Processor shares end, rockfish prices soar

Fishermen are getting dramatically higher prices for Gulf of Alaska rockfish.

In 2011, one major processor, Trident, paid 12 cents per pound for northern rockfish delivered to its Kodiak plant, and 10 cents per pound for pelagic shelf rockfish and Pacific Ocean perch.

This year, Trident is paying 27 cents for all three species of rockfish.

And what accounts for this huge rise in prices?

It isn't higher demand for rockfish. The reason is that the forced linkage between vessels and specific processors went away this year.

Now vessels are free to deliver their catches to any processor in Kodiak. As a result, processors this year are bidding up the price.

Deckboss takes his information from this declaration by Trident's chief legal officer, Joe Plesha.

The declaration was filed in the federal lawsuit Trident and three other processors — North Pacific, Ocean Beauty and Westward — are pressing against federal fishery regulators to try to reinstate the old system of tying boats to particular plants.

The processors say that without these linkages, ensuring a steady share of rockfish to each plant, the companies inevitably will bid against each other to such a degree that all of the value of the fish will go to the fishermen.