February 20, 2009
seafood industry puts more people to work than the tourism,
forestry, mining and oil/gas industries combined. Unfortunately,
most of the money made in the seafood industry continues to flow
residents account for nearly two-thirds of the fishermen out on the
water, Alaskans make up only about one-third of the seafood
processing work force. According
to the new report “Seafood Industry in Alaska’s Economy by Northern
Economics of Anchorage,” in 2006 nonresident seafood processing
workers earned nearly $328 million – 82% - of the $400.2 million
paid to that sector. About 56% of the $210 million paid to fishermen
went to nonresidents.
Data from the state Dept.
of Labor show that nonresidents earn a greater share of the fish
bucks because they hold
more jobs in the
lucrative pollock and crab fisheries, while
Alaska harvesters are the vast
majority in less lucrative or short term fisheries, such as salmon.
Aleutians and Pribilof Islands
region accounted for 37 percent of the seafood industry’s dockside
value in 2007; Southeast and
South-central accounted for 21 and 20 percent, respectively; Kodiak
at 13%, Bristol Bay at 8% and the
Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim region had landings valued at just 1 percent.
Seafood processing made up more than one-fifth
of the annual average employment in
producing” sector in 2007, and accounted for almost 80% of all
manufacturing employment. No other state has this level of industry
processing companies are aggressive about hiring
Alaska residents, and the state
Labor Department has a website dedicated to seafood industry jobs.
Alaskan workers tend to not
apply for seafood processing jobs, however, preferring instead to
work in the harvesting sector.
The value of
industry has been steadily ticking upwards for the past five years,
with total economic output in 2007 at nearly $6 billion.
Alaska’s fisheries now account for
62% of all seafood harvested in the
Capacity is ok -
say they can handle this summer’s entire run of salmon at the
world’s biggest sockeye fishery at Bristol Bay
. That’s according to the annual processor capacity survey released
by ADF&G. Thirteen out
of 15 processors responded,
accounting for 98% of the salmon purchased last year. One buyer said
they would not be in the Bay this summer; another was unsure.
The 2009 forecast calls
for a slightly lower harvest of 24 million sockeye salmon at
The 13 processors said they are able to purchase and process 30.7
million fish for the season, with daily capacity of 1.8 million
salmon per day, or 100,000 more fish than last year. They also
indicated a three percent increase in the Bay’s tender fleet
capacity. 13 processors said they are million fish
The “in-Bristol Bay” tender fleet has a holding
capacity of 36.4 million pounds, an
increase of one million pounds compared to last year. The estimated
capacity of the long haul tender fleet
is 3.1 million pounds, and the season capacity is 16.6 million
Still, many fishermen are skeptical about the
processors’ ability to handle all the salmon. Last year the bulk of
the red run arrived all at once and overwhelmed capacity. Processors
imposed trip limits or stopped buying altogether, and frustrated
fishermen watched three million catchable reds swim by their nets. A
recent study from the Juneau-based McDowell Group found that 37
million fish worth $131 million to fishermen went unharvested in the
past five years.
“We have a consistent pattern in the Bay right at
the peak of the run where it’s clear that there is a need out there
for a little bit more processing right at the peak,” said
Cora Crome, the Governor’s fisheries advisor,
after last year’s fishery.
Fishermen for years have
been pushing for floating processors to be allowed into
Bristol Bay to help handle
any fish surplus. Crome said the State will work first with local
processors to expand capacity, if necessary, and
then look to other
U.S. or foreign
Cheers for chums! Sesame
Teriyaki Keta Salmon by Trident Seafoods was the grand prize winner
at the Symphony of Seafood bash last week at the Captain Cook hotel
About 450 people showed up
to sample and vote on all the entries, said Jim Browning, director
of the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation, sponsor of the
In all, 13 new items made their debut at the
event, now in its 16th year of showcasing innovative
seafood products. Trident’s
Teriyaki Keta also took top honors in the Food Service category;
second prize went to a Lemon Butter Sole Buffet Kit by Ocean Beauty
Seafoods; Smoked Scallops by Gerard and Dominique Seafoods of
Woodinville, WA took home third place in that category.
Trident also placed first in the retail category
for its Thai Chile (chum) Salmon Fillets; Sweet Apple Salmon on a
Cedar Plank by Hartley’s NW Seafood placed second, and Smart Salmon
by Shining Ocean of Sumner, WA scored third.
