on Topic for FAQs
and Such Back
What are the current
fish prices? Click here to
go to the Division of Community Advocacy webpage
to find current prices, compliments of the Division of International
What are the
harvest levels of fish in Alaska? Try these:
What does "ex-vessel" price
mean? "Ex-vessel" refers to the price of fish paid
to the harvester by the processor at the first point of sale.
How do I become
a fisherman? As with all employment, the first step is to get
in contact with the fishermen themselves, (and "no" you
don't have to be a man). The best way to do this is to walk down
to a dock and inquire about work. However, there are other steps
that may save you a trip to Alaska. The best way to get started is
to visit the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development
web page where you will find much useful information right at your
fingertips! Click here.
How do I get a
job in a processing facility? While walking the docks is
a good idea when looking for a fishing job, this same approach is
not as convenient
when looking for employment at a processor. The best bet is to visit
Job Center Network page and click on Current Openings to
get a list of available opportunities you can look into.
Where can I get
money for fisheries related projects? There are several sources
of financial help that may be tapped. The Economic
Development Resource Guide is a very helpful tool to search
for funding information. A few loan programs to look into are Alaska
Commercial Fishing and Agriculture Bank,Fisheries
Enhancement Loan Program, and
salmon, halibut, crab or groundfish? A great source for this
information is the Directory
of Alaska Seafood Suppliers from the Alaska Seafood Marketing
Institute Internet site. You
might also review a map of many seafood processors at our
processors of Alaskan seafood are there? There are over
500 processing facilities, including boats, shellfish farms and shoreside
plants, registered with the Department
of Environmental Conservation. View a current map of Alaska shore based seafood porcessors here
What is a primary
processor? A primary processor refers to the processor that engages
in the first production act on the species. The term also refers
to those operations that exist in Alaska. Much of the value added
production occurs once the product has left the state. While a primary
processor may also perform the value-added activity, coastal fish
plants often perform only basic processing.
is a secondary processor? Secondary processors are those that
produce smoked products, salmon patties, salmon poppers and lots
of other neat stuff. Secondary processors are often primary processors,
but they also might be separate entities that strictly buy from
the primary processors.
fishermen process fish? You bet. In fact, it is the fastest
growing segment of the processing sector. The complexity of the
processing depends very much on the fishery. For instance, in the
Bering Sea pollock fishery, factory trawlers process much of the
catch onboard. These huge boats, sometimes upwards of 300 feet
in length, have all the sophisticated processing equipment of their
shoreside brethren. For salmon fisheries, where State law prohibits
the use of vessels longer than 58 feet, processing is often limited
to gutting and freezing.
is a hatchery? A hatchery is a facility where native Alaska
salmon are incubated, nurtured, and then released into the ocean.
Hatcheries provide additional salmon for commercial fishing, subsistence,
and sport fishing.
many hatcheries are there? There are 31 private nonprofit hatcheries
in Alaska in addition to two state hatcheries, three federal or
BIA hatcheries, and several streamside incubation and restoration
operations. The private nonprofit hatcheries contribute to the
commercial fishing industry while the state hatcheries contribute
to sport fishing and the other operations to research, stock enhancement,
and habitat restoration.
much do hatcheries contribute to commercial fishing? Forty
million hatchery raised salmon were caught commercially in 2000.
In numbers of fish, this equated to 34% of the commercial salmon
harvest and 22% of commercial salmon revenues.
are hatcheries? The majority of hatcheries are located along
the coast in Prince William Sound, Cook Inlet and Southeast Alaska.
species are produced by hatcheries? Pink and chum salmon are
the predominant species reared in hatcheries. Coho, sockeye, and
Chinook salmon are also raised to a lesser extent along with several
species of sport fish including steelhead, grayling, rainbow trout,
lake trout, and Arctic char.
How many fish
do hatcheries produce? In 2000, Alaskan hatcheries collected
upwards of 71.7 billion eggs and released 1.4 billion fish.
information on hatcheries, visit the Alaska Department of Fish & Game’s
Enhancement and Hatcheries page.
