Alaska News

Why is so much of Alaska's fishing fleet based in Seattle?

It may come as a surprise to people who aren't familiar with Alaska's commercial fishing industry except as it's depicted on television, but a significant portion of the fleet is based in Seattle.

Although one large Alaska company has expressed interest in bringing its fleets home, substantially all of the major fleets that fish the North Pacific around Alaska for pollock and crab travel from the Seattle area to the fishing grounds.

But why is that the case? Tacoma public radio station KPLU-FM lays out a few of the main reasons.

Of course there's the weather, but more significant than that are the facilities, a highly experienced shipbuilding, repair and maintenance workforce, plus "Ballard Hardware," a veritable commercial marine superstore.

For almost 100 years, Seattle has been home to a massive Fishermen's Terminal, a traditional center for the West Coast fishing industry. Aside from convenience of having a place for such concentrated fishing-related industry, there are the Chittenden locks. The locks allow fishing boats to spend down-time in fresh water, which is much easier on hulls than saltwater.

KPLU says the city estimates having so many boats call Seattle home means an extra $5 billion per year to the economy. And city leaders have recently taken steps to make sure they stay.

Read, listen and watch, much, much more, here.

Craig Medred

Craig Medred is a former writer for the Anchorage Daily News, Alaska Dispatch and Alaska Dispatch News. He left the ADN in 2015.