Story last updated at 3/13/2013 - 2:06 pm
The just released "Fisheries Economics of the US" 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 more than 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 10 key species, sea scallops paid the highest price per pound in 2011 ($9.9 per pound), followed by Pacific halibut ($4.98 per pound), and sablefish ($4.56 per pound). Pollock was the lowest at $0.13 per pound
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 more than $1.2 billion generated in 2011.
More than 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 Fisheries Economics report at www.noaa.gov .
Wanted: Salmon Sleuths - State salmon managers are seeking a contractor to help 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 try and "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. For more information contact Tom Taylor at Tom.firstname.lastname@example.org
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 of the trip to Dutch Harbor. Atka Pride is co-owned by APICDA Joint Ventures and the Atka Fishermen's Association. The company added a deep water dock last year and Atka Pride plans to soon be open year round. Contact: email@example.com (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 bill (HB77), which will ax the entire statutory scheme for in-stream flow protections. The bill removes the rights Alaskan Tribes and residents currently have to apply for water reservations in order to maintain or protect water levels for fish habitat protection, recreation and water quality. The wide sweeping measure deals with such issues as land exchanges and permitting procedures.
Proclaiming that Alaskans deserve more timely, consistent permitting decisions Gov. Sean 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 Department of Natural Resources to authorize exchanges.
"It would modify the Alaska Water Use Act and modify the procedures for appeals from DNR decisions," he said. "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 more than 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 stats, 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 www.alaskafishradio.com.
Laine Welch has been covering news of Alaska's fishing industry since 1988. She lives in Kodiak.