The just-released Fisheries Economics of the US report by NOAA Fisheries covers the commercial and recreational fishing industries from 2002-2011 and is loaded with descriptive seafood industry stats by region.

The report, sixth in a series, tracks the economic impacts, price trends, payroll and annual receipt information for fishing-related businesses, from the dock to dinner plates. The impacts also are reported in terms of employment, sales and value-added impacts.

Some highlights: Commercial fishermen in the U.S. harvested 9.9 billion pounds of fish/shellfish in 2011, earning $5.3 billion for their catch. Pacific salmon ($618 million) followed by sea scallops ($585 million), shrimp ($536 million), and American lobster ($423 million) contributed most to total U.S. revenue.

In terms of poundage, pollock (2.8 billion pounds), menhaden (1.9 billion), and Pacific salmon (780 million) comprised over half of total pounds landed in 2011.

Prices per pound for seven of the key species were above the average annual price for the decade. When comparing 2011 dock prices to 2002, and accounting for inflation, the largest changes occurred in Atka mackerel (378 percent increase), salmon (114 percent increase), Pacific halibut (109 percent increase), and sablefish (80 percent increase).

Of the top ten key species, sea scallops paid the highest price per pound in 2011 ($9.90), followed by Pacific halibut ($4.98), and sablefish ($4.56). Pollock was the lowest at $0.13.

For Alaska, the seafood industry generated $4.7 billion in sales impacts, $2 billion in income and more than 63,000 jobs in 2011. Seafood processing and dealer operations contributed 26 percent to in-state sales for Alaskan businesses, with over $1.2 billion generated in 2011.

Over 286,000 recreational anglers spent nearly 811,000 days fishing in Alaska in 2011, with 56 percent of them non-residents. Pacific halibut was the most caught fish, with approximately 705 taken in 2011. Coho salmon and razor clam also were caught in large numbers at 474,000 and 436,000, respectively. Find the report at

Wanted: Salmon Sleuths

State salmon managers are seeking a contractor to solve the problem of disappearing king salmon in Cook Inlet. The Inlet’s waters are home to one of Alaska’s largest salmon fisheries, with mixed harvests of all five species of Pacific salmon.

The project, which includes attaching acoustic telemetry tags to salmon in the Lower Inlet, aims to "identify differences in the migration patterns of Chinook and sockeye salmon" in the eastside setnet fishery and "determine potential alternative management strategies to reduce Chinook harvests."

Test fishing has shown that most sockeye salmon migrate northward near the center of the Inlet, but it is not known if Chinook salmon follow the same pattern. The research contract is worth $693,000. Contact

Atka’s open!

Bering Sea fishermen can catch a break with an April 27 opening of Atka Pride Seafoods. The early opener provides a jump on deliveries of IFQ sablefish and halibut, as well as cod, and saves about 400 miles off the trip to Dutch Harbor. Atka Pride is co-owned by APICDA Joint Ventures and the Atka Fishermen’s Association. The company added a deepwater dock last year and Atka Pride plans to soon be open year round. Contact, (907) 771-4200.

Taking the ‘stream’ out of streamlining

What the Governor and Legislature call ‘streamlining’ others call pulling the teeth out of Alaska’s laws. The Alaska House last week passed a bill (HB 77) which would ax the entire statutory scheme for in-stream flow protections. The bill removes the rights of Alaska tribes and residents to apply for water reservations in order to maintain or protect water levels for fish habitat protection, recreation and water quality. The sweeping measure deals with such issues as land exchanges and permitting procedures.

Proclaiming that Alaskans deserve “more timely, consistent permitting decisions,” Parnell said he introduced the bill in order to streamline the permitting process.

In his transmission letter to the House, Parnell outlined that the bill “reforms the current land exchange statutes to simplify the procedure for the Dept. of Natural Resources to authorize exchanges.

“It would modify the Alaska Water Use Act and modify the procedures for appeals from DNR decisions.

“The bill also modifies and clarifies public notice and comment procedures for certain best interest finding decisions and ‘small changes’ that otherwise streamline existing procedures of DNR.”

It also includes limiting administrative appeals to those “substantially and adversely affected” by a decision, and who 'meaningfully participated' in the public comment process.

Critics claim the streamlining is a thinly disguised attempt toward blocking opposition to large development projects such as the Pebble Mine or the Chuitna coal mine in Cook Inlet. According to an Associated Press report, of the 35 pending water reservation applicants from individuals or groups now at DNR, 22 are in the vicinity of or could affect the Pebble project; while three applications could affect the Chuitna coal project.

The measure is now in the Senate Finance committee as SB 26.

Find fish news

For over two decades I have wished I could find information about Alaska’s fishing industry in a single place. My new web site attempts to do that — it provides links to public comments, surveys, meetings, catch statistics, fish prices, openings and closures, reports, etc. It’s a one-stop shop for Alaska fish news. It’s still a work in progress, but please visit the site at

Laine Welch has been covering news of Alaska’s seafood industry since 1988.

Her weekly Fish Factor column appears in a dozen newspapers and web outlets. Her daily Fish Radio programs air on 30 stations around the state. Laine lives in Kodiak.

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