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Fish Factor

Alaska's Wild Seafood Star Attraction of NY Media Road Show
By Laine Welch


July 10, 2006

Alaska's wild seafood will be a star attraction when more than 50 travel/tourism businesses make local pitches at the fast paced Media Road Show in New York City.

The novel event, hosted by the Alaska Travel Industry Association (AlaskaTIA), matches Alaska businesses with big name media in a musical chairs-like format. The Anchorage-based group is the marketing arm of the state tourism department, and represents nearly 1000 travel-related businesses and organizations.
jpg Laine Welch

The Media Road Show, now in its fifth year, "is like one on one speed dating," said AlaskaTIA spokesperson Jennifer Thompson. "There is a day of appointments wherein the media reps travel from table to table in 20 minute increments to meet with about 50 Alaska tourism partners. One of our staff actually rings a bell and we move them along. Whether they're talking about a zip line in Ketchikan or seafood from Kodiak, they're getting their story out there to the media. It's a great opportunity," Thompson said.

"It's an amazing process," agreed event regular Pam Foreman, director of the Kodiak Island Convention and Visitors Bureau. "Everyone has a different story angle, from fishing and kayaking to golf opportunities. We all get matched up and we have very productive meetings," she added. Foreman said the KICVB pays about $2,800 to participate in the Road Show event.

AlaskaTIA estimates a $9 million return on investment in terms of editorial coverage has resulted from the Media Road Show, according to Thompson.

The two day Road Show will be topped with a Taste of Alaska reception where four chefs will showcase cuisine from around the state. "One of the biggest angles in travel journalism is the whole food element, and Alaska seafood is a big part of that experience," Thompson said. The Media Road Show is set for October 22-24 in NYC. Get more info at .

COUNTY SEATS CALL FOR FISHERMEN - Alaska salmon fishermen are now classified as agricultural producers, meaning they can have input on how U.S. Dept. of Agriculture dollars and programs operate in Alaska. It's done through participation in local county committees and the call is out for fishermen to fill some of those seats.

"County committees are designed from a grass roots level to hear how our programs are working and to get ideas on how we can better fit communities and areas around the country. They also provide information about USDA programs," said Chad Padgett, director of the USDA Farm Service Agency in Alaska.

USDA programs, such as Farm Service Loans at 3.5 percent, are implemented with input from the local FSA County Committees. Various marketing programs are also included. The FSA County Committee program was restructured last year, dividing Alaska into northern and southern regions, each with five local administrative areas.

With a budget of nearly $95 billion dollars, the USDA is the nations' premier food agency. Padgett said the 2007 Farm Bill is now being considered and it is important for all agriculture producers - including salmon fishermen - to be at the table. "It's a very good opportunity to have a voice and help administer a federal program on the grounds - now or in the future," he said.

Ten county committee seats are up for grabs. Members are paid for their time at meetings and reimbursed for travel. Meetings are held monthly or as needed. Salmon fishermen who applied for USDA TAA are eligible to serve on the committees, and can nominate themselves or others. Deadline is August 1, 2006. Questions? Contact FSA's Lloyd Wilhelm toll free at 866-872-3320 or visit .

DREDGES DROP - A handful of fishing boats dropped dredges on the grounds starting July 1 as Alaska's scallop fishery got underway. Weathervane scallops are the largest scallops in the world and are the only species caught commercially in Alaska at this time. Scallop fishing began in Alaska in the late 1960's around Kodiak and Yakutat, and now also occurs at Prince William Sound, Kamishak Bay near Homer, the south side of the Alaska Peninsula and in the Bering Sea.

Alaska scallop harvests average roughly 700,000 pounds of shucked meats. That's the tasty, large muscle the pulls the two shell halves together.

Just ten boats have permits to fish for scallops in Alaska, although only eight are active. The boats drop big dredges that make repeated tows along mostly sandy bottoms of strictly defined fishing regions. The fishery has 100 percent observer coverage and strict crab bycatch caps. The fleet fishes in a self regulating, cooperative style that allocates harvest shares based on fishing history. All boats catch, process and freeze the catch onboard.

Alaska scallops have an average value of between $5.50 and $5.90 per pound, making the fishery worth up to $4million at the docks.

It's scallops that nudge Dutch Harbor out of the nation's top spot in terms of the value of landings. Dutch delivers the most seafood of any port in the nation, but the value of the catch goes to New Bedford, Massachusetts. Overall landings there in 2004 were worth $206 million, due mostly to scallop catches, compared to a value of $155 million at Dutch Harbor.


Laine Welch has been covering news of Alaska's seafood industry since 1988. Her Fish Factor column appears weekly in over a dozen papers and websites. Her Fish Radio programs air on 27 stations across Alaska.

Contact Laine at msfish[AT]

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Ketchikan, Alaska