Large numbers of salmon are caught with seines in southeastern Alaska, central Alaska and western Alaska up to the tip of the Alaska Peninsula. No purse seining is allowed east of the Alaska Peninsula on the north side. Purse seiners are generally larger than gillnetters, but by Alaska law may be no longer than 58 feet. Those fishing in southeast Alaska are larger vessels capable of operating in the sometimes stormy fjords and channels found in that part of the state.
A purse seine is a net which is set in a circle and can be drawn closed at the bottom. Because salmon migrate in tight schools, it is not unusual for an Alaskan seiner to “wrap up” 250 to 1500 fish or more with one set. In addition, the salmon’s tendency to jump and “fin” on the surface gives away the school’s location as it moves through the water. When not actually engaged in setting or retrieving the net, every person on a purse seiner is watching the water for a sign of fish.