Alaska’s oceans play a vital role in the state’s economy, with a history that stretches back to Native Alaskan subsistence harvests of the same salmon, halibut, and cod popular today. By the 1800s, commercial harvests started and cemented seafood’s substantial economic importance for Alaska. Today, the majority of the nation’s wild seafood is caught in Alaska waters.

Numerous species of fish and crab found in Alaska have a high market value, with salmon and pollock being the two largest categories by ex-vessel value – the price fishermen receive when selling their catch from their fishing vessel. The state leads in both the value and gross weight of the landings, with Alaska accounting for 60 percent of the volume of wild seafood landed in the U.S.

There is substantial value-adding in the seafood sector. Seafood processing accounts for the largest manufacturing sector in the state. In addition to directly employing over 17,000 Alaska residents in harvesting, many local governments receive revenues from gross fish taxes, and the sector supports a large number of jobs in processing. The seafood industry ultimately accounts for the largest share of private employment in Alaska after oil and gas at roughly 41,200 jobs, or 20 percent of all employment in 2014. The industry generates nearly $6 billion in annual economic activity in Alaska.