Study says hatcheries put $600 M into economy

PWS hatchery salmon harvests generate $69 million in ex-vessel value annually

An economic study produced for eight private nonprofit hatchery associations, including Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corp., says these salmon hatcheries pump $600 million into the state’s economy.

On a regional basis, Prince William Sound harvests of hatchery salmon generated $69 million in ex-vessel value annually, according to the McDowell Group report on “economic Impacts of Alaska’s Salmon Hatcheries.”

Other private non-profit hatchery entities receiving the port included the Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association, Armstrong-Keta, Douglas Island Pink and Chum Inc., the Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association, Valdez Fisheries Development Association Inc., Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association and the Kodiak Regional Aquaculture Association.

During the study period, commercial fishermen harvested an annual average of 222 million pounds of hatchery-produced salmon with an ex-vessel value of $120 million.

The catch of hatchery fish earned commercial harvesters $44 million on average, followed by $7 million for Kodiak and $500,000 for Cook Inlet, the report said. On a sector basis, 57 percent of the ex-vessel value of hatchery fish went to seiners, 38 percent to gillnetters and 5 percent to trollers, during the study period of 2012 through 2017.

As a percentage of the statewide harvest value, salmon coming from hatcheries represent 22 percent of the total salmon ex-vessel value over the study period, ranging from a high of 28 percent in 2013 to a low of 15 percent in 2016, the report said. Hatchery contribution to the overall salmon fishery was highest, at 65 percent, in Prince William Sound, followed by 31 percent in Southeast, 16 percent in Kodiak and 2 percent in Cook Inlet.


The first wholesale value of the hatchery produced salmon averaged $361 million annually for 2013-2017.

Hatchery-derived first wholesale value represented 24 percent of total statewide salmon first wholesale value during the study period. By species, the report said, nearly two-thirds of chum, one-third of pink, and nearly two-fifths of coho and king wholesale production value came from hatchery salmon.

Researchers noted that coho, Chinook and sockeye salmon are the most important hatchery produced species for sport, personal use and subsistence fishermen. However, these species are produced in smaller numbers than pink and chum salmon, but are more valuable on a per fish basis. Hatchery salmon accounted for 17 percent of sport coho harvests, 5 percent of sport sockeye harvests and 8 percent of sport king harvests.

The hatcheries account for an annual equivalent of 4,700 jobs and $218 million in total labor income, including all direct, indirect and induced economic impacts.

Prince William Sound hatcheries account for 2,200 jobs, $100 million in labor income, and $315 million in total annual output, again including all direct, indirect and induced effects.

In Southeast Alaska, by comparison, hatcheries account for 2,000 jobs, $90 million in labor income and $237 million in total annual output, including all multiplier effects, McDowell researchers said.

Development of the hatcheries was prompted by historically low salmon abundance in the early 1970s. In 1970 Alaska legislators established the Division of Fisheries Rehabilitation Enhancement and Development within the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Then in 1974 legislators expanded the hatchery program, authorizing private nonprofit corporations to operate salmon hatcheries, to supplement sustainable natural production.

The hatcheries are required to be located away from major natural salmon stocks, to use local sources of broodstock and to mark hatchery fish released so that fishery managers can distinguish wild stocks and manage them conservatively.