Alaska fishermen who hold catch shares of halibut, sablefish and Bering Sea crab pay an annual fee to the federal government to cover management and enforcement costs for those fisheries. The fee, which is capped at 3 percent, is based on dock prices through September and averaged across the state.
This month bills went out to 1,968 holders of halibut and sablefish shares, 15 fewer than last year. At a three percent fee, those fisheries yielded slightly more for coverage costs at $5.9 million due to an increase in overall fish values at the docks.
“The 2016 halibut landings had an increase in value from 2015 – it went up from $107 million to $112 million. Sablefish also had an increase going from $76.6 million to $77.7 million” said Carl Greene, Cost Recovery Coordinator for NOAA Fisheries in Juneau.
Halibut prices to fishermen increased to $6.67 per pound during the eight-month fishery, a boost of 25 cents a pound from last year. Sablefish dock prices increased to $4.34 a pound, up 56 cents.
The fees are due to NOAA at the end of January and Greene said nearly 100 percent of the share holders pay their bills on time. He added that improvements have been made to the eFish payment site to make it more user friendly.
Fishery overseers don’t track the dock prices for Bering Sea king, snow or Tanner crab, only the value of the combined catches. The fee for management and enforcement increased slightly from 1.48 percent to 1.6 percent and yielded $3.7 million in coverage costs. The total value of the crab fisheries, however, decreased slightly.
“The total value was $228 million for the 2015/2016 season, which was a decrease of about one million dollars,” Greene said.
For Bering Sea crab, the processors are responsible for paying the fishery coverage costs in July.