What is Alaskas
aquatic species import ban about? Does the State of Alaska have
an opinion on genetically modified organisms (GMOs)? Alaska is committed to sustaining its
wild fish stocks. When declining salmon stocks prompted the creation
of hatcheries in the early 1970s to supplement wild stocks, the state
established a genetics policy designed to protect the genetic integrity
of wild salmon. Because salmon return almost exclusively to their
natal streams/lakes to spawn, separate stocks of salmon acquire distinct
set of genes unique to the salmon that breed there. Biologists believe
that each stock of salmon has evolved to deal with its particular
environment and that native salmon are the most fit salmon to breed
in their respective streams, (best able to reproduce). Interbreeding
with salmon from different areas, (that, consequently, have different
genetic make-ups), or with genetically modified organisms, (whose
genes are artificially altered by humans), could have negative effects
on the native salmon by interfering with their genetic fitness and
diversity. Therefore, the state requires that hatcheries raise fish
from Alaskan stocks, generally from the region in which the hatchery
is located. Except in specific cases, no (live) commercial or sport
fish may be imported into Alaska or moved between major regions in
Alaska. This prevents straying fish, (those that enter natural streams
to spawn instead of returning to the hatchery), from ntroducing dramatically
different genes into native populations. Fear of genetically divergent
and genetically modified salmon escaping from fish farm pens contributed
to Alaskas ban on finfish farming. For more information, visit
the Alaska Department of Fish and Games genetics
Product Types Back
What are the various
product types? Given the number of species available for commercial
harvest in Alaska, the product types make a very long list. Also,
who you direct your question to will often lead you down one path
or another. If you ask a primary processor, you are likely to receive
a product list of the species close to their raw (no changes at all)
form. Here are the types of products that are reported to the Alaska
Department of Fish and Game for use on their wholesale report.
link to discussion below
Headed & gutted
Headed & gutted
with pectoral girdle
Salted & split
Headed & gutted
Cheeks or chins
Headed & gutted,
Headed & gutted,
Headed & gutted,
ribs-no skin link to discussion below
skin & ribs
to discussion below
skin or ribs
As you may have noticed
from the list, these aren't necessarily the products you find in the
neighborhood grocery store freezer. Here is a little list of some innovative
fish products you can get these days.
Cod on a stick
Fish on a stick
(salmon, cod, pollock, etc.)
There are also a
variety of products available for pets, including a selection of dog
and cat treats and dog, cat, and fish food.
is roe? Short answer, eggs, (usually of a fish). There are many
species that produce edible roe including salmon, pollock, cod, rockfish,
and sea urchins. Roe is also known as ikura or caviar.
is surimi? Surimi is a fish paste made of white fish; the species
most commonly used in its production are pollock, whiting, and arrowtooth
flounder. The paste is made into foods such as imitation crab, imitation
lobster, and sushi products. Want to buy some? Click here to
find a supplier.
What are blocks? This
is what you get after you skin and de-bone species like pollock, Pacific
cod, yellowfin sole, scallops, and salmon and then freeze them in blocks.
These products are usually shipped to places where a large amount of
food is served.
are fillets? Fillets are strips of fish that are generally boneless
and skinless. They are either added to other foods to make dishes
or cooked and eaten as they are. Excellent pictures of fillets are here.
What does a pin-bone
out machine do? Consumers often avoid fish products that contain
bones. To overcome this nagging problem, machines to remove the primary
component of the fish skeleton, the pinbone, were developed. This
is primarily done with salmon, enabling the industry to package their
top product as boneless fillets.
What does "value
added" mean? "Value added" just means that processors
have, well, processed the fish in such a way that it is more valuable
that it was as a raw product. A headed and gutted salmon is not value
added, but a smoked salmon fillet is.
Agencies and Fisheries Programs Back
herring, salmon, pollock, cod, rockfish, crab or shellfish? There
are three main policy making bodies that regulate the various fisheries
of Alaska. Each organization is comprised of a mix of stakeholders,
including government, industry, commercial fishermen and others,
who provide policy direction. The Board
of Fisheries generates policies for the Department
of Fish and Game. These state agencies regulate salmon,
herring, crab, dive fisheries, and shellfish aquaculture. Essentially,
state management regulates internal waters out to three miles from
the baseline of the breadth of the territorial sea. The North
Pacific Fishery Management Council generates policy regarding
groundfish species, (including Pacific cod, pollock, and sablefish),
for the National
Marine Fisheries Service. The International
Pacific Halibut Council is
the policy maker for halibut with the National Marine Fisheries Service
administering rules and regulations.
Who do I talk
to about seafood permitting in Alaska? There are numerous links
to permits, licenses and forms on the >Alaska
Department of Fish & Game web page.
