Fishermen's News - The Advocate for the Commercial Fisherman

Salmon Hatcheries Affect Alaska


December 1, 2018

A research report produced for eight private, nonprofit hatchery associations concludes that Alaska’s salmon hatcheries generate $600 million in economic output, with impacts throughout the state’s economy.

According to the study released in October by Juneau’s McDowell Group, commercial fishermen harvested an annual average of 222 million pounds of hatchery produced salmon worth $120 million in ex-vessel value during the 2012-2017 study period.

Chum and pink salmon were responsible for 39 and 38 percent of ex-vessel value respectively, followed by sockeye 16 percent; coho 4 percent; and Chinook 2 percent.

Some 57 percent of the hatchery salmon ex-vessel value went to seiners, while gillnetters pulled in 38 percent and trollers 5 percent.

From the regional perspective, Prince William Sound harvests of hatchery salmon generated $69 million in ex-vessel value annually. Southeast harvests brought in $44 million for fishermen followed by Kodiak, $7 million, and Cook Inlet, $500,000 in harvests.

Researchers noted that Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association is currently building up its production of pink salmon and the full impact of these additional investments will not be seen for several more years.

CIAA also maintains several flow control structures and a fish ladder, efforts that lead to additional, though unquantifiable, salmon production, the report said.

Hatchery derived salmon represent 22 percent of total salmon ex-vessel value for 2012-2017, with the percentage ranging from a high of 28 percent in 2013 to a low of 15 percent in 2016. The hatchery contribution of 65 percent was highest in Prince William Sound, following by Southeast, 31 percent; Kodiak, 16 percent; and Cook Inlet, 2 percent, according to researchers.

Some 52 million hatchery produced salmon are harvested on average annually in Alaska’s common property commercial fisheries. They are caught by nearly all commercial harvesters fishing in Southeast Alaska, Prince William Sound, Kodiak and Cook Inlet. Over the study period an annual average of 3,840 permit holders and an estimated 4,860 crew benefitted from hatchery product, with annual catches of more than 538 million pounds worth $322.8 million on average, the report said. Prince William Sound seiners generally source most of their harvest from hatchery fish, while Kodiak set gillnet fishermen have much less of a direct connection to hatchery fish.

For the seafood processing sector, the first wholesale value of products produced with hatchery produced salmon was estimated to average $361 million during the study period.

Hatchery fish also contribute substantially to sport fishing, personal use and subsistence harvests, with an estimated 10,000 hatchery-reared Chinook, 5,000 chum, 100,000 coho, 19,000 pink and 138,000 sockeyes caught annually in sport, personal use and subsistence fisheries in Alaska.

The report also noted that commercial fishermen spend income derived from hatchery salmon harvests in Alaska in support of their fishing operations and in support of their own households. Of the annual average of $120 million worth of hatchery produced salmon from 2012-2017, nearly 60 percent, or $71 million, went to permit holders and crew in the form of labor income, and additional labor income was generated when fishermen purchased supplies, gear, equipment and services locally for their fishing operations. Total commercial fishing related labor income associated with harvests of hatchery produced salmon is estimated at an annual average of $94.5 million, researchers said.

In addition, vendor spending information provided by hatchery associations indicates that some $22 million is spent in-state annually on a range of goods and services, adding additional jobs and income to the Alaska economy.

In total, commercial fishing, processing, hatchery operations and non-resident sport harvest of hatchery-produced salmon accounted for an average of 4,710 jobs and $218 million in labor income in Alaska, so that the total economic footprint of hatchery salmon is estimated at $600 million annually, the report said.

The eight hatchery associations who contracted for the report are Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association, Armstrong-Keta, Douglas Island Pink and Chum Inc., Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association, Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corp., Valdez Fisheries Development Association Inc., Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association, and Kodiak Regional Aquaculture Association.


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