Fishing industry leaders in Alaska say the industry is in crisis after the worst earthquake and tsunami hit the country this year.
The industry is grappling with a loss of jobs, and many fish- and shellfish-related industries are seeing their revenues plummet as a result.
That means fewer people are going fishing, said David Broussard, president and CEO of the Alaska Fishery Industry Association.
“We’re all trying to figure out what to do.
We’re struggling to get a job,” he said in an interview.
The collapse in the industry has been the biggest economic shock to Alaskans in a generation, BrouSSard said.
“The fishing industry is just devastated, and we’re trying to find ways to save it.”
The industry lost $8.8 billion in 2016 alone, according to the Alaska Office of Economic Development.
Brouissard and other industry leaders say a lack of money for repairs to roads and infrastructure, and the high costs of building new fishing vessels have driven up the cost of catching and selling fish, a business that employs more than 4,000 people in the state.
Alaska has had about 2.3 million people on the job since the early 1990s, when the federal government began protecting salmon and walrus populations.
But in recent years, the state’s population has declined, as sea levels have risen and warmer water has become more accessible.
The Alaska Fisherman’s Association estimates there are now about 700,000 anglers in the region.
It’s also struggling to keep pace with a new wave of immigrants who are bringing their skills with them, Bromsen said.
The recession and rising unemployment has made it difficult for some fishers to find work.
Some have lost their homes and had to take jobs with companies that do not provide unemployment benefits.
Many are also being forced to take out loans to pay for their fishing boats, which is costing the industry hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.
The state Department of Labor is investigating the cause of the downturn, but said in a statement that the state is working with local and federal agencies to restore the fishing industry.
The downturn has been a blow to Alabamians who rely on the industry for jobs, especially in the oil and gas sector.
Alaska, which has more than one-third of the nation’s oil reserves, is home to more than 400 oil and natural gas drilling rigs, according a study by the University of Alaska Anchorage.
Some of the rigs are owned by the state and leased to others.
The drilling industry has struggled in the wake of the earthquakes and tsunamis.
Alaska’s oil and mineral wealth has made the state the most important offshore drilling platform in the world, and more than $2.2 trillion has been invested in the resource in the last two decades.
But drilling and other drilling in the Arctic has been largely abandoned because of a lack for government oversight and safety standards.
The United States is the only country in the Western Hemisphere without a national oil and mine safety agency.
A number of oil and mining companies have been found to be breaking federal regulations and operating without government permits, according, to the Natural Resources Defense Council.
A new wave is expected to follow the quake and tsunami in Alaska.
Alaska officials say they plan to reopen the state fisheries system as soon as possible, but Brouessard and others say the problem is far from solved.
The economic downturn is forcing many people to move offshore, Broome said.