Fisheries

fishing boat A gillnet salmon boat fishing in Southeast Alaska.

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. For nearly two decades, the port of Unalaska-Dutch Harbor has led the nation in the highest volume of fish landed, boasting 753 million pounds delivered in 2013.

The wild salmon fisheries in Alaska range from Ketchikan in the south to Kotzebue, north of the Arctic Circle. More than 12,000 limited-entry permit holders use drift or set gillnets, purse seines, or troll gear to harvest five species of salmon. 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 in Alaska 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. Currently, the average rural subsistence harvest of fish and wildlife is about 354 pounds of food per person per year. That is more than the U.S. average of 255 pounds of domestic meat, fish, and poultry consumed per year. About 4% of fish harvested in Alaska is used for subsistence purposes.

Sport fishing in Alaska is also important occurring in both saltwater and freshwater regions. An estimated 500,000 resident and non-resident recreational harvesters accrue over 2.5 million angler days annually, supporting over 15,000 related jobs in many coastal and interior communities.

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.

How-tos

Fishing industry overviews

Field guides

Related sites of interest

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