Report says fish still big industry in Alaska

Jan 26, 2016

A new report is a reminder of what many Alaskans already know: seafood is a big industry in the state.

A seiner is shown in Pavlof Bay in this photo, which won an ASMI photo competition in 2015. Pavlof Bay is on the Alaska Peninsula, part of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands area, where about $438 million is generated in annual income for fishermen.
Credit Miles Wiebe Courtesy of ASMI

    

A report recently released by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute runs through the numbers for the seafood industry.

ASMI Communications Director Tyson Fick said his organization commissioned the McDowell group to update a study on the role seafood plays in Alaska, and America’s, economy.

“There’s more labor income from seafood than from tourism and mining combined, which is pretty substantial, and certainly very, very important in places where seafood is primary, like Bristol Bay,” Fick said.

The report says the 60,000 workers in Alaska’s seafood industry earn $1.6 billion per year. That includes the equivalent of about 4,650 full time jobs in Bristol Bay.

“Bristol Bay region commercial fisheries generate an average of 95 million, 52 million processing. There’s not a whole lot of other primary economy generators in the whole region, other than seafood, that I can think of, so certainly that’s important to everybody who lives there and everybody who shows up there to participate in the fishery in the summer.”

Despite the short season in the bay, the report says that the majority of the people working in processing facilities made most of their annual income off the fishery.

On the harvesting side, the report says Bristol Bay accounted for 11 percent of the value of Alaska’s fisheries in 2014, with a value of $221 million dollars for about 222 million pounds of seafood. The drift harvest was valued at $182 million; the setnet harvest was worth $39 million.

The fishery includes 502 resident-owned fishing vessels and 1,619 resident fishermen.

And while pollock might be the largest fishery by volume, and halibut, crab and sablefish take the lead for fish value per pound– the report calls salmon king, creating the most jobs, the most labor income and most total value.

Fick said the one thing missing from the report is 2015 data. That could be added in a future update.