3-Minute Market Insight
EP 376 | Aired 03/05/2018
Pacific Halibut Season is Set to Start, Will Buyers Switch Back from Atlantic Halibut?

March 5th, 2018 - In this week's episode we will talk about Pacific and Atlantic Halibut. Commercial Pacific Halibut fishing is set to begin March 24th, but after stale quota talks at the annual meeting in January, the 2017 quota limits will set the bar.

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2017 Halibut assessments showed the stock is not considered "overfished" and stock distribution amongst all IPHC regulatory areas are stable. We spoke to Assistant Director Steve Keith at the Halibut Commission last month, who advised us that "both sides recognized that lower limits than last year were necessary in response to the stock assessment and harvest advice." There is no indication yet on when the new catch limits for 2018 will be announced.

--- On the other side of the country, Atlantic Halibut from the Gulf of St Lawrence is managed by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in Canada. The fishery runs from May to May annually and saw a 25 percent quota increase from 1036 metric tonnes in 2016/2017 to 1297 metric tonnes for the 2017/2018 season. Many fresh Pacific Halibut buyers have switched to Atlantic Halibut and it is unknown if they will switch back to Pacific when the season begins. 10/20 headed and gutted Atlantic Halibut pricing is all over the map, ranging anywhere from $5.80 to $6.10 per pound in the Boston market.

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Compare this price point to 10/20 Pacific Halibut pricing on the West Coast at $6.50/lb just last month. If Pacific Halibut pricing starts out strong this season, we predict less demand as buyers stick with Atlantic products. With the Pacific Halibut quota still pending for 2018 but a quota reduction expected, it's likely that fishermen anticipate the market to rise. However, with strong inventories and abundant Atlantic product, Pacific Halibut pricing will have to drop to be accepted, which will likely push down grounds pricing as a result.

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