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Offices Closed to Public

The Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development offices are closed to the public at this time. We are still open for business and encourage you to contact us via phone or email.

Fisheries and Seafood

Fisherman Direct Marketing

Traditionally, catching and processing have been two separate business sectors. Most small to mid-scale fishing vessels in Alaska are owner operated "wet fish" vessels - that is, they catch fish and deliver raw to a processing facility under entirely separate ownership. This is quite often an entirely satisfactory arrangement. It allows the fisherman to concentrate on catching.

However, the business climate changes rapidly. Some processors are go out of business. Others are put fishermen on limits or shorten the list of fishermen from whom they will buy. On the positive side, improvements in logistics, the emergence of the internet as a selling tool, and generally strong retail-level markets create opportunities for innovative direct marketing. This has prompted many fishermen to examine the potential for direct marketing some or all of their fish catches. This segment of the processing sector carries tremendous energy and innovation. Many of the major American fish processors started out as fishermen and our future industry leaders could well be among the ranks of today's small-scale direct marketers.

One of the benefits of processing and marketing one's own catch is the ability to sell to buyers high in the production chain by bypassing costly middlemen, (processors, wholesalers, etc.). Direct marketers can cater to niche markets with their small-scale operations, high value product and compelling stories. With that said, it is also recognized that avoiding the "middleman" means greater duties and responsibilities.

For more information on direct marketing, a copy of Alaska Fisherman's Direct Marketing Manual is available for download at Sea Grant Alaska.

The Department of Revenue Tax Division issues Fisheries Business Licences and the Department of Fish and Game Division of Commercial Fisheries requires Intent to Operate applications. The application for both the license and the Intent to Operate is here.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation’s “Seafood Processing Application” is available online.

You may also wish to study the recovery and yield rates for the species you’re interested in processing. A copy of Recoveries and Yields from Pacific Fish and Shellfish is available to download at Sea Grant Alaska.