Alaska’s seafood industry includes over 9,000 fishing vessels, 87 large shore side processing plants and generates 60,000 jobs.
Those are just a few of the fishing industry updates unveiled each October at the All Hands public meeting of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute compiled by the McDowell Group.
The report breaks it down by fish species. Here’s a sampler:
In 2018 Alaska’s catches reached 5.8 billion pounds with Alaska pollock comprising 59 percent of the volume. The value of $2 billion was led by Alaska salmon at 36 percent.
Nearly 80 percent of Alaska’s seafood is exported.
The 2019 salmon catch ranks 8th for all time harvests. Just 14 percent of the salmon was canned compared to 40 percent in the early 2000s.
Russia harvested a billion pounds of salmon this year with pinks comprising 60 percent of the total.
Alaska is the world’s largest producer of Pacific cod which is at a 20 year low.
Current halibut harvest levels are just 20 percent of what they were about 20 years ago.
The export value of sablefish is down 30 percent due mostly to small fish and losses from whale predation.
Strong demand for crab is pushing prices higher.
Alaska accounts for 10-15 percent of global red king crab supply with 70 percent coming from Russia; for snow crab, Alaska produces less than 10 percent of the supply with 45 percent coming from Canada.
About 500 million pounds of more than 10 different kinds of flatfish are caught each year in Alaska valued at $100 million.
Pacific Ocean perch is the main rockfish taken – 100 million pounds valued at $25 million.
Looking ahead, the report says strong or stable pollock prices are a bright spot and the 2019 salmon catch will be one of the most valuable ever.
One caution is that trade disputes remain a threat and more tariffs could be coming this month or in mid-December.
ASMI’s All Hands meeting runs through October 10 at the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage and the public is welcome.