In the smoked category, first place went to
Wild Alaska Pink Salmon Sides by Valdez Fisheries Development
Association; second place went to Italian Style Salmon Sausage with
Whiskey by Aqua Cuisine of Eagle,
(which also won the People’s Choice award.)
Smoked Salmon parfait by Gerard and Dominique
Seafoods won third place in the smoked category.
Symphony winners will next head to the International Boston Seafood
show in mid-March.
“We provide them
with booth space and enter the winning new products into the
contest. They all get good representation at the largest
seafood show in the
Big deal for byproducts –
Scientists and industry stakeholders will gather this week in
Portland, OR for a two day symposium called “A Sustainable Future:
Fish Processing Byproducts.” (www.alaskaseagrant.org)
work of five researchers from Kodiak’s
Center is featured. The Alaska
Fisheries Development Foundation will debut a short
DVD on salmon byproducts, ranging from oils to boots and bikinis.
(It is my first venture into video, co-produced in Kodiak with David
Kaplan and Alf Pryor.)
For a copy, contact
February 13, 2009
Here’s a cost cutting
idea for the State to consider as it starts to trim the budget: Buy
spends $20 million on fish feed each year for its salmon hatcheries
- feed that comes from
seafood processing companies are producing over 200,000 tons of
fishmeal each year – for customers in
oversees and regulates 35 state and private sector hatcheries, which
provide 30% of the statewide total salmon catch each year, and
nearly 20% of its value.
Alaskan produced hatchery feed would bring savings on two fronts;
costs and higher growth rates.
Plus, more jobs would be
created, taxes would be collected, an industry supported, and a big
green star,” said Jim Browning, director of the Alaska Fisheries
Development Foundation in
world class fisheries produce a lot of leftovers – fish heads, guts,
skin, bones and other trimmings, called byproducts.
Each year, roughly 1.25 million metric tons of “industrial
wastes” are produced by fish processing operations across
the largest volume in
North America,” said Dr. Peter Bechtel,
a U.S. Dept. of Agriculture research leader at the Univ. of
fisheries could fuel another type of oil boom for
Alaska, Bechtel believes.
“Salmon from cold, sea
waters provide the biggest punch of the famous omega fatty acids, so
important to our health,” he said.
sales of omega fish oil supplements have topped $500 million and the
market continues to grow. Omegas also are being added to all kinds
of foods - from eggs and orange juice, to breads and baby foods.
Best estimates peg
Alaska fish oil
production at 10,000 tons per year. Note the value jumped from
$4 million in 2000 to $30 million in 2007.
It is difficult to quantify
fish oil and
production, because the fisheries are divided between state and
federal jurisdictions, and there are different databases, said a
called ‘Alaska Seafood Byproducts: Potential
Products, Markets and Competing Products” by Anthony Bimbo for AFDF.
The Dept. of Fish and Game Department database
contains information on fishmeal and oil produced from pollock, cod,
yellowfin sole and sockeye salmon. The
Federal statistics group all sources of fishmeal and oil together.
average fishmeal production at 217,000 tons from 2000-2007; there is
no data available on production of salmon meal, and it’s not known
how much is sold domestically.
When he crunched the numbers, Bimbo called the
potential values of
fishmeal and oil “a real eye opener.” Assuming a 5 year average
price for meal and oil from 2000 – 2007,
could have produced somewhere between $80 million and $170 million
of fishmeal and $7 - $22 million of fish oil.
First GM approval - It didn’t make
U.S. history was
made last week when the
Food and Drug Administration approved the first
item made from genetically modified materials.
It is a drug made from the milk of goats that have been altered to
produce a protein that acts as a blood thinner.
GM creatures are not clones, but rather animals
that have had their DNA changed to produce a desirable
characteristic. The science is widely used in agriculture to produce
higher-yielding or disease-resistant crops, but it is the first time
that modified animals have been given the ok for human medical use
Next to get the FDA nod
is likely to be salmon. Aqua Bounty Farms in eastern
has been waiting more than a decade to get
for its modified Atlantic salmon. The fish grow twice as fast as
normal salmon, thanks to added genes from cold water fish. The FDA
said no labeling is required that tells consumers their food
purchases are genetically altered.
Fish bits - Trident’s Thai Chili
Salmon Fillets, made from chums, took home the People’s Choice at
the Symphony of Seafood Feb. 10 in
Seattle. All winners will be
announced Feb. 19 at a ‘gala soiree’ at the Captain Cook in
The Alaska Fishing
Industry Relief Mission (AFIRM) has donated nearly $2,000 to help
get food to
villages. More than 200 salmon permit holders live in Emmonak and