Why Your Halibut Dinner Costs So Much
By Larry Pynn/Hakai
Photo by Jeremy Austin/flickr
There was a time not long ago when the commercial halibut fishery proved deadly for man and fish—a free-for-all in which licensed fishers competed to maximize their catches as fast as they could, often in bad weather and with disastrous results.
The Canadian government took action to calm the frenzy and protect the halibut by introducing a quota system in 1991 that allocated fishing opportunities to licensed halibut fishers based on catch history and vessel size.
It amounts to a very private club fishing a public resource.
The old management system set up a feast-or-famine situation for halibut availability. Openings as short as a few days resulted in the fleet’s halibut catch being unloaded all at once. Processors scrambled to find freezer space, while quality suffered and prices dropped. Under the new quota system, fishers secure higher prices for their catch by serving the fresh fish market over a longer fishing season, from March to November. And this affects the price paid by consumers.