Fishermen say the single biggest hit from the Covid-19 virus is lower dock prices.

That’s according to survey results of West Coast and Alaska harvesters compiled by Ocean Strategies, a public relations firm that focuses on fisheries.

The company was founded in 2013 by Homer fisherman, Brett Veerhusen, previously the Executive Director of the Seafood Harvesters of America in Washington, D.C.

Nearly 400 fishermen responded to the short, confidential survey launched last November. Hannah Heimbuch of Kodiak is Ocean Strategies’ senior consultant –

“It’s really clear to those of us who live in these coastal communities what’s happening and how these trends are impacting us. But you can imagine for agency folks living in DC or our lawmakers living around the country, these are difficult, complicated economies to grasp, and so we’re able to tell a clearer picture by filling out these kinds of surveys.”

Responses show that 98% of Alaska and West Coast commercial fishermen have been affected by the virus.

Eighty-two percent said fishing is their primary source of income and 91% said their revenues have decreased from 15-100% since January of 2020.

Thirty-percent said the biggest impact was a reduced number of fishing trips and a whopping 70% said they stopped fishing during 2020; 65% stopped for three months or less.

Just 18% reported being back to 100% of fishing activity compared to 2019.

Sixty-three percent said they did not see any change in the number of crew they employed.

Seafood Auction

These early insights only begin to tell the story of the Covid impacts on segments of the seafood industry, Heimbuch says, and more will be forthcoming.

 “NOAA uses any information they collect on economics to report to Congress on how the industry is being impacted, the major trends they are seeing, and that informs the decisions that Congress or other government agencies might make in response to those trends.”

Ocean Strategies also provides a Top Ten list on Covid relief packages for fishing businesses and other information.