SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Fish Factor

For 19 Years, Dutch Harbor Nation's Top Fishing Port
By Laine Welch


July 20, 2008

Dutch Harbor/Unalaska easily remained the nation's top fishing port, for the 19th year in a row. Nearly 780 million pounds of seafood, powered by Alaska pollock, were offloaded at the Dutch Harbor docks in 2007.

The rankings were revealed last week by NOAA Fisheries as part of its popular annual report on U.S. Fisheries. Reedville, Virginia followed Dutch Harbor as the #2 port for seafood landings; Empire-Venice, Louisiana ranked third. The major product landed in both of those ports is menhaden, used for fish oils and feeds. Kodiak held on to the #4 spot for landings at 320 million pounds.

For the 8th consecutive year, pricey scallops pushed New Bedford, Mass. to the top spot for catch value at $268 million. Dutch Harbor ranked second for seafood values at $174.1 million, up $8.9 million. Kodiak held on to #3 with landings valued at $126 million, an increase of $25 million from 2006.

Other Alaska fishing ports making the nation's 2007 top ten list for seafood values: #7 Naknek-King Salmon at $61.8 million, an increase of $10.5 million; #8 Seward at $57 million, up $6 million; #10 Sitka at $50.8 million.

Alaska leads the nation in seafood landings at 5.3 billion pounds, more than double the catches of all the other states combined. Alaska also leads for seafood values at $1.5 billion annually.

Seafood dip

Americans ate slightly less seafood last year, reversing a three year trend. According to NOAA Fisheries, which has been tracking per capita consumption since 1910, each American ate 16.3 pounds of seafood, down from 16.5 pounds in 2006. (The highest level was 16.6 pounds per capita in 2004.)

But the decrease might not be due to waning interest in or recession-related belt tightening. Market expert John Sackton of points to a downward supply of America 's favorite seafood: shrimp.

"The drop in shrimp consumption mirrors the decline in shrimp imports, which provide 90% of the U.S. supply," Sackton said. "Import restrictions on shrimp from China reduced shipments to the U.S. by nearly 30 percent."

Shrimp imports to the U.S. were down overall by nearly 6% last year, to 1.2 billion pounds. It was the first time shrimp imports have fallen on a year to year basis since 1996, Sackton said.

More fish facts

Also from the 2007 report on U.S. fisheries:

  • U.S. seafood landings totaled 9.2 billion pounds, down 3%, valued at $4.1 billion at the docks.
  • Alaska pollock was the nation's #1 catch.
  • Americans spent $65 billion for seafood products last year.
  • Fish accounted for 89% of total. U.S. wild capture landings, but only 51% of the value.
  • The U.S. imports nearly 84% of its seafood, up from 63% a decade ago.
    U.S. aquaculture, mostly catfish, meets 5% to 7% of the nation's seafood demand.
  • U.S. farmed oysters, clams, mussels and salmon supply 1.5% of American seafood demand.
  • The average price paid to U.S. fishermen in 2007 was 44 cents, compared to 42 cents in 2006.

The 2007 US Fisheries Report includes recreational fisheries. Find it at .

Ag Bill includes fishermen

Low cost operating loans for fishermen got new life last week when the measure was included in the 2009 Agriculture Appropriations Bill. The measure aims to give fishermen access to USDA loans, similar to other food producers, including US fish farmers. It was pulled from the US Farm Bill earlier this year.

"When it comes to qualifying for these loan programs, there should be no difference between the corn farmer in Iowa and the fisherman in Kodiak," said Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK), sponsor of the provision.

The provision would extend the Farm Service Agency's Operating Loan program to commercial fishermen in Alaska. Fishermen will be able to access loans for basic operating costs, including boats, nets, and fuel.

The legislation now heads to the full Senate for passage.

Survey says!

Alaska Sea Grant wants input on how to focus its marine research, education and community extension efforts for the next five years. Fill out a short survey and you'll qualify to win a $100 shopping spree at the book store. Alaska Sea Grant is headquartered at the University of Alaska/ School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences at Fairbanks. Find the survey at .


Kodiak-based Laine Welch has been reporting news of Alaska's seafood industry for print and radio for 20 years. Fish Factor appears in 15 newspapers and websites. Laine's Fish Radio programs air daily on more than 25 stations across Alaska.
Contact Laine at msfish[AT]


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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska

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