Dutch Harbor does it again!

Seven Alaska ports made the top 20 for seafood landings, five for top values.

by | May 12, 2022

Filed Under Catch Updates | Trends

More fished crossed the docks at Dutch than any other US port

The port of Dutch Harbor, Alaska

Dutch Harbor again ranked as the nation’s top port for volume of fishery landings for the 24th consecutive year. More than 800 million pounds crossed the docks there in 2020, of which 92.1% was Alaska pollock (52.2% of the value).

And for the 21st year in a row, New Bedford, MA held claim to the priciest port at $376.6 million, driven by sea scallops which comprised 83.6% of the catch.

Overall, Alaska provided 60% of all U.S. seafood landings and 31% of the value.

Those are a few highlights from the Fisheries of the United States 2020 report released this week  by NOAA Fisheries.  

The report reveals that the challenges faced in 2020 from the Covid pandemic drove down the volumes and values in every U.S. commercial fishery. For example, the Pacific coast, including Alaska, was down 10 percent by volume and 16 percent by value for the calendar year.

Commercial landings (edible and industrial) by U.S. fishermen at ports in the 50 states were 8.4 billion pounds valued at $4.8 billion in 2020—a decrease of 975 million pounds (down 10%)   and a drop of $817 million (down 15%) compared with 2019. Fish accounted for 87% of the total landings, but only 44% of the value.

The 2020 average ex-vessel price paid to fishermen was 56 cents per pound, three cents less than in 2019.

Of note:   Catches of Alaska pollock, Pacific whiting, and other groundfish that are processed at-sea are credited as “landings” to the state nearest the area of capture. “Information is unavailable for landing port or percentage of catch transferred to transport ships for delivery to foreign ports,” the report said.

The at-sea processed fishery products on a live weight basis was 3.1 million pounds in 2020 and made up 37% of the total domestic landings in the 50 U.S. states.

Processing crab at Unisea in Dutch Harbor Credit: Alaska Public Media

Other report highlights:

The species groups with the highest landings value were crabs ($584 million), lobsters ($563 million), scallops ($488 million), salmon ($478 million), and shrimp ($435 million).

Alaska pollock was the leader for value in processed products: $1.9 billion for 1.5 billion pounds. That was followed by shrimp at $1.1 billion for 271 million pounds, tuna at $918 million for 439 million pounds, sockeye salmon at $778 million for 162 million pounds and sea scallops at $743 million for 141 million pounds.

Alaska had 7 ports in the top 20 for volume, including the Aleutian Islands (#2), Kodiak (#3), Naknek (#8), Alaska Peninsula (#13), Cordova (#18) and Bristol Bay (#20).

For value, Naknek ranked at #2, followed by Dutch Harbor (#3), Aleutian Islands (#4), Kodiak (#7), Bristol Bay (#11).

 Once again, most of the seafood enjoyed by Americans was imported –  6.1 billion pounds, valued at $21.4 billion, a 1.4% increase.

The top valued imported items included: shrimp (1.6 billion pounds, up 6.8% from 2019 and valued at $6.4 billion). Shrimp remains the most overall valuable import accounting for 27% percent of the value of total edible imports.

Shrimp imports were followed by salmon fillets and steaks (637.1 million pounds worth $2.8 billion); whole or eviscerated salmon, primarily farmed Atlantic, (267.9 million pounds worth $881 million); whole or eviscerated tuna (185.7 million pounds worth $561 million); and canned tuna (452.2 million pounds, up 27% to $932 million, a 20% increase).

Overall, U.S. exports of edible seafood products in 2020 dropped significantly to 2.4 billion pounds valued at $4.4 billion, down 14.9% and 16.1%, respectively.

The top valued U.S. exports included: whole or eviscerated salmon, primarily sockeye (213 million pounds worth $449.4 million, down 17% and 16% respectively); and whole or eviscerated groundfish (364 million pounds valued at $364.5 million, down 16% and 23% from 2019.)

Americans also ate less seafood in 2020.

U.S. per capita consumption declined to 19 pounds from 19.3 pounds in 2019.  And the estimated percentage of consumption coming from imports is 79%.

The report also includes U.S. recreational fisheries.

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About Laine

Laine Welch has covered the Alaska fish beat for print and radio since 1988. She also has worked “behind the counter” at retail and wholesale seafood companies in Kodiak and on Cape Cod.


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