Salmon play integral and diverse roles in Alaska’s economy, society, and cultures.

And yet, human alteration of salmon systems (from habitat modification to exclusionary resource management) threatens the sustainability of these salmon-human systems.

Salmon form the backbone of Alaska’s commercial fishing economy. Salmon are highly valued for resident and tourist anglers, and contribute to local food procurement and recreation for many Alaskan families. The Socioeconomic group looked at economic dimensions of salmon systems and how cultural and economic values of salmon are manifested among different stakeholders (commercial, recreational, subsistence, and personal use).

To better understand the economic benefits of salmon to Alaskans, we compiled relevant data on the consumptive and non-consumptive values of salmon from a vast number of data sets from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission, Alaska Department of Revenue, Alaska Department of Labor, and other institutions.

The ability to synthesize large amounts of information across multiple disciplines allowed us to observe historical economic trends from new and different perspectives.

Goals and Outcomes

  • 1. Identify important trends in the historical relationships between salmon and salmon users which may have been overlooked
  • 2. Inform and support evidence-based policy aimed at sustainable and equitable decision making
  • 3. Compile, archive, and share relevant historical socio-economic data about Alaska’s salmon systems
  • 1. Participation in Alaska’s commercial salmon fisheries is risky business. While salmon fisheries have historically been highly valuable, earnings are subject to variability in salmon returns, market forces, and other factors.
  • 2. Earnings by Alaskans have been more stable than earnings by non-residents. Data collected highlight the value of local knowledge in reducing risk for local fishers.

Flow of Resources Across Alaska

Below are examples of data visualizations generated by the Socioeconomic Working Group.


Alaska Salmon Permit Flows Between Regions of Permit Holder Residence, 2005-2016

For more information and an interactive map, 1975-2015, visit:

How to read the graph:The circle’s segments represent the regions where permit holders reside. Segment size represents the number of permits issued and cancelled by CFEC, transferred to other residents, and migrated (a permit holder moving) to/from/within that region. The number of permits changing owners between regions is represented by the size of the connector and within a region by the width of the parabola. The color of the connector is determined by the region with positive netflow–an overall gain in permits.



Alaska Salmon Harvest Permit Revenue Flows Between Fishing Regions and Regions of Permit Holder Residence, 2005-2015

For more information and an interactive map, 1975-2015 visit:

How to read the graph: The circle’s segments represent regions; segment size is equal to a region’s five-year annual average harvest permit revenue. Each region has its own color, where a parabola would show the amount of revenue generated and retained by the region. Similarly, revenue outflows are shown by connectors to other regions, where the color of the connector represents the region of residence of permit holders residing outside the fishing region. All non-resident revenue is shown in pink.

Lead Researcher

Dr. Tobias Schwoerer

Lead Researcher
University of Alaska Anchorage Institute of Social and Economic Research

Toby has more than 15 years of public-policy experience relevant to Alaska, the Arctic, and other countries. With a diverse background in economics and the natural sciences, he develops innovative techniques for decision-making, and much of his current research focuses on human dimensions of sustainable systems, with the goal of informing policy through applied economic analysis.