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Fishing Stimulates Coastal Economy In Minnesota

25 May 2011

In November, Jim Skurla, the director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the Labovitz School of Business and Economics at the University of Minnesota Duluth, gave the public another reason to feel good about eating Lake Superior fish — it adds significant cash flow to the fragile economies of North Shore communities.

Mr Skurla completed an economic analysis concerning the impact of commercial fishing on Minnesota’s North Shore of Lake Superior.

He reports that harvesting Lake Superior fish and processing fish along the North Shore, directly creates 108 jobs in Minnesota and, after following the money trail of direct, indirect, and induced spending, he reports these enterprises result in economic activity that exceeds $41 million, annually ($1,379,466 harvesting; $40,299,682 processing).

"I was surprised how valuable commercial fishing is to this region," said Mr Skurla. "I also think it is remarkable how many non-fishing jobs are related to commercial fishing."

The jobs Mr Skurla linked to commercial fishing include the obvious, like food services. They also include the less obvious, like engineering services, insurance carriers, and gas station employees. In all, Skurla found the 28 fish harvesting and the 80 fish processing jobs in the region mean that the equivalent of another 96.3 people are employed.

Steve Dahl, a commercial fisherman, approached Sea Grant director, Jeff Gunderson, requesting the economic study. Gunderson contacted Skurla and discussed the nature of the inquiry and its impetus to reinforce the value of commercial fishing to coastal communities and also to add new information to discussions about fisheries management in Lake Superior.

Mr Dahl was pleased with the outcome. "We (commercial fishermen) are not a quaint and dying industry," he said. "The local food movement gets stronger every year — and we are a part of it. Many people are surprised to hear I have a hard time keeping up with my market. It only makes sense — environmentally, socially, economically — to support and maintain a local fishery."

May 2011

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