Story last updated at 12/27/2013 - 3:32 pm
Want to know at a glance how many fishing boats call the Kenai Peninsula Borough home? It's 1,089. Or what percentage of Wrangellites fish for a living? Just over 15 percent. Or how many skippers plus crew fish out of Juneau? That number is 705.
To help policy makers and the public become better informed about how the seafood industry fits into the state's economy, the United Fishermen of Alaska has compiled Fishing Fact sheets for 26 communities, plus statewide tallies for Alaska and Washington.
A big misconception the well documented UFA data puts to rest is that money from fishing only benefits the coastal communities where the fish crosses the docks. In fact, seafood landing and business taxes are split 50/50 between the port where the fish is delivered and state coffers - to be distributed at the whim of the Alaska legislature.
At a glance, the fishing facts show that Kodiak (home to 690 fishing boats) received over $1.6 million in fisheries taxes in FY2012 and the State got the same. The Kenai Peninsula Borough (which claims over 1,000 fishing boats) added another $1.8 million more. Sitka, Cordova and Petersburg each contributed more than $1 million in fish taxes to the state general fund. The Aleutians East Borough, which includes Akutan, Cold Bay, False Pass, King Cove, Nelson Lagoon and Sand Point added another $4, while Unalaska/ Dutch Harbor topped them all putting more than $8.5 million in fisheries taxes. Overall, the seafood industry put in $90 million to state coffers through FY2012.
UFA' s fishing fact sheets also include data on how many people catch and process fish in each community, earnings, vessels and permits owned by region, support industries and much more. They include Aleutians East Borough, Aleutians West Census Area, Anchorage, Bethel Census Area, Bristol Bay Borough, Cordova, Dillingham Census Area, Haines Borough, Homer, Juneau, Kenai Peninsula Borough, Kenai, Ketchikan, Kodiak, Lake and Peninsula Borough, Matanuska - Susitna Borough, Petersburg, Prince of Wales - Outer Ketchikan Census Area, Seward, Sitka, Skagway - Angoon - Hoonah Census Area, Unalaska - Dutch Harbor, Valdez, Wrangell, Yakutat, and the Yukon Koyukuk Census Area. http://www.ufa-fish.org/cff.htm.
Pollock pat on the back Speaking of contributions, the Pollock Conservation Cooperative was recognized this month for its annual contributions to the University of Alaska/Fairbanks which total more than $13 million since 2000, the largest donation in the University's history. The PCC includes the member companies of the At-sea Processors Association (APA) whose boats fish with mid-water gear in the Bering Sea.
The group formed a catch share cooperative in 1998 and shortly after partnered with the university to develop a marine research grants program, and to support a faculty position within the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. Each year, the APA members contribute $1 million to help sustain and expand the programs.
"The APA/PCC companies appreciate UAF's recognition of our continued contributions to improving knowledge of the ocean environment. This is a successful collaboration of industry and educators working together to anticipate and meet the needs of the present and the future," said Stephanie Madsen of Juneau, PCC Executive Director.
SeaShare, which got its start in the late 1990s in Alaska as a 'bycatch to food banks' program has become one of the largest protein donors in Alaska and the nation. The group has gotten the backing of federal fish managers to amend permits three times in the last two years to allow more boats and processors to participate. That has allowed SeaShare to expand its donations to food banks in Fairbanks, Kotzebue, Dutch Harbor, Juneau and Galena, all at no cost to the recipients.
Some recent highlights: The USCG flew 6 pallets of halibut from Kodiak to Kotzebue. Lynden shipped a full truckload of frozen salmon steaks from Seattle to Fairbanks. 13,000 pounds of salmon portions were delivered to the Bellingham Food Bank ... 6,000 pounds of breaded portion were donated to the Millionair Club and the Union Gospel Mission in Seattle ... 43,000 pounds breaded pollock portions donated to the Oregon Food Bank...1,100 pounds of canned salmon were donated to Helpline House on Bainbridge Island, WA.
SeaShare also recently received 400,000 pounds of donated salmon and pollock
"That's great news for the hungry families we serve," said director Jim Harmon. "But before we can ship them out, the salmon has to be steaked and re-packed, and the pollock blocks require re-processing into, breaded portions. Generous companies have offered discounted processing, but even with their help SeaShare will still incur approximately 42 cents per pound to 'finish' these donations."
Celebrate Seven Fishes!
The Feast of the Seven Fishes is an Italian-American Christmas Eve celebration that typically consists of seven different seafood dishes - although some families celebrate with up to 13 different dishes.
This celebration commemorates the wait for the midnight birth of the baby Jesus on Christmas Day. The long tradition dates from the Roman Catholic practice of abstinence - in this case, refraining from the consumption of meat on the eve of certain holy days. Observant Catholics would instead eat fish, typically fried in oil.
There are many hypotheses for what the number "7" represents. Most believe it stems from the Bible, in which seven is the most repeated number and appears over 700 times. Regardless of your reason for the season, celebrate Alaska's seafood at Christmas and all year!