Just a few months ago, a permit for driftnet salmon in Bristol Bay went for over $225,000. There were many in that general price range late last fall. This month, the prices at permit brokerages show that some are being offered for as little as $140,000, more than a one-third drop in value.
The price for commercial fishing permits goes up and down through time. In 2020, Bristol Bay drift permits could be found for between $170,000 and $180,000. Then they went up, and now they are down.
The Alaska Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission tracks the approximate value of permits across the various fisheries. For salmon in Bristol Bay, the price of a permits has been dropping for years, according to the Estimated Permit Value Report:
But according to permits listed at brokerages, the official value of the permits is far higher than what is being asked this season. The permits sold through brokers come with specific site leases or equipment, which makes it difficult to calculate just what is going on with permit values in real time.
With prices for Bristol Bay wild sockeye salmon at nearly record lows, however, some permit holders may be rethinking their future in Bristol Bay. It’s expensive to fuel a boat and feed a crew, when farmed and hatchery grown salmon has flooded the worldwide market, with no end in sight.
The market for commercially fished Bristol Bay salmon is also up against salmon product in the freezers of America that is left over from last year.
Peter Pan and Trident Seafoods are buying sockeye from Bristol Bay fishers for 80 cents a pound this year, half of what was being paid last year and some of the lowest prices since 2015.