170 Degrees West
CBSFA Halibut Cooperative
170 Degrees West, LLC (170DW) was formed in 2011 with the expressed goal of maximizing the ex-vessel price to the local St. Paul Island halibut fleet. To accomplish this goal, 170DW started marketing halibut directly to major end users and wholesale concerns . For the four-year period ending December 31, 2015, 170 DW paid the local fleet a total of $8,968,973 for 1,686,830 pounds of halibut. This represents an average price per pound of $5.32.
In 2015 alone, 170DW purchased 252,636 pounds of CDQ halibut from the local fleet and 81,817 pounds of IFQ halibut from the local fleet. The total amount paid for the year was $2,006,718, with $1,515,816 paid for CDQ halibut and $490,902 paid for IFQ halibut. The average price paid to the fishermen in 2016 was $6.00 per pound, up from $5.87 in 2014 and $4.48 in 2013.
In 2015, 170DW produced a total of 396,192 pounds of product in Trident Seafoods’ St. Paul Island facility. The product break down was:
- Fletches – 115,3945 pounds
- H & G – 40,985 pounds
- Vacuum Packed Portions – 32,450 pounds
- Miscellaneous By products – 30,360 pounds
- Bait Blocks – 179,003 pounds
The market conditions in 2015 continued to be challenging as the higher prices for halibut was met with considerable market resistance. Total sales of target products for the year were $1,375,515 for 107,078 pounds. In addition, 177,365 pounds of bait blocks were sold which had a total value of $85,620. 170DW had 114,308 pounds of inventory remaining at year-end. In the first half of 2016, the bulk of this inventory was sold.
In 2015, 170DW continued its push to market value- added vacuum- packed products. For the year, 50,935 pounds of vacuum- packed fillets were sold to a leading wholesale membership club. This move to promote vacuum- packaged products is continuing in 2016. In addition to the vacuum- packed portions sales, 170 DW continued to partner with several leading wholesale distributors to move its fletch and H & G inventory.
The CBSFA Halibut Cooperative was created in 2003 with the goal of increasing ex-vessel prices paid to the local fleet. Since inception, the Co-op has paid out $33.6 million to the local fishermen in the form of ex-vessel prices.
CBSFA operates the Co-op in conjunction with the local fishermen, Saint Boats LLC (Saint Paul and Saint Peter), and Trident Seafoods. CBSFA purchases the halibut from the local fleet and partners with Trident Seafoods to process and market the fish. Any CDQ not able to be caught by the local fleet is leased to our own boats, the Saint Paul and Saint Peter, when possible. It is CBSFA’s goal that the local fleet has as much CDQ halibut available to them as they are able to catch. With the recent cuts in quota, the Saint Boats were not needed to harvest CDQ halibut in 2015 and were not leased any.
The original Co-op model based the ex-vessel price paid to the fishermen on profitability; any profits made from halibut sales were distributed back to fishermen in the form of a retroactive ex-vessel price adjustment. In recent years, the lower halibut quotas have negatively impacted profitability and CBSFA has been subsidizing its halibut buying operations. To remain a competitive halibut buyer, CBSFA has been matching the NMFS Standard Bering Sea IFQ ex-vessel average price, published each winter in the Federal Register. Until the Co-op is profitable, again, CBSFA will pay the fishermen using this method to ensure they receive the best price possible.
For 2015, local landings totaled 334,453 pounds, including 81,914 pounds of locally held IFQ (1). The base price was set at $5.75 and a retroactive price adjustment was paid out following the close of the season and the final 2015 ex-vessel price was $6.00. In total, $2 million was paid to the local fishermen. This amount is lower than some previous years, due to recent cuts in catch limits, but is very close to both the 2013 and 2014 seasons due to a higher ex-vessel price.
The Area 4C catch limit for 2015 remained the same as it was in 2014, at 595,626 pounds. CBSFA’s CDQ halibut allocation was 253,555 pounds and locally held IFQ’s were around 93,000 pounds. Total landings for 2015 were 334,709 pounds, approximately the same amount landed as in 2014.
The 2016 fishing season began on June 20th with a posted ex-vessel price of $6.00 / lb. CBSFA’s CDQ allocation is 311,780 pounds, 23% higher than the 2015 allocation. The 2016 base price is the same as the final price paid out in 2015; so total income for the local fleet should be higher than last year.
Since 2011, Area 4C catch limits have been reduced by 65% and have been significant for the local fleet. The cuts are largely attributed to the results of the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) stock assessment and the impact of halibut bycatch mortality on both the stock and IPHC catch limit accounting. Past IPHC stock assessments have shown a continued decline in the available exploitable biomass of halibut in the BSAI and projections of incoming recruits have shown some uncertainty.
On a positive note, things may be turning around. The 2015 stock assessment did show improvement in the exploitable biomass both coastwide and in Area 4CDE and reductions in halibut bycatch mortality in Area 4CDE have resulted in a higher catch limit for 2016 – there hasn’t been a positive increase in the Area 4CDE catch limit since 2011.
The local halibut fishery is a significant part of our community’s economy. CBSFA and other Saint Paul entities have been continuously addressing the halibut concerns and are heavily involved in the IPHC and North Pacific Fishery Management (NPFMC) processes. We plan on maintaining our efforts on further reductions in halibut bycatch and will be actively involved in developments to equitably allocate the halibut resource.
While there is still uncertainty and a lot of work to be done, we hope that these developments help halibut stocks remain healthy and viable for the future.
1. Note that CBSFA tracks only those IFQ deliveries purchased by 170 Degrees West – some locally held IFQ may be purchased by Trident or delivered to other ports.