Groundfish harvest boosts seafood employment

Halibut is seen here being processed.

Halibut is seen here being processed.

ANCHORAGE — State labor economists have reported that plentiful groundfish harvests last year contributed to an employment boost in Alaska’s commercial fishing sector.

A new report released by the Alaska Department of Labor shows that the number of commercial fishing jobs in the state increased by 0.7 percent in 2014, while jobs tied exclusively to groundfish jumped nearly 25 percent.

“This has been the best year for groundfish employment since 2000,” economist Joshua Warren told KTUU-TV. Warren is the author of the report on seafood industry employment.

Groundfish, which is often processed into fish sticks, makes up the majority of Alaska’s overall seafood harvest in weight and value. With last year’s increase in the amount of fish caught, groundfish harvests grew from 78 to 84 percent of Alaska’s total harvest poundage, according to the report.

The Alaska Department of Labor also ranked regions in the state based on seafood harvest employment. Southeast Alaska had the highest percentage of industry employment in 2014, and the Aleutian Island and Pribilof Islands earned a second-place ranking.

The Southcentral region, which includes Cook Inlet salmon fisheries, was also shown to have a big impact on the fishing industry.

“Anchorage is home to more skippers than any other community in Alaska with 2,168 permit holders,” the report said.

“Commercial seafood generates more than a billion dollars annually in Southcentral, and that doesn’t include the economic impacts of sport fishing or the role of personal use fishing in filling Alaskan’s freezer,” wrote Labor Department commissioner Heidi Drygas.

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Information from: KTUU-TV, http://www.ktuu.com

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