NMFS recently released its annual report that details the economic impacts of commercial fisheries across the country and Alaska came out on top by producing the greatest volume and value of any other region.

This isn’t a surprise. Alaska regularly sits atop these lists.

Looking through the National Fisherman archives for the latest Fishing Back When section, I found a photo collection from when Alaska’s fisheries were still climbing, not dominating.

In 1965, the 49th state came out on top in dollar earnings for U.S. fishermen with a total of $71.7 million, producing about one-half billion pounds or 10 percent of the national total.

The latest Fisheries Economics of the United States report puts the state’s 2014 catch at 5.7 billion pounds worth more than $1.7 billion. It’s safe to say they’re landing a few more fish than back in the day.

According to the Alaska Journal of Commerce, the nation’s commercial seafood industry produced 1.4 million full- and part-time jobs, $153 billion in sales (including imports), $42 billion in income and $64 billion in value-added impacts in 2014. Domestic harvests produced $54 billion in sales.

Alaska’s seafood industry employs more people than any other private industry in the state. California supported most of the nation’s 1.4 million seafood jobs in 2014 with 143,440. Alaska’s industry supported 60,749 jobs.

The report states that landings revenue was dominated by salmon ($546 million), walleye pollock ($400 million) and crab ($238 million), which together accounted for 69 percent of revenue.

National Fisherman editors marked the occasion with a photo essay with images from around Alaska — from small halibut boats and salmon transfers in Cooks Inlet to monster Dungeness crab catches and the view from a salmon seiner in Tongass Narrows.

A lot has changed in the past 50 years and a lot will change in the next 50, but I bet we’ll still have plenty of images to look back on from Alaska’s fisheries.

Have you listened to this article via the audio player above?

If so, send us your feedback around what we can do to improve this feature or further develop it. If not, check it out and let us know what you think via email or on social media.

Samuel Hill is the former associate editor for National Fisherman. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine where he got his start in journalism at the campus’ newspaper, the Free Press. He has also written for the Bangor Daily News, the Outline, Motherboard and other publications about technology and culture.

Join the Conversation