Small Alaskan town Unalaska is home to the port of Dutch Harbor, which is an integral area for the state’s salmon fishing season. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA), Dutch Harbor has ranked as one of the top ports in regard to volume of seafood for 22 years in a row. The port usually brings in hundreds of millions of dollars and this can be seen in their 2018 data where it was recorded the port generated roughly $182 million that year.

Unfortunately, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the city of Unalaska and Dutch Harbor port were at a standstill. When the virus began to infect people, the town only had one clinic capable of conducting COVID-19 testing. Because of Alaska’s severe weather, testing turnaround could take up to 10 days. All the while, the local fishermen were basically working on top of each other with little to no social distancing rules to protect them.

The virus’s impact made a significant effect on the port’s harvest in 2020. It was recorded by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game that only 118.3 million fish were caught, which was 14.4 fewer than what was anticipated.

Thankfully, Unalaska’s fishing community may finally be saved thanks to a compact nasal swab test created by a company called Cue Health. The test is FDA-authorized and uses a battery-operated cartridge reader. It can formulate results in just 20 minutes and those results are then sent to an app the user must download on their smartphone. Since the test has come to Alaska, the state has been able to conduct an average of about 10,000 Cue Health tests per month in addition to rapid molecular systems that were deployed statewide.

Looking ahead, it seems the Cue Health test will be an integral part of a successful salmon fishing season this year for the Dutch Harbor port. The Alaska Department of Fishing and Game expect 190 million fish this season compared to 2020 118.3 million.

Although the upcoming season is exciting now there’s proper testing, it’s important to remember how dangerous commercial fishing can be. Commercial fisherman face dangerous and deadly conditions while on the job. These dangers could cause fishermen to experience serious life-changing accidents that could impact their ability to work. If you or someone you know has been injured in a fishing accident, call BOATLAW, LLP at 1-800-262-8529. Our maritime lawyers have decades of collective experience that we can utilize for your case.