Hagfish Getting Some Alaska Love

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Utter the words “Alaska seafood” and it’s not likely hagfisn will not be one of the first words out of someone’s mouth. Yet as an Anchorage Daily News report suggests, there is a financial gain to be made from these slimy sea creatures and Alaska is trying to take advantage.

First, here’s a little bit about hagfish from the Smithsonian Channel:

The commercial fishing industry in Southeast Alaska is beginning to take notice of the demand for these strange undersea residents and making a business out of hagfish. Here’s the ADN’s Annie Zak: 

This isn’t the first time Alaskans have tried to ignite a hagfish fishery. There was also an effort made in the 1990s, said Andrew Olson, the Southeast Alaska groundfish project leader at Fish and Game. Hagfish fisheries in Korea and Japan collapsed in the 1980s and 90s and then the fishery took off along the West Coast, in waters off Washington, Oregon and California, according to Fish and Game.

“In Southeast (Alaska), it just didn’t work out,” Olson said. …

Korea is the main market for slime eels, Baldwin said. The meat is sold there for food and the skin used for leather. The slime is even used as an egg substitute.

“If you’ve ever seen eel skin products, it’s all hagfish,” Baldwin said. He’s even seen hagfish couches.