Record coho and chum salmon runs and continued robust markets for red king crab and halibut added up to another record-breaking season for Norton Sound Seafood Products (NSSP) and infused $8.6 million into communities in Alaska’s Norton Sound region.
NSSP, a subsidiary of Norton Sound Economic Development Corp., paid out $6.4 million to 219 salmon, crab and halibut harvesters. Another $2.2 million was disbursed to 254 seasonal workers in processing plants, at buying stations and on tender vessels.
“It proved to be an incredible season,” said NSEDC Board Chairman Dan Harrelson.
The parent company is one of six community development quota groups in Alaska who were established to provide a portion of fishery quotas in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands exclusively for 65 eligible western Alaska villages.
NSSP received a record 3.6 million pounds of salmon from its small boat fishermen that added up to an ex-vessel value of just over $4 million, shattering last year’s harvest record of 2.5 million pounds with an ex-vessel value of nearly $2.8 million. Silvers harvesters delivered 1.8 million pounds with an ex-vessel value of $2.5 million. NSSP also purchased nearly 1.7 million pounds of chum valued at $1.35 million.
Fifty-two crabbers brought in 321,047 pounds of red king crab worth $2,026,026 and halibut deliveries from 15 harvesters totaled 66,471 pounds valued at $387,912.
NSSP manager William “Middy” Johnson credited the record season to the coho and chum harvest. “Crab and halibut quotas were down, and their markets remained steady, but the coho and chum runs were strong.” Johnson said. “Norton Sound salmon fishers set their nets with every opening, so we not only had a record salmon harvest, but individual fishers had record seasons. These men and women have proven that if fishers are given the opportunity, they will work hard, set, pull and deliver.”
Commercial fishermen delivered directly to NSSP processing plants in Unalakleet and Nome, plus buying stations in Shaktoolik, Koyuk, Elim, Golovin and Savoonga.