National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



Top 5 Mixed Catch Stories

Looks like Alaska can lay claim to being the nation's No. 1 fishing state for 2007.

So states a story in the Juneau-based Capital City Weekly, citing a state Department of Labor report. Overall, the state's 5.3 billion pounds of seafood harvested was valued at a record $1.5 billion, according to NMFS data.

That total put them well ahead of the nation's No. 2 fishing state in value, Massachusetts, which NMFS data says recorded a harvest of 308.6 million pounds worth $457.2 million in 2007. Likewise, Alaska's volume of landings was comfortably ahead of Louisiana, which racked up 997.3 million pounds in '07.

According to the report, Alaska's salmon fisheries provided the most jobs. That the state's salmon industry has rebounded so strongly from the woes it experienced in the early part of the decade is worth saluting.

About 10 years ago, the state's wild-caught fisheries were reeling from the onslaught of farmed salmon that flooded global markets. But savvy branding campaigns that touted the quality and flavor of wild-caught salmon plucked from Alaska's pristine waters have helped the industry regain its footing in the world market. Likewise, they've improved handling practices and are delivering a higher quality product that can command higher prices.

The article notes that in 2007, the most recent year complete figures are available, Alaska harvesters landed some 950 million pounds of salmon, the state's third highest total in 27 years. Better still, the salmon were worth nearly $417 million — the highest value seen in eight years.

Whether the global economic malaise will allow Alaska fishermen to continue to enjoy such lofty gains in the year ahead remains to be seen. But fishermen around the country have taken notice of the value of branding initiatives and are finding ways to replicate that success.

Inside the Industry

It’s no secret that fraud is a problem in the seafood industry. Oceana repeatedly touts a mislabeling epidemic. While their method has been criticized, the perception of rampant fraud  has been established.

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The Center for Coastal Studies recently announced that Owen Nichols, Director of the Center for Coastal Studies’ Marine Fisheries Research Program, has been selected as this year’s recipient of the John Annala Fishery Leadership Award by the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. 

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