Successful salmon season drives up license prices and boat sales

Optimism is the word that best sums up the attitude of most Alaskan salmon fishermen after a good season, according to people specializing in buying and selling licenses and boats.

Most fishermen in the main areas got good catches and wharf prices were up from previous years. This drove up license prices, notably at the Bellwether fishery in Bristol Bay, where driftnet licenses exceeded $ 200,000.

“The highest was $ 210,000. But it’s a pretty tight market, ”said Maddie Lightsey, broker at Alaska Boats and Permits in Homer, Alaska. “A lot of fishermen had a great year there and made a lot of money. But buyers are reluctant to pay these really high prices. Many are hoping this is a fairly short peak.

“Meanwhile, sellers are resisting the high prices, while expressing concerns about increased tax burdens if they sell this year after such a good season. Those two things combined really constrained the market and there weren’t that many sales, ”she added.

“There is a lot of interest in Bristol Bay licenses and boats, but the price of the license is really high, so right now there is a lot of talk,” echoed Lisa Gulliford of Permit Master in Tacoma. , Washington. The values ​​of the permits are published monthly by the State. Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission (TECC) and reflect the average selling prices over the past three months. They need at least four trades to calculate an average and some permits don’t sell often enough to do so, so they have to factor in sales from three months ago, Lightsey explained.

“But the market changes so quickly that TECC permit prices are generally low, whether high or low. The value of a salmon license is literally what a buyer is willing to pay for it! She added.

There is also interest in other salmon fisheries, “which is good news and means optimism is spreading across all fisheries. Licenses that have been relatively quiet for a few years are now the subject of inquiries, ”said Gulliford, adding that“ the licenses for trolling in the southeast are back ”.

Before the summer season, motor trolling licenses sold for as little as $ 20,000 and now range between $ 28,000 and $ 30,000. However, movement in other Southeastern salmon licenses is lackluster, Lightsey added.

“Before the season, drift licenses were selling for around $ 55,000 and our lowest asking price is now $ 65,000, but we had no offers,” she said. “On the Seine side, we sold a license for $ 140,000 after the end of the season, which was the first I believe since 2019. It’s a really slow market there.

Likewise, licenses in Prince William Sound have yet to gain popularity despite a strong year for pink salmon.

“A few drift licenses sold in the $ 110,000 range. To my knowledge, no seine license has yet been sold. And quite a few people are moving from Prince William Sound to Bristol Bay, ”added Lightsey.

Conversely, drift permits at Cook Inlet have increased from $ 16,000 to $ 17,000 to $ 30,000.

“A lot of people have had the best season in years. Not everyone, of course, but many have broken six figures, ”she said.

Likewise, seine permits at Kodiak have steadily increased from $ 30,000 to $ 40,000 since the end of the season.

In the M area of ​​the Alaska Peninsula, drift permits rebound in the high range of $ 150,000 to $ 160,000 after surpassing $ 200,000 in 2019, then fell to no sales in 2020.

Lightsey said she hears a lot of concerns from fishermen about climate change and salmon bycatch in the trawl fishery, but that’s not enough to deter them from buying licenses.

“It pushes them to take action, which I find great,” she said. “I think a lot of this new guard of fishermen are young and energetic and incredibly motivated and dedicated to sustainability and preserving the future of their industry. With the old guard, they are really making a difference. They write letters and network and form advocacy groups and all of these things come together and instill a sense of pride and ownership in their fishery and make them more inclined to invest in it.

Another indicator of confidence, both brokers said boat sales were buoyant.

“I think good things are happening! Said Gulliford.

Alaska’s statewide catch of salmon this year has surpassed 222 million, 32 million more than expected.

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