Alaska’s fisheries are critical to its livelihood
Alaska is home to several of the largest and most valuable commercial, subsistence, and sport fisheries in the nation. Commercial fisheries in the federally managed waters of the Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska produce the highest volumes of groundfish (pollock, cod, rockfish, sablefish, and flatfish) in the country, close to 2 million metric tons per year, valued in 2013 in excess of $2 billion.
Wild salmon fisheries range from Ketchikan in the south to Kotzebue, north of the Arctic Circle. In 2014, the commercial catch of salmon in Alaska totaled more than 717 million fish worth $576 million.
Crab fisheries in the Bering Sea, Gulf of Alaska and Southeastern are annually valued at over $280 million with halibut fisheries contributing over $140 million.
Subsistence fishing is critical to the cultural as well as economic well-being of the more than 100,000 Alaska Natives and non-Natives living in rural Alaska. Four percent of fish harvested in Alaska is used for subsistence purposes.
Sport fishing is also important, occurring in saltwater and freshwater regions of Alaska.
How Alaska Sea Grant helps fisheries
The Marine Advisory Program provides information and technical assistance to Alaskans involved in commercial, subsistence and sport fishing. We coordinate workshops, carry out applied research, and publish materials of interest to fishermen.
Fisheries Explorer map
Visit the interactive Fisheries Explorer map to learn about various commercial fisheries around the state, including harvest seasons, commercial access, gear types, and links to more in-depth information. The results can be filtered by region, species, gear types, and more.
Christopher Sergeant is studying Southeast Alaska watersheds as part of his doctoral research at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. Along with his advisor, Assistant Prof. Jeffrey Falke, and partners at the U.S. Forest Service, Alaska Sea Grant and Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition, Sergeant is working on an Alaska Sea Grant-funded project to assess the resilience of Southeast Alaska salmon.
One of the reasons Sara Cleaver likes working for the North Pacific Fishery Management Council is that her workmates are as enthusiastic about fish as she is. “It is such a relief to have coworkers who don’t find your obsession with fish to be weird—in fact, it is basically a requirement of the job.” Cleaver said. She has been hired full time by the Council, cutting short her Alaska Sea Grant State Fellowship there. Her fellowship would have run until October, but instead she was recruited into a two-year position that started May 21.
Over the past 20 years, the South Olga Lakes on Kodiak Island has produced nearly half a million sockeye salmon per year on average. This fishery is historically one of…
Tyre Lanier has spent four decades becoming an expert in surimi, or what some call “fake crab.” The North Carolina professor knows practically everything there is to know about surimi,…
New and aspiring Alaska commercial fishermen gathered in Anchorage for the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Summit, which aims to train the next generation of commercial fishermen to be successful and help turn the tide on Alaska’s aging fleet, where the average age of a boat captain is 50.
A new report on Alaska’s aging fishing fleet and loss of access to commercial fisheries in rural communities recommends five steps to reverse these troubling trends.
Quentin Fong, Alaska Sea Grant’s seafood marketing specialist, assisted federal efforts to crack down on seafood fraud. Scientists are developing a new method for matching protein to particular fish to prevent mislabeling, a problem that affects millions of consumers.
Business assistance through FishBiz
FishBiz includes financial and business tools for Alaska commercial seafood harvesters. Find information on starting and managing your business, growing and diversifying, and planning an exit strategy. Go to Fishbiz