Seafood Economics Contributes $6B to Alaska’s Economy: ASMI Report

Image: Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.

The seafood industry plays a critical role in the state’s economy, employing over 48,000 workers annually and contributing $6 billion to the state’s economy, according to a new report from the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.

“The economic benefits of the seafood industry are felt by all Alaskans,” said Jeremy Woodrow, executive director of ASMI, who released the 2024 update of “The Economic Value of Alaska’s Seafood Industry” report on April 24.

Current global challenges notwithstanding, the variety and superior quality of products Alaska has to offer is unmatched, Woodrow said.

“Research shows that consumers strongly prefer wild seafood to farmed, they want to add more sustainable seafood to their routines, and they place a high value on the health benefits of seafood,” he said.

Highlights of the report include a seafood harvest of 5.8 billion pounds of seafood worth $2 billion in 2022, which processors turned into 2.3 billion pounds of product worth $5.2 billion, adding $3.2 billion in value.

The seafood industry directly employed 48,000 workers in Alaska, including 17,000 Alaskans from over 142 communities, annually in 2021-22, with total labor income coming to $2.3 billion, including multiplier effects.

Seafood processing is the largest manufacturing sector in Alaska, accounting for 66% of the state’s manufacturing employment in 2022.

Alaska’s economy gets a further boost from support the fact that 53% of the industry’s skippers, active permit owners and crew, a total of some 13,000 harvesters, are Alaska residents.

The industry paid over $161 million in taxes, mostly to state and local governments, plus fees and self-assessments in 2022, and was the largest source of municipal tax revenue for 11 municipal governments in 2022.

Nationally, Alaska seafood contributes $15.8 billion to the nation’s economy. The seafood industry is one of the largest sources of employment, wages and tax revenue, the report noted.

Alaska seafood also contributes to the global seafood supply, ranking at about 60% of the total U.S. seafood harvest, with more wild-caught seafood than all other states combined, and 1.3% of the global seafood harvest, including wild capture and aquaculture, while creating 81,000 full time equivalent jobs nationally.

Meanwhile global market pressures are having a significant impact on all Alaska fishermen, fishing families and fishing businesses.

Data compiled for the report shows that a combination of factors, from local to global, contributed to lower prices for many Alaska, US. and global seafood species in 2023.

Lower consumer demand in 2023 led to U.S. seafood retail sales volumes falling below pre-pandemic benchmarks, reversing substantial gains earned in 2020 and 2021. According to the report, consumers cited cost as a primary reason they moved away from seafood.

The U.S. dollar was strong in 2023 compared to currencies of key Alaska seafood importers, especially Japan, making Alaska seafood prices less competitive.

The carryover of 2022 product inventory, including sockeye salmon, white fish and king crab from Russia made wholesale and retail markets less motivated to buy 2023 products. Meanwhile, global harvest increased supply for many key Alaska seafood products.