February 24, 2011 / 3:44 PM / 8 years ago

Alaska harvests most U.S. commercial seafood

Deck hand Mac Cox works to haul a load of fish into the fish hold of the commercial salmon seining vessel F/V Renaissance in the waters off the island of Kodiak, Alaska August 3, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters Life!) - If it were a separate nation, Alaska would rank as the 14th biggest seafood producer in the world, according to a new study.

The report by a fishing organization in the state said Alaska accounted for over 52 percent of the commercial seafood harvest in the U.S. in 2009, producing harvests that totaled over $3.3 billion in wholesale value that year.

The study, written by a consulting firm and commissioned by the Juneau-based Marine Conservation Alliance, also showed exports of Alaska seafood totaled $1.6 billion in 2009, and Japan was the leading export market, followed by China, South Korea, Germany, the Netherlands and Canada, according to the study.

The seafood industry continues to be Alaska’s largest private-sector employer, with an estimated total workforce of 70,548, which is larger than the combined total employed by the oil and gas industry and the mining industry, according to the study.

Major fishing ports are concentrated in coastal regions of southwestern Alaska, meaning that the industry has an out-sized impact in that region, the study said.

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