Like the halibut total allowable catch, the sablefish IFQ has been declining moderately but steadily since 2004.

According to the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, final 2008 Alaska black cod landings totaled 26.8 million pounds, falling short of the 30-million-pound quota. In 2007, landings reached just over 30 million pounds despite a 33-million-pound quota.

The 2004 sablefish IFQ of 38 million pounds represented a 12-year high, and the recent decline represents a return to typical TACs of the late 1990s and early part of this decade. From 1997 to 2002, the sablefish IFQ TAC averaged 29.3 million pounds and never exceeded 30 million.

“Basically the trend we’ve seen is more of it is staying in the U.S. market; it used to be all exported. From 2004 to 2007 the harvest decreased slightly — 10.7 percent — but the exports decreased 46.8 percent. So we can see a lot more of the product is staying in the country,” says an ASMI  spokesperson.

The sablefish market is sensitive to supply, and with a fairly steady harvest, which is expected to continue largely due to the fact the fishery is managed under sustainable principles, according to ASMI, price trends for sablefish have also been steady. Ex-vessel prices have seen modest growth over the past three years, reaching USD 3 per pound in some Gulf of Alaska ports.

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