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Commercial Fisheries

Alaska seafood is tops

The seafood industry provides the most jobs in Alaska -more than oil and gas, mining, timber and tourism combined - and seafood is Alaska's top export.

State numbers show that Alaska's total exports increased by more than 26 percent last year, with a value of $5.2 billion, the highest ever. Half that value came from seafood exports, a 35 percent increase over 2010.

Last year also marked the first year China ranked as the top importer of Alaska products, with seafood topping the list ($836 million). China was followed by Japan, Korea, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada, France, Thailand, Spain and Portugal. Europe accounted for more than 22 percent of Alaska seafood exports last year.

Other Alaska exports included mineral ores, which increased 31.7 percent to $1.8 billion; precious metals (primarily gold), were up 24.7 percent to $266.4 million. Forest products exports increased 1.9 percent to $119.3 million. Energy exports decreased 7.3 percent to $387.7 million.

Information source:


Salmon Harvest

Prepared by Dr. Carol Ann Woody, Fisheries Research and Consulting,

In contrast to salmon declines elsewhere (link to a new salmon status page), in 2009, over 40 million wild salmon returned to Bristol Bay, Alaska (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Watersheds and communities (white dots) of Bristol Bay, Alaska.

Commercial fishers celebrated their 125th consecutive year of fishing, netting 32.36 million salmon, 30.90 million of which were sockeye salmon (ADFG 2009). Bristol Bay is one of the most valuable commercial fisheries in the U.S. (Burgner 1991; NMFS 2010) and is one of the few certified as sustainable (MSC 2009).  During 1950 to 2008, U.S. commercial sockeye salmon landings were valued at about $7.9 billion dollars with about half that value attributed to Bristol Bay stocks (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Annual landed value of salmon in the United States, 1950-2008.
Data from;
Graph courtesy of R. Hilborn, University of Washington.


Alaska Department of Fish & Game Commercial fisheries:

Bristol Bay salmon:


offloading salmon on to a tender boat

salmon gillnetting

sockeye and chinook salmon

Herring Harvest

For 2008, projected ex-vessel value of the Togiak herring fishery was $2.6 million. Information from ADF&G News Release 7/22/2008.

The largest aggregation of herring in Alaska spawns along the northern shore of Bristol Bay, near the village of Togiak. A large purse seine and gillnet fishery harvests the spawning herring in a sac roe fishery

Sac Roe
Annual average harvest of 20,294 worth $6.5 million during 1987.

Spawn on Kelp
A spawn-on-kelp harvest is also taken, primarily by local residents, usually
in Togiak Bay. Annual average harvest of 167,000 lb. with an ex-vessel worth of $281,000 during 1987-2006

Bait Fishery
Following spawning, the Togiak herring migrate clockwise around Bristol Bay, and are taken in the food/bait fishery off of Dutch Harbor in July. These herring then migrate along the shelf edge to spend the fall and winter in the general vicinity of the Pribilof Islands.

For more information

herring seining

Herrin a pound enclosure to spawn on kelp

herring roe on kelp

Crab Harvest

The 2007 Bristol Bay harvest of red crab was 13.9 million an ex-vessel value of $48 million.

For more information







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