June 30, 2020
Update on the Port's COVID-19 response
Every old-timer in Seattle probably has a fishing story to tell from the good old days. But the days of fishermen bringing their catch home and putting their money into the local economy aren’t just a quaint tale from the past — they’re a thriving part of our present and future. For more than 100 years commercial fishing has been a cornerstone of the regional economy and the Port of Seattle has played — and continues to play —a critical role in supporting the industry at facilities like Fishermen’s Terminal, the Maritime Industrial Center, and Terminal 91.
Here are a few fast facts about fishing that aren’t just fish tales.
With the vitality of the North Pacific Fishing Fleet, the economies of Washington and Alaska are interdependent.
Of the 300 commercial fishing vessels that used Port of Seattle facilities in 2017, 226 of these vessels actively fished in Alaskan waters to catch Pollock, Alaskan king crab, groundfish, salmon, and other seafood. Port of Seattle moorage customers harvested 1.3 metric tons of seafood in the North Pacific Fisheries, with equivalent gross earnings of between $259.1 million and $455 million, adjusted for inflation.
Fishermen’s Terminal became the first operational Port of Seattle property in 1914. The Port recognized the importance of building a facility that would provide a spot for commercial fishermen to moor, repair, and provision their boats in the off season. Until then, there had not been a home port for fishermen who were forced to search for moorage wherever they could find it.
In 1919, a marine way was installed at Fishermen’s Terminal. A marine way is like a train track that runs from below the waterline onto land. A boat can be floated into a cradle on the rail tracks and pulled onshore with a winch for hull repairs and maintenance.
Fast forward to 2019 and commercial fishing is a thriving, technology-driven, modern business that literally feeds the regional economy. And as a historic building and still the epicenter of the region’s fishing industry, it’s time for several facility updates that will improve long-term financial stability by developing new light industrial space and creating new jobs.
Fishing vessels that moored at Port of Seattle facilities operating in the Alaskan fisheries generated gross earnings of more $455 million in 2017. Maritime support services like vessel maintenance and repair, processing, and cold storage located on Port properties also generate additional revenues. Factoring in all segments of commercial fishing at the Port of Seattle, these activities generated more than $671.2 million in business output in 2017.
That means that trained and skilled workforce in commercial fishing and related industries are needed now as the “silver tsunami” of workers begins to retire.
In 2017, commercial fishing activities on Port of Seattle properties generated 7,200 jobs with a payroll of $313.4 million.
One of the Port of Seattle’s top priorities is training maritime workers of the future. In April 2019, the Port established the Workforce Development Special Committee, chaired by Commissioners Stephanie Bowman and Ryan Calkins. The committee will review the Port’s Century Agenda strategy around workforce development, and update the Port’s workforce development policy and the five-year strategic plan. The committee will also provide recommendations for the development of a feasibility study around a maritime high school and related business plan.
June 30, 2020
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