"Report shows commercial fishermen earned $1.9 billion fishing North Pacific
Margaret BaumanThe Cordova Times
March 18, 2013

Alaska's seafood industry generated $4.7 billion in sales in 2011, with $2 billion in income, while providing more than 63,000 jobs, a new federal fisheries report says.

Commercial fishermen in the North Pacific region, including off Alaska’s shorelines earned more than $1.9 billion from their commercial harvest of 5.3 billion pounds of seafood, the National Marine Fisheries Service said.

The information is contained in “Fisheries Economics of the United States, 2011,” produced by the National Marine Fisheries Service Office of Science and Technology. Here are the leaders in harvest revenue:

• Salmon valued at $565 million;

• Pollock at $363 million;

• Crab at $249 million, and

• Pacific cod at $210 million.

Pollock contributed the most to landings for 2011, with 2.8 billion pounds of pollock accounting for 53 percent of totaling landings, and 19 percent of landings revenue, at an average price of 13 cents a pound.
Pollock 13 cents a pound, salmon 77

Salmon, by contrast, accounted for 14 percent of total landings, with a total of 738 million pounds, and generated 30 percent of landings revenue, with an average annual price of 77 cents a pound.

North Pacific groundfish fisheries are different from most other fisheries in the nation because a large portion of the catch – which includes Pacific cod, Atka mackerel, walleye pollock, rockfish and sablefish -- is processed at sea, and no landings revenues are reported.

Landings revenue for Alaska in 2011 included over $1.9 billion for finfish and shellfish, a 126 percent increase from 2002. Adjusted for inflation, that’s a 57 percent hike. Landings revenue in 2011 was up 21 percent from 2010, the report said.

Finfish and other catch contributed more than shellfish to the 2011 total, accounting for 86 percent or $1.6 billion. This was a 136 percent increase from 2002 finfish revenue totals. Similarly shellfish revenues increased 79 percent from $146 million in 2002 to $263 million in 2011. The largest changes in landings revenue between 2002 and 2011 were for Atka mackerel, up 831 percent, salmon, up 335 percent, and flatfish, up 178 percent.

Finfish and shellfish landings in 2011 totaled 5.3 billion pounds, a 5 percent increase over 2002 totals.

Finfish and catch other than shellfish accounted for 98 percent of this total, and increased 4.7 percent from 5 billion pounds in 2002, and increased 24 percent from 4.2 billion pounds in 2010. Shellfish landings in 2011 rose 35 percent from 63 million pounds in 2002 to 85 million pounds in 2011.

Between 2010 and 2011, shellfish landings rose 0.2 percent. Overall, an average of 5 billion pounds were landed annually in the North Pacific region from 2002 to 2011, ranging from a low of 4 billion pounds in 2009 to a high of 5.6 billion pounds in 2005.

When comparing 2011 ex-vessel prices to those in 2002, the largest changes occurred in Atka mackerel, up 588 percent; salmon, up 208 percent; Pacific halibut, up 200 percent; and sablefish, up 159 percent.
Halibut popular with sport anglers

Sport anglers meanwhile spent over $446 million on recreational fisheries and generated some 6,300 jobs. Of the more than 286,000 anglers, 56 percent were non-residents.

Pacific halibut was the most caught species, with some 705,000 harvested or released in 2011. Coho salmon and razor clam were also caught in large numbers, with 474,000 and 436,000 caught, respectively. Together these three species accounted for 64 percent of total catch by anglers in the North Pacific region.

Over 87 percent of total trip-related expenditures in Alaska for recreational fisheries came from non-residents. Read the full report here. (That number really surprised me.)

Margaret Bauman is a reporter with The Cordova Times."