KODIAK (AP) Halibut prices have been unusually high this year, but some in the industry worry the bottom could suddenly fall out of the market.
Halibut fishermen landed 630,170 pounds on Monday, the largest deliveries since late May and landed more than 1.5 million pounds this week statewide. Seventy-six percent of the 59 million pound quota has been taken to date.
Despite the influx of fish, prices in Kodiak continued to hover between $2.90 and $3.30 per pound, while Homer prices were slightly higher at $3.15 to $3.40 per pound.
''These are some of the highest prices we've ever seen,'' said Jessica Stack of the Auction Block in Homer.
Kodiak and Homer processors attribute this year's elevated prices to higher demand for the flaky white fish in the Lower 48 and more competition from Dutch Harbor and Sand Point processors.
''There are absolutely more deliveries out West this year,'' said Dave Woodruff of Alaska Fresh Seafoods. ''Trident has been buying with a vengeance out in Sand Point, doing everything they can to keep halibut from coming to Kodiak.''
Alaska Custom Seafoods owner Brad Faulkner said he has also felt the pressure to compete with Trident Seafoods in Sand Point.
''They've had good prices all year,'' Faulkner said. ''You have to compete with them to get boats to travel to the road system.''
The high prices are an unexpected bonus for boat owners and crews this year, but industry insiders remain apprehensive that prices could plummet.
''It's high enough to be worrisome,'' Faulkner said. ''We still have to compete with chicken and compete with pork.''
Woodruff said he has talked to several brokers in the Lower 48 who have told him they can no longer afford to buy halibut.
''Eventually the consumer will rebel then the whole house of cards will come tumbling down,'' Woodruff said.
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