Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Norton Sound Fisheries Share Wealth

Norton Sound Seafood Products, in Nome, Alaska, paid out more than $4.5 million to 211 resident crab, halibut and salmon harvesters in the 2015 commercial fisheries, plus another $2.1 million to seasonal employees.

NSSP, a subsidiary of the Norton Sound Economic Development Corp., a community development quota entity, said in an announcement on Sept. 30 that this year’s payout to commercial fishermen more than triples the $1.4 million paid to residents in the 2005 fishery.

“After tipping the $4 million mark in NSSP’s payout to commercial fishers last year, it’s great to see continued growth in the regional commercial fisheries,” said Dan Harrelson, NSEDC board chairman. The company provides processing plants, buying stations and tender vessels, but it is the resident harvesters who make the regional fisheries successful, he said.

Norton Sound commercial fishers saw a $3.1 million increase in ex-vessel value in 10 years with the $4.5 million paid in 2015.

In the salmon fishery alone, the total number of participants nearly tripled and the ex-vessel value grew from $296,253 to $1.9 million in the decade.

Total 2015 NSSP harvests included 428,656 pounds of crab valued at $2,353,826, 2,496,834 pounds of salmon valued at $1,927,552, and 52,994 pounds of halibut valued at $230,446.

“We credit much of the growth toward providing increased support and fishing opportunity to Norton Bay communities, Harrelson said. “With buying stations in Golovin, Koyuk, Shaktoolik and Elim and a fleet of tender vessels moving Norton Bay product, more fishers can participate in the Norton Sound commercial fisheries.”

The Norton Sound red king crab fishery nearly tripled in ex-vessel value in the same decade. In 2005, 26 fishers delivered a total harvest of 295,000 pounds with an ex-vessel value of $868,670. This compares to the 2015 Norton Sound red king crab season where 36 fishers delivered a harvest of 428,656 pounds of product with an ex-vessel value of $2.53 million in a record 26-day fishery.

NSSP also credited its seasonal crews for the successful season.

A total of 267 Norton Sound residents worked in the processing plants in Unalakleet, Nome and Savoonga, at community buying stations in Shaktoolik, Golovin, Elim, and Koyuk, and for tender vessel crews. “Without the processing, buying and tendering crews, NSSP would not be what it is today,” said Janis Ivanoff, president and chief operating officer of NSEDC.

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