Halibut season opens; SE fleet already lands 260,000 lbs.

A little more than three days into the 2016 halibut season, Area 2C, Southeast Alaska, has had the fleet hitting it the hardest.

Nearly 260,000 pounds had been landed in Southeast, compared to less than 50,000 in Area 3A, Central Gulf of Alaska, and no activity in other areas of the state.

The state-wide directed commercial halibut quota is just over 17 million pounds.

Prices have started about where they left off last year, with Kodiak reportedly at $6.25 for fish under 20 pounds, $6.50 for fish 20 to 40 pounds, and $6.85 for fish 40 pounds and up.

Dock prices in Homer were around $6.25/$6.50/$6.75 on the same split.  Prices in Southeast were not available.

Those fish are retailing at outlets like 10th and M Seafoods in Anchorage for $22.95 per pound for fillets and $11.95 for headed/gutted fish, which they will fillet for you at the store. 

At the end of the 2015 season, boats and buyers were few, but boats still fishing were reporting prices of around $6.50 per pound.

Once again this season, the International Pacific Halibut Commission will be collecting pages from halibut logbooks, which they have been doing since the 1930s. These pages help determine the weight-per-unit of effort, and gear and location information which is essential for the annual stock assessment and aids in determining the condition of the halibut resource. 

Harvesters are on the front lines of providing this information, and IPHC requests the most accurate information available.

Sample pages are found inside the logbooks, which are available from any port sampler or NMFS office.

Port samplers will be deployed at Dutch Harbor, Homer, Juneau, Kodiak, Petersburg, Seward, Sitka and St. Paul.

If a fisherman has not been contacted by an IPHC port sampler by the end of the season, IPHC requests that the white copies be sent to them. Mailing information can be found at iphc.int.

In other IPHC news, long-time executive director Bruce Leaman is retiring after serving since 1997, one year into the current IFQ system.

Leaman had hoped to have his replacement by the January 2016 meeting, but the hiring process, conducted by the six commissioners that serve on the board, took longer than expected.

He will be replaced by Dr. David Wilson, who has a wide range of international and domestic fisheries management and administration.

Leaman will step down in August.

Cristy Fry can be reached at realist468@gmail.com.