The Port of Bristol Bay is the second most valuable harbor in the U.S.

Molly Dischner/KDLG

The Port of Bristol Bay in Naknek is the second most valuable port in the U.S. That’s according to an annual study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.

The port’s value increased by $41 million, from $154 to $196 million, in commercial fishery landings between 2017 and 2018. In last year’s report, Naknek ranked third.

Jeremy Kern was the assistant port foreman in 2018 and was promoted to port foreman in 2019. He’s worked in the Naknek harbor for nearly a decade and held other roles as a mechanic and equipment operator. He attributes some of the port’s success to local hires.

“They know the industry,” Kern said. “They’ve grown up around the industry. They know a lot of the fishermen and a lot of the processing people at the different plants.”

He said they also prioritize precise data collection in the port, despite their old school techniques.

“We are still pen and paper, we have a program in Microsoft that we use for specific billing,” Kern said. “But as far as yard stow, its pen and paper.”

This year, Kern hopes to invest in an internal operating system for the upcoming fish season.

“To be able to help us track more accurately where the containers are,” Kern said. “Where they’re at in the yard, what time they come in, what time they go out. It also helps us with our record keeping of where the container is, billing for loading and off-loading storage.”

Borough Manager Gregg Brelsford said Kern has continued the port’s success in the 2019 season.

“This is a very positive reflection on the new port foreman,” Brelsford said. In the year over year comparisons from this year to last year, he raised the port revenue 6.75% and lowered the cost by 15.7%.”

Kern also combatted the effects of low staffing last year by finding ways to boost efficiency. Schedules went from three eight hour shifts, to *two* 12 hour shifts. He said that changing the schedule to make shifts longer ensured that someone was always available at the port.

The Port of Bristol Bay’s quanitative landings put it in eighth place, at 191 million pounds. Dutch Harbor once again remained first in landings at 763 million pounds, but dropped from second to third in value. The harbor in New Bedford, MA was listed as the most valuable port in the nation.

A break down of quantity and value in harbors around the U.S found in the Fisheries of the United States 2018 report. NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ASSOCIATION

Contact the author at tyler@kdlg.org or 907-842-2200