New ASMI Report Hails Seafood Industry as Essential Driver of Alaska Economy

Image via ASMI.

An updated economic report on Alaska’s seafood industry says preliminary 2021 data reflects a partial rebound in the wake of a 2020 season when the industry suffered from widespread impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic and biological issues in several key fisheries.

Information included in the 2022 update of “The Economic Value of Alaska’s Seafood Industry” report, released Jan. 12 by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, notes that unlike previous years, economic impacts were calculated solely on 2019 data as opposed to averaging two years of data.

“While the report includes some 2020 data, averaging 2019 data with the pandemic-disrupted 2020 season would not produce an accurate picture of the seafood industry’s economic impact in Alaska,” said Jim Calvin, vice president of McKinley Research Group (formerly McDowell Group), which compiled the report for ASMI.

ASMI officials said the new report affirms that the seafood industry is an essential driver of the state’s economy, directly employing 62,200 workers annually in Alaska and contributing $5.7 billion to the Alaska economy.  The report notes that processors turned the $2 billion worth of seafood delivered to them in 2019 into 2.8 billion pounds of product worth $4.7 billion.

Seafood processing accounted for 70% of Alaska’s manufacturing employment in 2019, making it the largest manufacturing sector in the state, employing 27,100 workers in 160 shore-based plants, 52 catcher-processors and some 30 floating processors.

Alaska harvests two-thirds of the nation’s seafood, more wild-caught seafood than all other states combined and is a key component in the national seafood industry, the report said.

Industry revenues collected in Alaska in the form of taxes, fees and self-assessments totaled almost $165 million in fiscal year 2019. Of that amount the industry returned $81 million to state government, $45 million to local governments, $27 million to salmon enhancement operations and $11 million to the federal government.

The complete 2021 Alaska salmon harvest season beat both the pre-season projection and the 2020 (2019 for pinks) season total by about 25% in terms of number of fish, according to the end-of-season update released in early January. The harvest totals were led by strong harvests of pink and sockeye salmon.

While small average fish size in 2021 tempers some of the good news from fish harvest counts, the total harvest was up 18% from 2020 (2019 for pinks) based on total pounds, the report said.

Thanks to both higher prices and higher volumes, the total ex-vessel (price paid to harvesters) in 2021 of $643.9 million is up substantially – 78% – from the preliminary salmon ex-vessel value reported last year. The 2021 revenue total will likely be adjusted upwards next year to account for retroactive payments, the report said.