FishBiz Project

Financial and business tools for Alaska commercial seafood harvesters brought to you by the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program

Step 1: Explore your Options


From Kotzebue in the north to Dixon Entrance in the south, Alaskan waters are home to a wide variety of state and federally managed fisheries. If you are brand new to commercial fishing, you might not be aware of all the fisheries in your immediate vicinity, and few know about all of them around the state.  Browse through the variety of commercial fisheries in Alaska using our online map to get an idea of options available to you.

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Step 2: Determine Your Fishery's Value

Hauling in Alaska king crab pots. Photo credit Alaska Sea Grant.

As you think about buying a boat or permit, it is wise to get a good understanding of the current and historical value of the fishery you are about to enter. The price of the permit is only one indicator of the value of the fishery - many factors influence the cyclical rise or fall in permit values. 

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Step 3: Will It Pencil Out?

Drift Fishing. Photo credit Alaska Sea Grant.

Now that you have a better understanding of income potential and a feel for historical production swings in your chosen fishery, "pencil out" your proposed operating and start up costs against different income projections. Alaska Sea Grant has a spreadsheet that can help. 

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Step 4: Financing

Quinhagak. Photo credit Alaska Sea Grant.

Armed with solid information about the value of the fishery, potential earnings, and realistically estimated fixed and variable costs of your proposed fishing operation, you are ready to look for financing to get this fishing business in the water.

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Step 5: Planning for Success

Troller. Photo credit Alaska Sea Grant.

With your homework done, you're now ready to take the plunge into ownership of a fishing business. This section contains a business planning software program specific to commercial fishing operations that may help you take that big step with more confidence.

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Step 6: Annual Money Matters

Dory. Photo credit Alaska Sea Grant.

Just as your boat requires annual maintenance, so does the financial side of your business. Your long-term business success depends on accurately tracking and managing your profit and losses, beginning from your first season through your last. With experience and focus, you will gain confidence.

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