National Fisherman

Absent from supermarket flyers this spring have been ads featuring the year's first fresh halibut, reflecting the anticipated pushback by buyers to the high-priced fish. "No excitement this year," said more than one major buyer.

In recent years, dwindling supplies of halibut helped push up dock prices to more than $7 a pound at major ports, and halibut fillets topped $20 a pound at retail. That's not the case this year.

The fishery opened March 23. The prices for first deliveries at Kodiak were reported at $5.25 to $5.75 a pound, with a 20-pound split, then after the first week, prices dropped to $4.50 to $4.75 a pound. Southeast's first halibut prices were reported at $5.25 to $5.50, also well below last year.

Lots of halibut is in the freezers and "everyone is holding fish," said a Southeast processor. "We're still not moving a lot of fish even at the lower prices, so it's a wait-and-see situation."

At 10th & M Seafoods in Anchorage, there was "not a lot of enthusiasm" for the season's first halibut, which was fetching $10.95 a pound for H&G (headed and gutted) and $17.95 for fillets. "We're selling lots more cod fish," said owner Rob Winfrey.

Lots of buyers are also holding onto pricey sablefish (black cod), and those prices also took a 40 percent dive at the start of the season. Starting prices in Southeast ranged from about $5 to $3 a pound the first week, compared to $8 to $4 a pound last year. Most of Alaska's sablefish goes to Japan, where the value of the yen is down 20 percent.

Read the full story at the Anchorage Daily News>>

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