Monday, November 1, 2010

Hot year for halibut

Alaska's halibut fishery closes at noon Nov. 15, and longliners already have caught 97 percent of the 40.3 million pounds of individual fishing quotas issued when the season opened back on March 6.

So how's it gone this year in terms of prices?

In a word, hot.

The Seattle-based Fishing Vessel Owners' Association, in the November issue of its newsletter "The Wheel Watch," reports that prices "have reached record highs even with the North American recession."

Association boats landing halibut recently in Seward received $6.40 per pound for the biggest and most valuable fish — those weighing 40 pounds or more. Smaller fish brought between $5.90 and $6.15.

Relatively low inventories plus the prospect of further quota cuts in 2011 likely will buoy the value of fish in cold storage, the newsletter says.

The good news, however, comes with the worry that halibut is pricing itself out of the market.

"There have been several major grocery stores that have taken halibut out of their stores this fall due to the high prices," the newsletter says. Retail prices in Seattle are reported at $18 a pound and up.

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