SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Fish Factor

Seafood Industry Pumps Millions into Alaska's Communities


September 12, 2011

Millions more dollars are being pumped into Alaska communities and state coffers by the seafood industry.  All fish/ shellfish catches are assessed a 3% raw fish tax - half remains in the local community, half goes to the State general fund and is disbursed at the whim of the Legislature. Based on big boosts in landings and values for many major fisheries last year and this year, there will be lots more Alaska fish bucks to go around.

The just released Fisheries of the U.S. Report by NOAA Fisheries shows that 11 Alaska ports made the top 50 list for seafood landings and poundage in 2010.  For the 22nd year in a row, Dutch Harbor/Unalaska ranked #1 with more than a half billion pounds of seafood crossing its docks, an increase of nine million pounds from 2009. Kodiak dropped from 4th to 5th place with deliveries of 325.3 million pounds, up from 283 million pounds.

Cordova ranked #8 with landings soaring to nearly 148 million pounds compared to 45.5 million in 2009! Similarly, Seward (#18) deliveries jumped from 29.3 million pounds to 75.4 million. Ketchikan ranked # 17 with 75.7 million pounds compared to #15 in 2009 with 75.9 million pounds.

Six Alaska ports were in the top 10 in terms of seafood value.  New Bedford, MA held on to the lead for 11 consecutive years at $306 million, thanks to pricey scallops. Dutch Harbor ranked #2 for value at $163 million (an increase of $3.4 million), and Kodiak bumped up a notch to third place with seafood values topping $128 million, a $24.3 million increase from 2009.

Naknek-King Salmon ranked #4 for value at $101 million, up from $76 million. Cordova was number five with seafood values of $84.3 million – a $51.5 million increase. Seward ranked #10 with landings valued at $69.2 million, compared to $33.1 million the previous year. Sitka came in at #11 with seafood values totaling $62.2 million, a $10 million increase over 2009.  

Other Alaska ports making the top 50 list for landings and values include Homer (#13, $56.1 million), Ketchikan (#20, $41.3 million, compared to $32.9 in 2009), Petersburg (#24, $36.3 million), Kenai (#34, $25.1 million), and Juneau (#36, $23.8 million).

Other highlights:

    • The dockside (exvessel) price for  fish increased 16% and 18% for shellfish.  
    • US seafood landings of 8.2 billion pounds were up 2.4%; the dock value of $4.5 billion  was a 13.3% increase ($600 million) from 2009.
    • U.S. consumers spent $80.2 billion for seafood products last year, a $5 billion increase.
    • Salmon rose from 3rd to 2nd place as the most valuable US fishery at nearly $555 million, second to “crabs” at $573 million. Rounding out the top 10 for value: scallops, lobster, shrimp, pollock, halibut, clams, cod and flatfish.
    • The value of processed seafood products was $8.5 billion, an increase of $774 million over 2009.
    • The overall value added to the economy by the US seafood industry in 2010 was $41.4 billion.
    • The majority of the U.S. seafood supply - 86% - was  imported from other countries. 

Americans ate slightly less seafood last year – 15.8 pounds per person, down from 16 pounds in 2009, reflecting the lowest rate of seafood consumption since 2002.  Where in the world do they eat the most fish?    The Maldives Islands in the Indian Ocean at 314 pounds per capita!

The annual US fisheries report includes recreational fishing and much more.  It’s a great read. Find it at

On the Web:

2010 Landings by Port Ranked by Pounds (Chart)

2010 Commercial Fishery Landings by Port Ranked by Dollars (Chart)

Careers in the Last Frontier

More than 20% of the staff at the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game could retire in the next five years, and a special team is going all out to attract new workers.  

“It’s an alarming statistic and the Department has undertaken an ambitious recruitment program,” said   Candice Bressler, ADF&G Workforce Development Program Coordinator. “We are trying to get in the next generation of biologists, fisheries managers, wildlife professionals, accountants, across the board to come into the department.”

In the past year the workforce team really ramped up its recruitment with 40 career fairs at Alaska high schools and colleges this past year.  Several new internship programs give  hands on experience in numerous fields of interest.

 “It’s all about choosing your adventure,” Bressler said. “That’s what students like to hear.”

Students also like hearing they get paid well for their internships, plus college credits. (Paying student interns is almost unheard of, Bressler said.) ADF&G pays $13-$25 per hour based on high school and upper graduate levels.

Ultimately, the goal is to show there are good careers right here in Alaska, Bressler added, and hook a new generation into ADF&G. 

“We are really trying to tap into what is in our back yard,” she said.  “To maintain the great work that we do is to have Alaskans in those positions, folks who are truly committed to our mission in maintaining the resources.”      Find out more at

Fish Watch

As expected, catches of red king crab at Bristol Bay are likely to take a big drop, possibly down 35% from the 15 million pound quota in 2010.. That could mean a catch of less than 10 million pounds when the season opens next month.  Conversely, the Bering Sea snow crab harvest could increase by 20% to over 65 million pounds, 10 million pounds more than last season. Fish managers will announce the crab quotas in a few weeks. 

All gear types are back out on the water fishing for Pacific cod, also called true cod and gray cod.  This year Alaska fishermen have a total codfish harvest of nearly 8 hundred million pounds, up 30% from last year. At an average price of 40 cents a pound, the fishery will be worth more than $320 million at the docks.

The 23rd annual Fishermen’s Fall Festival takes place at Fishermen’s Terminal in Seattle on Sept. 11. All proceeds benefit the Seattle Fisherman’s Memorial.


Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews



This year marks the 21st year for this weekly column that focuses on Alaska’s seafood industry. It began in 1991 in the Anchorage Daily News, and now appears in over 20 newspapers and web sites. A daily spin off – Fish Radio – airs weekdays on 30 radio stations in Alaska. My goal is to make all people aware of the economic, social and cultural importance of Alaska’s fishing industry to our state, the nation and the world. 


Laine can be reached at msfish[AT]
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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska


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