Many of our members are asking when they can expect to see halibut in the store. Unfortunately, halibut has been extremely challenging this year and, at this point, it looks like we won’t be able to secure any for our members. We think it’s important that our members understand why this is necessary for our Community Supported Fishery this year and what we’re doing to try to secure halibut for our members for next year!
The reason there is no small-scale independent halibut this year has to do with large corporate ownership of halibut quotas. In BC companies are allowed to own halibut quota as a commodity and lease it out. Our small scale fishermen can’t afford to own halibut quota and are forced to lease quota from the big companies. This quota ownership structure causes massive speculation just like in the stock market causing the price of leasing quota to fluctuate wildly. This year, the price to lease quota for halibut skyrocketed, making it effectively impossible for independent local fishermen to lease halibut quotas and make a living. With the high increase, our fishermen would be making around $1/lb, not even enough to cover their costs, let alone to pay themselves a living wage. Either they would lose money, or we would have to charge astronomical prices to our members to be able to pay the fisherman a living wage. Other fishermen are fishing halibut for a company — the company owns the quota and the fisherman fishes it for the company, but they are not allowed to sell any of their halibut outside the company that owns the lease. So, unfortunately, this leaves us unable to provide halibut to our members this year.
We’ve spent the last couple of moths negotiating to buy directly from independent first nations in future as many bands still own their own quota making it possible for their fishermen to make a living wage. These bands love the idea of selling to our members where their personal stories and traditional values around sustainable fishing are appreciated. So it sounds like there will be a good fit there if we can continue to build relationships with some of these first nations for the future!
Finding ways to help fishermen remain independent of large corporate control in fishing is one of the reasons we started the CSF and, unfortunately, halibut is one of the toughest fisheries to crack. Rest assured, we’ll continue to work on it and we hope to have halibut available again next year.
Meanwhile, our lingcod really is a delicious alternative to halibut. Interestingly, lingcod is actually neither a ling nor a cod! It’s latin name is Ophiodon elongatus and it is part of the “greenling” or Hexagrammidae family. It’s believed the common name lingcod was originally given to it because it looks a bit like a ling and a bit like a cod, though it isn’t related to either.
The flavour of lingcod is sweet and very tasty — much more like halibut than cod. Personally, we prefer it to halibut as it is more reliable, easier to cook, and very flavourful. The quotas are also more independently owned still and so the price of lingcod is much more affordable than halibut. It is delicious prepared any way you would normally prepare halibut. If you haven’t tried it, I strongly encourage you to give it a try!
Thanks for your understanding! The flexibility of our CSF members to purchase whatever is sustainable, bountiful, and socially just is what keeps our community alive!