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Economics & Social Sciences Research

Data Collection Survey to Produce Processor Profiles for Inclusion in Alaska Community Profiles

Workers come from many places inside and outside Alaska to work seasonally in its fish processing facilities. As a result, the population of an Alaska community with a fish processing plant can increase significantly during peak processing seasons. However, very limited information is available in a consolidated location or format about these fish processing facilities.

Our study proposes to obtain basic information such as an estimate of the number of individuals employed at each processing facility during the months of operation, the peak number of workers for processing various species by season, the ethnicity of processing workers, types of lodging and other accommodations and activities available for processing workers, whether or not the company provides meals for the processing workforce in a company galley, the interactions between seasonal processing workers and permanent residents of the community, and the history of the fish processing facility in the community.

Such information is important when attempting to forecast possible social impacts of fishing regulations on communities which have an onshore fish processing facility. This information will be gathered through a voluntary phone survey as well as through site visits to a few selected communities (Cordova, Petersburg, and Kenai, Alaska) pending Office of Management and Budget approval.

The NOAA Technical Memorandum Community Profiles for North Pacific Fisheries—Alaska provides short descriptions of 136 communities in Alaska involved in commercial, recreational, and subsistence fishing. These community profiles have been used in various Social Impact Assessments to inform fisheries management. The profiles currently include limited information on the fish processors present in each community due to lack of availability of this type of data.

A small number of the community profiles include information on the number of processing employees at a certain processing plant only if this information was readily available on the Internet; however, for the most part, the community profiles only include the total number of processing plants in each community and the species they typically process. This limited information doesn't allow for a detailed picture of the social role of fish processors in the profiled communities.

The community profiles will be updated when the new 2010 U.S. Census data is released in 2011. Our survey project will produce "processor profiles," short narrative descriptions of all the onshore fish processing plants in the state of Alaska that will augment and update existing community profiles.

All onshore fish processing plants in Alaska will be recruited to take part in this phone survey. Plant managers will be the primary point of contact. The phone survey will take approximately 10-20 minutes to complete. Onshore fish processing plants in the communities of Cordova, Petersburg, and Kenai, Alaska, will be recruited to take part in the site-visit survey portion of the study. These communities were selected because they have not previously received a site visit and have the largest number of fish processing facilities in their subregions.

The in-person survey will take approximately 40-60 minutes to complete. Participation is voluntary for both the phone and site-visit surveys. However, each plant's participation is highly valued, and the resulting processor profiles will help provide more detailed information on the important social role of processors in communities. Participating plant managers will have the opportunity to review the processor profile and suggest changes.

By Christina Package

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