The halibut market has witnessed various stages with its demand and relative supply regarding the changing regulations and allowances defined by the regulatory bodies in respective regions. The halibut market is projecting fluctuations in price and regulations, which are expected to impact the demand for halibut fish on a global level. The halibut catch and allowance regulations related to them are major factors influencing this scenario.

Halibut Market Scenario in the region of Alaska

The increasing prices and declining total allowable catch (TAC) for halibut in the previous decade were hampering the growth of the market, which is now becoming stable compared to the earlier scenario. The halibut market is gaining greater stability owing to the increasing TAC since the year 2017 in the Alaskan region and the increasing demand is resulting in soaring prices with the growing volume of harvest. The halibut market is therefore witnessing changing scenarios with effect to changing regulations and allowances for catching fish.

Despite the fluctuating TAC and surging prices, the Alaskan halibuts find their place in the menu of prominent restaurants, whereas the demand for Pacific halibut is soaring in the sea food menu of the fine-dine restaurants.

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Massive Drop in ‘Pacific Halibut Catches’ Impeding Halibut Market Growth

The North Pacific commercial halibut fishery continues to remain lucrative, inducing a momentum in the halibut market around the globe. However, after the recent announcements of a major decline in cod stocks, the halibut market is likely to witness sluggish growth with a significant drop in Pacific halibut catches.

At a recent interim meeting for the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) in Seattle, scientists revealed that in 2017, the halibut numbers declined by over 23% as compared to the numbers recorded in 2016. The lack of younger halibut entering the Pacific halibut fishery remains the primary cause behind the sluggish growth of the halibut market. With the fluctuating prices of halibut and decreasing demand among consumers, the halibut market is grappling with some big challenges.

Apart from the dynamic prices and decreasing demand for halibut, the negative growth parameters of Alaska’s halibut market can be attributed to the increase in Canadian imports of fresh Atlantic halibut. As the halibut catch continues to increase in New England, the Atlantic halibut market may shape up in the upcoming years. However, declining demand for halibut in the seafood industry is still likely to impact the halibut market negatively in the foreseeable future. Also, changing habitat and environmental conditions are among the prominent causes of the significant decline in Pacific halibut catches, which may result in the below-average growth of the halibut market during the assessment period.

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Pacific Halibut vs. Atlantic Halibut – Fluctuating Supply and Price Fatigue Impact the Market Growth

While the total allowable catch (TAC) for Pacific halibut was high in 2016, the catch volumes were observed to be much lower in 2017. Also, following several years of high prices of Pacific halibuts, leading players in the halibut market observe low demand despite the chances of price softening in the upcoming years. Pricing for Pacific halibut is mainly influenced by the increasing availability and strengthening inventories of Atlantic halibut. Also, the International Pacific Halibut Commission could not come to a consensus to set catch limit for halibut, which results in individual countries promulgating catch levels for halibuts themselves. As a result, the halibut market is likely to witness the emerging trend of a marginal drop in prices of Pacific halibut and a rising number of fresh halibut buyers switching their halibut fishery sources.

If the trend of fluctuating prices of Pacific halibut recurs, buyers in the halibut market may shift their demand to Atlantic halibut. Even though the prices of Pacific halibut are declining with the increasing availability of Atlantic halibut, it still is a more expensive fish than Atlantic halibut. Higher catches of Atlantic halibut and relatively higher prices of Pacific halibut is causing a fatigue in the halibut market. In addition, anticipating the reduction in spawning biomass stock, the International Pacific Halibut Commission may reduce the commercial Pacific halibut fishery in the upcoming years.

However, in mid-2017, Rubio’s Restaurants – an American brand known for unique coastal cuisines – announced the addition of wild Alaskan halibut to its menu. Owing to the sweet, delicate flavor and declining prices of Pacific halibut, it is likely to observe rising demand among fine-dine restaurants as an exotic addition to their seafood menu. Ultimately, leading players in the halibut market are putting efforts in creating a balance between selling Pacific halibut and maintaining value as well as profitability by targeting the seafood industry. Nevertheless, attributing to the tension between the price and demand for Pacific halibut and Atlantic halibut, the halibut market is likely to witness sluggish growth in the near future.

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