What is the CDQ
program? While commercial fishing activity is abundant in the
Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands, few local residents have played
an active part in harvesting or processing. The Community Development
Quota (CDQ) program was designed to involve residents with the local
fisheries by reserving fishery quotas for communities along the shoreline
of Western Alaska. Through six regional coalitions known as CDQ groups,
these communities apply for quota. The State of Alaska recommends
the quota allocations and oversees the program on behalf of the North
Pacific Fishery Management Council and the National Marine Fisheries
derived from the CDQ program are used for fisheries infrastructure
development, vessel purchases, vessel loan programs, training, education,
and other important efforts that benefit community members and further
their involvement in fisheries. For more information, visit the Division
of Community and Economic Development CDQ web site.
is the IFQ program and how does it work? The Individual Fishing
Quota (IFQ) program restructured the management of the halibut
and sablefish fishery in 1995. Rather than holding a short fishing
season in which numerous permit holders competed simultaneously
for fish, quota shares were awarded to fishermen with historical
involvement. IFQ owners today can fish anytime within an extended
season, typically from March through December, and may sell or
lease their IFQ to other fishermen. The program decreases the physical
risk to fishermen, increases the value of the fish through better
handling, and provides the market with fresh halibut for most of
the year. One negative effect of the program, however, has been
an out migration of deliveries to those communities that lack consistent,
affordable airfreight deliveries. The ability to target product
to the fresh markets and fetch higher prices results in direct
deliveries to ports with frequent air service or to ports that
have access to the road system.
is AFA? The American Fisheries Act is a congressional law passed
in 1998 that brought several changes to the Alaska pollock industry.
Foremost it was intended to rid America's waters of foreign processors.
The Act also eliminated several pollock vessels from the Bering
Sea and allowed for processing sectors to form cooperatives. These
cooperatives are able to assign harvest quotas to members within
the cooperative based on catch history. As the cooperatives increased
yields and decreased bycatch during pollock fisheries, they also
effectively assign harvesting and processing rights to Alaska's
largest fishery. In 1998, the percentage of total Bering Sea harvest
and value of pollock by vessels that registered a corporate or
owner address in Alaska was 0.34%. By 2000, those numbers rose
slightly to 1.1%. Harvest and earnings for vessels registered with
corporate or owner addresses out of Alaska is upwards of 98%. CDQ
corporations may own more than 10% of the total processing and
harvesting capacity and control another 10% through their CDQ allocation
is aquaculture? Aquaculture, in a nutshell, is aquatic farming.
Different species of fish, shellfish, or aquatic plants are grown
in fresh or salt water, primarily for use as food. In 1989, the
State of Alaska banned finfish farming in an attempt to preserve
the ecological balance and lessen the impact of supply in global
markets. Finfish refer to species like salmon, halibut, black cod,
etc. However, the state does allow shellfish aquaculture, which
includes species like clams, oysters, scallops, and geoducks.
Why did the State
of Alaska ban finfish farms? Finfish farming was banned in Alaskan
waters in 1989. The intent was to preserve wild fish stocks and to
protect the commercial fishing industry. Aquaculture is a positive
growing segment of the world's food production system. However, it
is not without its problems. The farm sites, particularly with salmon,
become highly polluted with large amounts of fish bred and raised
in relatively small areas. Because of overcrowding, diseases are
easily contracted and rapidly spread, including to wild salmon swimming
nearby. In addition, some farmed fish manage to escape into the wild.
Some have theorized that the voracious, fast growing farmed salmon
may prove to be the dominant species in a habitat and out compete
wild salmon to the point of extinction. This concern is amplified
under the premise that farmed fish were not selected for breeding
purposes, which, in the long run, could lead to eventual extinction
of the supplanted farmed fish. These environmental issues run counter
to Alaska's Constitution which requires sustainable management of
all Alaska's fish and wildlife. There are very important user groups,
subsistence and sportfish, that also rely on the wild stocks. Anything
that puts those stocks in jeopardy must be carefully scrutinized.
While it appeared
more important in the 1980s than it does today, the finfish ban was
also intended to protect the vitality of the commercial salmon industry.
With huge supplies of farmed salmon hitting world markets, the effect
of the protectionism is minimal. Alaska's salmon industry is facing
a changing world and will need to change to remain competitive.
