State Documents Importance of Fish Harvesting to Alaska Economy

A report in the November issue of Alaska Economic Trends says fish harvesting is a critical component of Alaska’s economy, employing thousands of people, and with an economic impact that goes way beyond the harvesting effort itself.

The report, produced by the state’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development, notes that Bristol Bay’s earnings and harvesting employment have grown the most over the last six years. In 2010, that region’s gross earnings topped $169 million, a 72 percent increase over 2005. Harvesting employment for the same period rose by 381 workers to 7,225.

Though its harvesting workforce is the fourth largest in the state, the Aleutians and Pribilof Islands region was the leader in gross earnings at almost $500 million in 2010- nearly double that of the second highest earning region, Southcentral Alaska. Despite the high gross earnings for the area, the number of fish harvesters has declined over the last six years, the report said. From 2005, there was an estimated loss of 158 permit holders and 110 crewmembers.

Southeast Alaska had the largest workforce of fish harvesters in 2010, but its gross earnings ranked third behind Southcentral. Harvesting employment grew by 146 workers, to reach a total of 9,182, and Southeast Alaska had a record year for gross earnings of $208 million, $49 million more than in 2005.

In the Yukon Delta region, the number of active permit holders has slowly decreased since 2005, while the number of crew has grown, resulting in higher overall employment. From 2005 to 2010, gross earnings for that region rose 37 percent to $4.9 million.

More details on the economic contributions of Alaska’s commercial fisheries are at