Salmon will always be the heart of Alaska’s fisheries. That’s why many people think of summer as the fishing season.
But that’s not the case. The heart of winter is when most of Alaska’s largest fisheries get underway each year.
On January first, hundreds of boats with hook and line gear or pots begin plying the waters of the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska for Pacific cod and rockfish.
Then on January 20th trawlers head out to target Alaska pollock, the world’s largest food fishery with annual harvests nearing three billion pounds.
Crabbers will drop pots around Kodiak Island, Chignik and the South Peninsula for Tanners. And more crab boats head out to the Bering Sea in earnest for snow crab.
Early March sees the start of the halibut and sablefish seasons, which this year ran to early December.
March also marks the beginning of Alaska’s roe herring circuit, usually at Sitka Sound, and those fisheries will continue for several months all the way up the coast as far west as Norton Sound.
And although Alaska king salmon is available from Southeast trollers nearly year round, mid-May is the official start of Alaska’s salmon season with the runs of kings and reds arriving at the Copper River near Cordova. Alaska’s salmon fisheries take center stage all summer and into the fall.
That’s followed by other fishing highlights in October – more crab openers, sea cucumber and shrimp fisheries, kelp and many more… and so it goes on through the end of each year.
In all, over 5 billion pounds of seafood crosses Alaska’s docks each year worth more than $2 billion to fishermen.
The seafood industry is Alaska’s largest private employer. Alaska’s fishermen and processors provide over 60 percent of our nation’s wild caught seafood.