Salmon harvesting jobs lost in 2018 fisheries

A new report on seafood jobs in Alaska notes that fishery harvest employment declined by 4.9 percent in 2018, erasing most of the gains seen a year earlier.

That total decline of about 407 average annual jobs brought the state’s overall employment in harvesting down to 7,924 posts, wrote state labor economist Joshua Warren in the November edition of Alaska Economic Trends, a publication of the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Salmon fisheries statewide lost 7.2 percent, or 328 jobs, over a year earlier, the major exception being Bristol Bay, where employment approached a decade high of 1,148, Warren said. Groundfish harvesting employment, which spiked a year earlier, dropped back to its previous level of about 1,195. Despite the 9.1 percent, or 120 job drop in groundfish jobs, 2018 total employment for that sector remained high relative to past years.

Halibut harvesting posts were similar, with employment up in 2017 and down in 2018, Warren wrote. After gaining 298 jobs in 2017, the halibut fishery lost 38 jobs in 2018, settling at 1,068, still remaining above its recent typical levels, which had not topped 1,000 in nearly a decade.

The herring fishery saw a 7.1 percent, or loss of six jobs, but that fishery is so small at 79 annual jobs that it’s prone to large percent swings, he said.

Job growth was noted in three fisheries.

Annual crab harvesting employment rose by 5.0 percent or 19 jobs to a total of 403. The sablefish, or black cod fishery experienced job growth of 8.2 percent, or 54 jobs, reaching 713. Other shellfish fisheries had a banner year, with jobs harvesting miscellaneous shellfish up by 7.0 percent, or 14 jobs, pushing yearly employment to 213, the report said.

The Aleutians and Pribilof Islands took the biggest hit, with harvesting employment down by 30.9 percent, dropping total yearly employment to 1,199 jobs due to less fishing.

At Kodiak, employment in harvesting saw a decline of 14.5 percent to 623 yearly jobs.