Where do Alaska fish go? New report tells all
June 1, 2016
This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – Where in the world does all that Alaska fish end up? It’s an easy find – after this –
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Have you ever wondered where all that fish crossing Alaska’s docks ends up around the world?
And that is where it ends up, as the bulk of Alaska seafood is exported to other countries. In fact, seafood is by far Alaska’s largest and most valuable export.
A new user-friendly report profiles the markets for groundfish and crab – which accounted for nearly 80 percent of Alaska’s total seafood volume and 65 percent of the first wholesale value.
It’s telling a story of Alaska fisheries products and where they are going and who are the consumers on the other end and what are the markets and what are the competing species – a lot of other things that unless you’re really involved in the market as a wholesaler or selling stuff that maybe you might not know.
Ben Fissel is a NOAA economist at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center and lead for the Project, a collaboration that included the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission and McDowell Group.
The idea here was to produce a document that tells the story of what happens to the fish once it leaves the primary processing that happens in Alaska. We wanted to tell the story and we also wanted to put numbers behind it.
Here are some numbers through 2014 —
Alaska’s fisheries produce larger harvests than every other U.S. state combined, and 80 percent of the volume comes from high-volume whitefish like pollock, cod, and flounders.
Pollock is Alaska’s most plentiful and valuable species, accounting for 45 percent of total fish volume and 33 percent of the value.
And Alaska fishermen produce 18 percent of the total world cod harvest – which, by the way, goes mostly frozen to China where it is reprocessed and resold around the world.
Pacific Ocean Perch, also bound for Asia, is Alaska’s most abundant rockfish species – there are 70 kinds of rockfish! Alaska produces 65 percent of the world’s sablefish – nearly 80 percent go straight to Japan.
About three-quarters of Alaska’s halibut goes out frozen to U.S. restaurants and grocery stores. Ditto, Alaska king and snow crab.
One of the biggest booms for Alaska groundfish has been oils, nearly all from pollock.
Two years ago, nearly 28,500 tons of fish oil worth $32 million, was produced mostly by Alaska shore side processors — a 271 percent increase in value from 2005.
Prices for Alaska crude grade fish oil rose from an average of $436 per ton in 2004 to $1,130 a ton in 2014.
Fissel says using more of every fish is a trend that will continue.
Whether they are making pet food products or natural food supplements or beauty products out of these various products I think you are going to see processors trying to innovate and try and bring different products to the market and increase the value added.
Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods. Ocean Beauty has contributed over 10 million meals to the U.S. Food Bank network, and is committed to ending hunger in America. www.oceanbeauty.com In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.