2015 Economic Status of the Groundfish Fisheries Off Alaska
The commercial groundfish fisheries off Alaska had a total catch of 2.2 million tons (t) in 2015 (including catch in federal and state waters) (Fig. 3.1 and Table 1). This amount was approximately equal to the catch in 2014. Groundfish accounted for 80% of Alaska’s 2015 total catch, which was slightly less than typical because of high Pacific salmon catch (Table 1A). Notable increases in catch were observed in the Alaska pollock (particularly in the Gulf of Alaska) and Atka mackerel fisheries, while catch in the flatfish species complex saw a significant decrease in 2015.
The aggregate ex-vessel value of the FMP groundfish fisheries off Alaska was $895 million, which was 52% of the ex-vessel value of all commercial fisheries off Alaska in 2015 (Tables 17 and 19).1 Nominal ex-vessel value of FMP groundfish decreased $39 million in 2015 (Table 19). After adjustment by the Personal Consumption Expenditure Index (PCE), real ex-vessel value decreased $44 million (Table 16). The ex-vessel market of the FMP groundfish fisheries off Alaska remained healthy in 2015 though aggregate economic metrics showed little change from 2014 levels.
Due to an aggregate ex-vessel price decrease of 4.9% to $0.191 per pound of retained catch, aggregate value decreased 4.2% (Tables 2, 6 and 19). Aggregate retained catch increased slightly (0.78%) to 2,126 thousand t, in part, because of decreased discards. The decrease in 2015 ex-vessel prices is related to the corresponding decrease in wholesale prices to which they are linked. Most species did not see dramatic price changes in 2015; the decrease in the aggregate ex-vessel price was the combined effect of marginal decreases in the prices for most of the individual species (complexes) (Table 18). Relatively small decreases in ex-vessel value were observed for nearly all species (complexes) except pollock, which saw a small increase. Because movements in price were generally small, changes in catch were more critical in determining the difference in the way ex-vessel value changed for individual fisheries across regions, sectors, and gear types. FMP groundfish made up a larger share of the ex-vessel value from the fisheries off Alaska than they did in 2014 largely because of the decrease in salmon revenues. Revenues from halibut and shellfish increased (Table 17).