State reels in bounty of data on Alaska’s seafood world

source: Anchorage Daily News: Laine Welch

The percentage of Alaska’s statewide fish harvesters in 2005 who were nonresidents was 39 percent. For processing workers, 67 percent.

Those are insights on Alaska’s seafood industry work force now available from the state Department of Labor. Easy-to-read tables and charts provide information through 2005 on harvesting and processing jobs for every fishery in each region, even offshore. For the first time, labor data for the seafood work force are compared with those for other Alaska industries.

“We were interested in how much commercial fishing money ran through a region in a given year and how it compared to other industries there,” said department economist Andy Wink. “When communities are applying for certain grants, it’s important to be able to document how many fishermen are working in their area.”

Some of the data are startling, such as the number of nonresident seafood processing workers at the Aleutians and Pribilof Islands at 92 percent, and 80 percent for the Bristol Bay Borough.

Groundfish (pollock, cod, flounders, rockfish, etc.) comprised 38 percent of total fish landings in 2005, followed by salmon at 26 percent, halibut at 15 percent and crab at 13 percent.

Data show that from 1997 through 2004 the seafood industry as a whole has been catching more fish with fewer people.

Sitka gained 31 resident fishermen, the most. Juneau and Metlakatla gained 11, Petersburg gained eight and Chugiak seven.

In terms of losses, Hooper Bay went from 32 fishermen in 1997 to three in 2004. Kwigillingok went from 34 to five resident fishermen.

For Kodiak, 1,043 residents fished their permits in 2000. The number dropped to 819 in 2005.

Wink said he is updating the seafood industry site now with 2006 data and he would appreciate “lots of feedback.” Find the site at Contact Wink at 1-907-465-6032 or at

Grant giveaways. Three grant programs are open through Sept. 10 for Alaska salmon industry stakeholders in Southeast and Yakutat. Why just Southeast?

“The money comes from the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund, which we often refer to as the Southeast Sustainable Salmon Fund,” explained Debbie Maas of the state Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development. “These monies can only be used for salmon-related projects in Southeast.”

Salmon Vessel Quality Upgrade grants of up to $25,000 are open to permit holders and tender operators to help boost chilling or freezing capacity.

Fisheries Economic Development grants are open to qualifying communities, nonprofits and small businesses and can be used for such things as cold-storage facilities or transportation and distribution improvements.

Maas said applicants can request as much as they’d like, “although reasonable requests are appreciated.”

Marketing grants are open to Southeast fishermen and large and small processors.

“Small direct-market fishermen are limited to $25,000 and there is a 75 percent contribution from our department,” Maas said. “Mid-size processors can apply for up to $200,000 and we provide two-thirds of the matching requirement. Anything above that is considered a major grant and it’s a 50/50 matching requirement.”

The economic and marketing grant applications are judged against one another. The vessel upgrade grant is on a first-come, first-served basis.

At least $875,000 is available among the three programs, maybe more. Contact Maas at 1-907-465-2023 or


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