What does Alaska
think about its fish and wildlife resources? Alaska is the only
state in the nation with a constitutional mandate that requires sustainability
of its fish and wildlife resources. However, with the abundance of
fisheries resources, often involving disparate user groups, it is
not surprising that controversies over resource management have been
among the most bitter in Alaska's history. The courts have been called
on frequently to decide the meaning of constitutional language in
the context of these disputes. Under Article 8 of the State of Alaska
Constitution, it reads:
8.4 - Sustained Yield.
wildlife, grasslands, and all other replenishable resources belonging
to the State shall be utilized, developed, and maintained on
the sustained yield principle, subject to preferences among beneficial
What is the Marine
Stewardship Council certificate? Those fisheries that are concerned
with overfishing and want to prevent environmental problems so that
the fishing industry continues to thrive can apply for certification
of sustainability from the Marine Stewardship Council. If they follow
all guidelines and score well when assessed against the MSC Principles
and Criteria, they are rewarded with certification. This comes with
rights to a product label, which may be recognized by environmentally
concerned consumers not wishing to contribute to the overfishing
problem. For more information, visit the Marine
of Fishing Boats Back
What are purse
seiners? Purse seine vessels use nets to capture schools of fish.
After locating a promising school, the net is released into the water
and pulled in a circle around the fish. The bottom is then drawn
closed, the fish trapped, and the catch pulled on deck and into the
fishing hole for storage until delivery to a tender.
What are trawlers/otter
trawlers/beam trawlers? Trawl vessels pull conical nets through
the water, either along the ocean floor or at various points through
the water column, catching fish as the boats move slowly through
the water. Beam trawlers have a horizontal wooden or metal beam that
helps hold the net open; otter trawls have special boards on either
side of the net for the same purpose.
What are longliners? Longliners
catch bottomfish by placing a line along the ocean floor with multiple
baited hooks attached. Each end is anchored and the anchors are connected
with lines to buoys on the surface.
What are hand
trollers, power gurdy trollers, and dinglebar trollers? Trolling
vessels move slowly while dragging lines with leaders and baited
hooks through the water. On hand troll vessels, lines are hauled
in by hand; on power gurdy troll vessels, lines are brought aboard
using a power gurdy. Dinglebar trollers have weights attached to
the end of their lines from which the leaders with baited hooks are
attached. They are allowed to target groundfish and halibut while
other trollers may take these species only incidentally.
What are set and
drift nets? Set and drift nets are both gillnets, meaning that
fish put their heads into the net as they swim, entangling their
gills when they struggle to escape backwards. Drift net vessels place
their nets in the open water where salmon are likely to travel. Set
nets, on the other hand, are usually attached to the shore on at
least one end.
What is the herring
sac roe fishery? Herring are targeted mostly for their roe; in
the sac roe fishery, herring are caught in gill net or purse seines
and their eggs removed.
is the roe on kelp fishery/what does "pound" roe on kelp
mean? Herring spawn near the shore in shallow water, often
on the blades of kelp, (seaweed). Roe on kelp harvesters sometimes
pick the roe laden kelp after mature herring have spawned and departed.
In the pound fishery, harvesters capture live herring and hold
them in nets with kelp until they spawn. The herring are then released
and the roe-covered kelp harvested. This second method is known
as the spawn, (roe), on kelp pound fishery to distinguish
it from fisheries where harvesters simply collect roe-covered kelp
where herring spawn naturally.
is a fish trap? A fish trap is an anchored or floating apparatus
that funnels swimming fish along a meshed corridor leading to (an)
enclosed reservoir(s). Fish traps were banned in Alaska in 1959
during Statehood due to sustainability concerns and the need for
small boat fishermen to maintain an economic base. Though illegal
in the state for more than forty years, the use of fish traps remains
is a tender? A tender is a large vessel that can best be thought
of as a seafood taxi. Harvesting activity often occurs in fishing
grounds far away from plants located onshore or offshore. Fishing
vessels frequently operate during short windows of time and cannot
afford to make the trip. To bridge the distance, processors often
hire tender vessels to transport the seafood from the grounds to
the processing plant.
more detailed information on trollers, purse seiners, and gillnetters,
visit the Alaska
Seafood Marketing Institute’s site.
For more detailed information
on trollers, purse seiners, gillnetters, crabbers, trawlers, and longliners,
Department of Fish & Game’s
What Kind of Fishing Boat is That? publication.
For more information on Alaska’s
fisheries, please browse through the rest of our site and visit the
of other relevant organizations.