The basic laws of supply and demand are resulting in a nice payday for Alaska halibut and sablefish harvesters. Prices for both fish are up by more than a dollar a pound compared with the same time last year.
Fresh halibut has been moving smoothly and demand has been steady since the fishery opened in early March. That's according to a major buyer in Kodiak, where dock prices were reported at $6 a pound for 10- to 20-pounders, $6.25 for halibut weighing 20 to 40 pounds and $6.50 for "40 ups."
At Homer and in Southeast Alaska, halibut prices have yet to drop below six bucks a pound, local processors said. Dock prices in Homer last week ranged from $6.50 to $7 per pound "for very small loads."
In Southeast, halibut prices were $6.60/$6.40 /$6.10 per pound after reaching a high of $6.75 at Easter. Processors report "strong halibut catches and lots of nice fish." The fresh fish is being flown out almost daily from Southeast and distributed in small lots to markets all over the U.S. Alaska's total halibut catch this year is close to 16 million pounds.
The higher halibut prices are likely due to the slower pace of the fishery and less fish crossing the docks. Just over 3.5 million pounds had been landed statewide by May 2 out of a nearly 19 million pound catch limit. Top ports for halibut landings were Seward, Homer, Petersburg and Kodiak.