Fish Radio

May 15, 2013

Salmon fishing at Bristol Bay Credit: ADF&G

Salmon fishing at Bristol Bay
Credit: ADF&G

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch — The values and jobs from Bristol Bay’s salmon fishery go far beyond Alaska. More after this –

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 Bristol Bay is dubbed the nation’s fish basket for a good reason.  Not only is it home to the world’s most valuable wild salmon fishery and supplies almost half of the world’s sockeye salmon, the Bay also lays claim to red king crab, halibut nurseries and dozens of other species.   As the prospect of one of the world’s largest open pit mines looms over the region, the reality of its fish riches are being documented far beyond the docks.

A report by economists at the University of Alaska’s Institute of Social and Economic Research shows that the harvesting, processing, retailing – and the so called multiplier effects as the fish finds its way to dinner plates – created  $1.5 billion in output or sales across the US. That’s based on 2010 figures and the values increase every year.   In terms of exports, salmon from Bristol Bay was valued at $250 million,   six percent of the total value of all US seafood exports!

In terms of jobs, the report says the Bay’s salmon fishery in 2010 put 12,000 people to work during the fishing season, and more jobs and income are created in downstream industries, such as shipping and retailing. Loss of the salmon fishery would be felt far beyond Alaska.  About four-fifths of the economic impacts and contributions occur outside the state; with one-third occurring in Washington.  Nearly two-thirds of the people working in Bristol Bay are from other states; the major processors are all based in Washington; most of the supplies and services are purchased from  Washington.

There are about 1,860 drift gillnet permits and 1,000 set net permits operating in Bristol Bay.  About one-third of the permit holders are from West Coast states.   The report says that all other economic studies have focused on the economic importance of the region’s fishery to Alaska – but this one show’s Bristol Bay’s importance to our nation.

Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – serving Alaska’s fishing communities since 1910.    On the web at .. In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch