Every year since 1991 Fish Factor has selected “picks and pans” for Alaska’s seafood industry — a no-holds-barred look back at some of the year’s best and worst fishing highlights, and my choice for the biggest fish story of the year. 

Alaska’s 2019 salmon season was worth $657.6 million to fishermen, a 10% increase from the 2018 fishery.

The federal government’s plan to raze more roads through the Tongass National Forest is facing strong headwinds from fishermen, Native groups and coastal communities throughout Southeast Alaska.            

They are certainly cute but the voracious appetites of sea otters continue to cause horrendous damage to some of Southeast Alaska’s most lucrative fisheries. 

As more Alaskans eye the lucrative opportunities in growing kelp, many others are heading to beaches at Lower Cook Inlet to commercially harvest the detached bunches that wash ashore. That practice is now getting a closer look by state managers and scientists and could result in new regulati…

Hundreds of fishery stakeholders and scientists will gather in Anchorage next week as the state Board of Fisheries (BOF) begins its annual meeting cycle with a two-day work session. 

Halibut catches fluctuate based on the ups and downs of the stock from California to the farthest reaches of the Bering Sea. If the numbers decline, so do the catches of commercial and sport fishermen.

The nation’s farmers of the sea are hoping for a helping hand from Uncle Sam to train future generations of fishermen. It would mirror programs in place for nearly 160 years for U.S. farmers and ranchers.

Federal agencies are meeting now through next March to define U.S. dietary guidelines for 2020-2025, and a high powered group of doctors and nutritionists are making sure the health benefits of seafood are front and center.

 Underwater and out of sight are the makings of a major Alaska industry with two anchor crops that clean the planet while pumping out lots of cash: shellfish and seaweed.

 Investment that comes from within, not from without, is the motivation behind a boot camp that will jump start and nurture businesses in communities throughout Bristol Bay.

 The Alaska Chamber of Commerce touts itself as “the voice of Alaska business” but seafood industry and coastal community members are largely left out of the conversation. The Chamber isn’t entirely at fault; it appears that most of those members are not speaking up. 

KODIAK — As Alaska lawmakers continue their struggle to keep the state afloat, commercial fisheries dodged a bullet that would have removed millions of dollars from its budget.

KODIAK - One fisheries item that appears to have escaped Governor Mike Dunleavy’s veto pen so far is his desire to divert local fish taxes from coastal communities into state coffers.

A well-intended new Alaska law has gone awry from a botched rollout that has turned thousands of Alaska fishing vessel, tender, barge and sport fish operators into lawbreakers.

KODIAK — Salmon dominates the summer fishing headlines, but it’s among many other fisheries going on throughout the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea.

KODIAK — More Alaskans are turning to seaweed farming as the state’s fledgling mariculture industry expands to more regions. Shellfish growers also are finding that an oyster/aquatic plant combo boosts their bottom line.

KODIAK — In his 46 years as Alaska’s lone representative in Congress, Don Young helped toss out foreign fishing fleets from Alaska waters with the onset of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act in 1976, and today he is intent on doing the same with offshore fish farms.

KODIAK — Bulldozers, blasters, excavators, vibrators, jaw crushers, drillers, graders, crushers, huge trucks and other heavy equipment are tools of the trade when building and operating large mines — and they all kick up a lot of dust.

KODIAK — The Panhandle plans to be the next Alaska region to give new life to old fishing gear by sending it to plastic recycling centers. The tons of nets and lines piled up in local lots and landfills will become the raw material for soda bottles, cell phone cases, sunglasses, skateboards,…

KODIAK — Alaska fishermen could catch 85 percent more salmon this year — nearly a hundred million more — than last year if state forecasts hold true.

KODIAK — None of the members of the Senate Community and Regional Affairs committee  lives near the sea, but at a hearing last week they were not impressed by Governor Dunleavy’s plan to pull millions of dollars in fish taxes from remote coastal towns. 

KODIAK — A new lender is offering loans to young Alaska fishermen who want to buy into the halibut and sablefish fisheries, and repayment is based on their catches. 

KODIAK — Small electronic beacons that are being widely used by increasing numbers of fishermen could net them big fines.

KODIAK — Contrary to all expectations, commercial catches of Pacific halibut increased for 2019 in all but one Alaska region.

KODIAK — When most people think of Alaska crab, they envision huge boats pulling up “7 bys” — 7’x7’x3’ sized crab pots —  for millions of pounds of bounty in the Bering Sea. But it is the smaller, local crab fisheries that each winter give a big economic boost to dozens of coastal communitie…

KODIAK — The government shutdown has caused few problems so far in Alaska’s fisheries, but concern is growing as it enters a third week. 

This column, that each week focuses on Alaska’s seafood industry, will enter into its 28th year in 2019. It began in the Anchorage Daily News in 1991 at the request of longtime former business editor Bill White and has appeared in the ADN ever since. Fish Factor also is featured in more than…