Confirming Alaska's role as the nation's top seafood producer, U.S. Senator Mark Begich welcomed news today from the annual Fisheries of the United States publication that reports a record-breaking year for Alaska fishermen.
"Alaska fishermen continued to top the charts by landing over 5.3 billion pounds of seafood in 2012," said Sen. Begich. "That's 55.5 percent of the nation's seafood production and worth $1.7 billion to fishermen. With this year's record harvest of over a billion pounds of salmon, Alaska is bound to be in the lead next year too. These statistics just confirm that Alaska is still a world leader in effective, sustainable fisheries management."
Details of the 2012 fisheries are included in the annual publication Fisheries of the United States 2012, released today by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Service (NOAA). The publication notes that Alaska's production is down slightly from the previous year from 5.35 billion pounds in 2011 to 5.34 billion pounds in 2012. Alaska communities that rank nationally for production include:
Unalaska-Dutch Harbor led the nation with 752 million pounds of seafood and ranked second in the nation in terms of value with production worth $214 million to the fleet, trailing only New Bedford's lucrative scallop fishery. Other Alaska ports on the value charts included Kodiak, the Aleutians, the Alaska Peninsula, Bristol Bay, Naknek, Sitka, Seward and Ketchikan.
"The list of the nation's top ports follows the Alaska coastline, reminding us of the productivity and vitality of the fishing sector in our economy," Sen. Begich said. "Add to that our record of sustainability and quality and it is clear that Alaska fisheries are special, not just in the nation but in the world."
As Chairman of the Senate subcommittee on Oceans and Fisheries, Sen. Begich continues to work to meet the funding needs for successful fisheries management and on other key legislation to address issues facing the industry. Work is underway on reauthorization of the Magnuson Stevens Act, the Alaska-inspired centerpiece of successful fisheries management. Under his leadership the committee is also addressing illegal pirate fisheries on the high seas, visas for seafood processing workers, and ways to improve fisheries observer coverage including electronic monitoring.
In addition, Sen. Begich has led the opposition to genetically-engineered Frankenfish, brought in retailers to underscore the state's record on sustainability, and pushed for the prompt opening of Bering Sea crab fisheries delayed by the unnecessary government shutdown earlier this month.