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Increased Fishing Industry Jobs and Seafood Catch in 2011

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 10.1 billion pounds of seafood were caught nationwide by U.S. commercial fishers in 2011, valued at $1.9 billion, with Alaska catching 5.4 billion pounds of that. NOAA further reports that this is a 23% increase in volume and 17% rise in value over 2010.

Another source notes that Alaska catches about 55% of the seafood in U.S. waters, and that about 80% of that is done by roughly 700 Seattle-based fishing boats. The fishing industry has been a large part of the Pacific Northwest economy for generations; our region depends to no small degree on fishing industry work and revenues. One of the perks of living in this area is the wealth of fresh seafood year around, and, as the demand for seafood here and around the world grows, so do fishing industry work opportunities.

The growth is positive economically, but brings concern over depleting our resources and implementing sustainable fishing practices. In order to ensure seafood harvest sustainability and for the purpose marketing to savvy consumers, having an independent third party entity certify that a fishery is operating in a sustainable manner is becoming more and more popular. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is a well-known such entity which operates globally, including in Alaskan fisheries. However, earlier this year, eight Alaskan fisheries announced they would change from MSC to Global Trust Certification Ltd. for their independent third-party certifications. Currently, Global Trust certifies the halibut, salmon (king, sockeye, coho, pink, and chum), black cod, pollock, and crab (king and snow) in Alaska, with MSC certifying the Pacific cod.

Of course, maintaining seaworthy vessels with appropriate safety gear and well-trained masters and crewmembers is also crucial. There is still much work to be done to reduce the high injury and fatality rates among those who are working hard to catch and process increasing amounts of our seafood.

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Stacey & Jacobsen, PLLC
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Seattle, WA 98199

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