The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute recently released its annual report on the economic impact of the seafood industry in Alaska.
Commissioned by the McDowell Group, the ASMI report details where and how 56,800 Alaskan fishermen and processors harvested 5.6 billion pounds of seafood, worth $4.2 billion wholesale. The nationwide economic impact is estimated at over $12 billion.
The Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands fisheries employed the most people, with over 10,000 full-time-equivalent jobs. Southeast had 8,200, Southcentral 6,700, Kodiak Island 5,900, Bristol Bay 4,400 and the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim about 900.
There are 169 shore-based processing plants — very few any more are actually "canneries." There are 73 catcher-processors and more than a dozen floating processors in the fleet.
The report calculates that if all 9,423 fishing vessels in Alaska were lined up end to end, they'd stretch over 70 miles.
Salmon is still king in Alaska, edging out pollock as the top fishery for employment. Crab and Pacific cod account for about a third, with halibut and black cod trailing, followed by other groundfish.
Southcentral Alaska, which, in addition to Kenai and Homer, includes Anchorage and Prince William Sound, employs about 11,000 in the seasonal fisheries, accounting for 6,700 full-time-equivalent jobs. It's just less than Southeast and Bristol Bay.
Cordova brings in by far the largest ex-vessel value, largely from the Copper River salmon fisheries, with $134 million in wholesale receipts. Fishermen delivering in the city of Kenai had $84 million in sales, followed closely by Seward with $83 million. Valdez and Anchorage tied with $50 million, with Homer at $15 million.
More than a third of Alaska's resident commercial fishermen live in Southcentral, more than any other region of the state. There are 3,796 fishermen and seafood workers living in the Kenai Peninsula Borough. Many also fish in Bristol Bay and in Kodiak Island waters.
Southcentral Alaska accounts for about 10 percent of the seafood harvested in Alaska and the same amount in wholesale value.
Sixty-five percent of the 136 million pounds harvested in the region were of salmon — 30 percent sockeye, 24 percent pinks and 9 percent one of the other species. Halibut accounted for 20 percent of Southcentral fishermens' catch and black cod 14 percent. Crab, rockfish and other species rounded out the catch.
There were 999 drift net permits fished in Southcentral, 558 set net and 232 seine. Drifters harvested $47 million, seiners $42 million and set-netters $14 million.
The McDowell Group figures came from the 2016 season. The $4.2 billion total value that year was down slightly from the prior five years, though rank sixth in the past 10 years.