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.
Alaska Sea Grant has created a "Fisheries Map" containing information about 183 state and federal fisheries in Alaska. The list is not exhaustive, but does contain a large percentage of the total state fisheries and the federal IFQ fisheries.
On the map, icons appear in each region of the state depicting one of five categories:
- The orange crab icon includes tanner, king, dungeness and other crab fisheries.
- Clicking the blue finfish logo will generate a list of salmon, herring and freshwater finfish fisheries.
- The brown groundfish icon includes sablefish, rockfish, pollock, Pacific cod, and halibut fisheries.
- The grey scallop icon covers scallops, clams, sea urchins, geoducks, snail, octopi and squid.
- The purple shrimp icon includes the shrimp fisheries.
You can use the drop-down menus at the top of the map to sort your "hits" by species, gear type, region of the state, or "access" and then clicking "go". The access codes are defined as follows:
- LE - required to purchase a state permit (called a "limited entry permit") to participate in the fishery
- IFQ - required to purchase access to the fishery through the federal "individual fishing quota" system
- CS - required to purchase access to the fishery through another "catch share" program
- Lim - fisheries (generally federal fisheries) that have entry limited in some other form
- Open - no state permit is required to participate in the fishery, but registration and associated fees are often required
Costs of these permits or shares vary widely among fisheries. An online search for "Alaska fishing permits" or "Alaska quota share" should yield a list of brokers that post going rates.
Once you click on an icon, a dialog box will appear showing a list of all fisheries that meet the criteria you have selected. Under each fishery is a link to a "fishery management plan" or other management information. Here you can get historical catch information, an annual outlook on the fishery, harvest levels, in-season management strategies (such as gear restrictions, season timing, etc), and escapement or guideline harvest levels. For state fisheries, the page with the management plan will also contain a link to contact information for the ADF&G office responsible for that fishery. Fishery managers are a valuable source of information as you consider a new fishery and as you continue your career.