Alaska Commercial Herring Fishery
Pacific herring were once fished extensively for use as bait, fertilizer, oil, and animal feed. Vast quantities were harvested for nonfood purposes through 1959, when Peruvian anchovies flooded the same markets and the Alaska herring fishery went bust.
The Japanese consider kazunoko, dried and salted herring roe sacs, among the finest of delicacies, and also enjoy eating "roe-on-kelp," dried and salted raw seaweed with dried-on herring eggs. In the early 1970s, when Japanese herring fisheries ran low, Alaska's herring fisheries were "rediscovered." The Japanese market commanded high prices and the boom was on.
Like a number of the other Alaska fisheries, U.S. fisheries managers restricted the number of herring licenses and limited the total allowable catch in Alaska's herring fishery.
The ex-vessel value of Alaska's herring declined significantly from a value of $55.2 million in 1995 to just $9.2 million in 2001. In 2008, however, the values rebounded significantly reflecting a healthier herring harvest worth just over $16 million. This is nearly double the ex-vessel value from 2007, which resulted in only a $9 million Alaska herring harvest.
The herring harvest in 2010 was approximately 18 million tons. Boat operators were paid $550 per ton, which made the season a very lucrative one for skippers and crew members.
For a complete list of herring fishing boats, go to AlaskaJobFinder.com.