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Alaska Department of Fish and Game


Commercial Fisheries
Information by Fishery

Fishery Overview

Alaska supports one of the most productive commercial fishing economies in the world. Fishermen typically receive well over $1 billion for their catch; while the value of Alaskan seafood sold at first wholesale easily tops $3 billion. The total economic impact of the seafood industry (direct, indirect, and induced efforts) in Alaska was estimated at 4.6 billion in 2009. Subsistence and personal use fisheries managed by the Division of Commercial Fisheries feed thousands of Alaskans.

Average Commercial Fishing Exvessel Values, by Fishery, 2008-2012

*includes federally managed groundfish


Average Commercial Fishing Harvests, by Fishery, 2008-2012

*includes federally managed groundfish

Commercially important species of seafood from Alaska include five species of salmon, five species of crab, walleye pollock, Pacific halibut, Pacific cod, sablefish, herring, four species of shrimp, several species of flatfish and rockfish, lingcod, geoducks, sea cucumbers, and sea urchins. Sixty-four aquatic farms also produce oysters, littleneck clams, and geoduck clams.

Salmon is the most valuable commercial fishery managed by the State of Alaska. Commercial fisheries for salmon extend from Ketchikan to Kotzebue, as well as deep into the interior of Alaska along the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers. Salmon are harvested using a variety of fishing gear and more Alaskans are employed in harvesting and processing salmon than in any other commercial fishery.

Bristol Bay is the largest sockeye salmon fishery in the world and the most valuable single salmon fishery in Alaska. Pink salmon, the most numerous salmon species harvested in Alaska, often produce statewide harvests of over 100 million fish. Southeast Alaska, Prince William Sound, the Alaska Peninsula, and Kodiak are the major pink salmon producing areas.

Shellfish is the second most valuable fishery managed by the state of Alaska, with the largest shellfish harvests occurring in the Bering Sea. These fisheries are managed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) on a seasonal basis using a total allowable catch. This ensures sustainable wild stocks and harvests under a fishery management plan adopted by the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council (Council) that delegates specific management authorities to the state. Smaller inshore fisheries for shellfish, managed exclusively by the state, also occur.

State-managed Groundfish and herring fisheries add to Alaska’s seafood economy. These fisheries are important because they diversify the products that Alaskan processors can market and lengthen the time fishermen and processing plants operate. The sablefish fishery in particular represents one of the highest valued finfish per pound in southeast Alaska.

For some species, e.g. demersal shelf rockfish, the federal government and ADF&G share jurisdiction in management of fisheries outside state waters. The North Pacific Fisheries Management Council (NPFMC) approves fishery management plans for species listed under the federal management plan, but the ADF&G commissioner is a voting member of the NPFMC, and ADF&G Division of Commercial Fisheries staff attend the NPFMC Plan Team meetings. As a result, the State of Alaska actively contributes to the science and management discussions that influence federal fisheries policy.

Additional Publications


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