Halibut Season Opens March 11th
We usually try to stay out of politics and concentrate on selling the finest seafood in Alaska. This year has been different, which is probably an understatement; however, the recent election had a direct impact on our halibut fishery. When a freeze was placed on new federal regulations, the opening day of halibut season which is set by federal regulation was suddenly in question. Fortunately, this matter has been resolved and now halibut season will open on March 11th and close in the middle of November. Halibut is a federally managed fishery. Quota is assigned each year and allocated to quota holders based on scientific projections of the strength of the halibut stock. The International Pacific Halibut Commission charters boats to conduct halibut survey’s each year to get a real look at the makeup of the quota in the various assigned fishing areas.
Our Kodiak halibut fleet is gearing up, sharpening and baiting hooks and preparing to get underway in a few days. Most boats comprise a crew of four – the skipper, an engineer and two deck hands. Crews can vary based on the size and length of the boat. Fishing trips generally last five or six days, depending on which areas the boats target to fish. Weather often dictates where the boats will fish, but they can fish all around the Island as far south as Sand Point and the Shumagin Islands.
Processing plants usually place a three day trip limit from the time the first fish are landed. This is to help ensure that the fish is fresh and the quality is preserved for the fresh markets.
To offload the halibut, processing crews go down into the holds of the boats and put the big fish into cargo nets and then the load is lifted by crane and delivered by forklift into the plants for processing. The halibut are headed and then size graded because the fishermen are paid a premium for the bigger fish. If the halibut is sold as fresh, then the fish is packed into large airline boxes, palletized and trucked to Kodiak Airport. Alaska Airlines has special 737 jets that carry both passengers and 5 cargo igloos – these “combi’s” are loaded and the fish heads off to market.
We shared all this to let you know how much effort goes into delivering premium quality halibut to the market. It is not a simple process as you can see, but requires dedicated effort by our fishermen, regulators, processing crews and flight crews.
Watch for our “first halibut of the season specials” next week after the new halibut starts to hit the docks. We have some wonderful recipes for halibut on our recipe pages. https://www.kodiakfishmarket.com/halibut-linguine-on-fresh-asparagus/
If you are unfamiliar with how much halibut to buy or how to prepare it, feel free to call us at any time.
Kodiak Fish Market