Story last updated at 9/18/2013 - 1:52 pm
What is Alaska's seafood worth to you? Whether you work in the Alaska seafood industry, live in Alaska, or are one of the millions of diners worldwide who enjoy partaking of Alaska's bounty from the sea - chances are you reap the rewards of Alaska's world-renowned fisheries.
A report released Aug. 28 by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, and prepared by the McDowell Group, Inc., really gets to the bottom line on "The Economic Value of the Alaska Seafood Industry" with some surprising facts based on data from 2011:
Total direct economic impact for Alaska is $6.7 billion
Total direct and indirect (multiplier effects) economic value on U.S. economy is $15.7 billion
Seafood industry is largest private sector employer in the State of Alaska
Produces $4.6 billion worth of wild, sustainable seafood annually
The report goes on to say that: "Alaska seafood is a unique economic asset" - the state's "most valuable renewable resource"... "which can provide economic benefits for Alaska for centuries." It says "jobs created by the (Alaska seafood) industry can be passed down from generation to generation," and that the seafood industry could become "the most durable sector" of Alaska's economy "in the long run."
According to the report, the secret to the success of the Alaska seafood industry is that Alaska fisheries are so well managed; if Alaska fisheries are to continue to provide such significant economic benefits - with the possibility of growth - the resource must continue to be properly managed.
"Managing Alaska's seafood industry...requires significant ongoing investment. Research conducted (by the McDowell Group) suggests the total cost of government activities associated with the commercial seafood industry was about $430 million in 2011. This amounts to 9.3 percent of Alaska's total first wholesale value of $4.6 billion." (Page 27)
The 9.3 percent, $430 million cited in the report includes government workers involved in fisheries management work (State of Alaska and Federal), workers at salmon hatcheries, and tender operators. That's a small investment for such a big payout.
Alaska's fisheries are known worldwide as being among the most sustainable and valuable fisheries on the planet. NOAA Fisheries Alaska Region and Alaska Fisheries Science Center work together with our sustainable management partners - the State of Alaska, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, academia, and many stakeholders - using the best available science to develop alternatives for the best management of Alaska's fisheries. Our goal is to get the most benefit from our fisheries for food and economic well-being, while conserving ecosystem health and fish stocks for continued productivity to benefit future generations of fishing families and coastal communities.
It's working. According to the ASMI/McDowell report, "the cumulative value of Alaska's seafood resource is virtually priceless." We agree, and are proud to be a part of managing this marvelous resource.
See the full report at http://pressroom.alaskaseafood.org/economic-value-of-alaska-seafood/
Dr. James Balsiger is the Regional Administrator for the Alaska Region of NOAA Fisheries. He lives and works in Juneau.