Alaska seafood is the No. 1 brand featured on all US menus. But the majority of it is exported around the world, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). That’s what makes Catch 49 unique. Originally called “Catch of the Season,” this community supported fishery program provides Alaskans with wild seafood harvested by Alaska’s small-boat fishermen. Catch 49 is one of many initiatives run by the Alaska Marine Conservation Council (AMCC), who is committed to supporting local, Alaska resident fishermen and processors, and facilitating access to local, sustainable seafood to fellow Alaskans who share AMCC’s vision for maintaining a healthy marine ecosystem. The Catch 49 program is currently offering Bristol Bay sockeye salmon. Catch 49 allows customers in the state to order a share of the season’s harvest from small-boat Alaska fishermen ahead of time. Customers then can pick up their orders at a designated site in Anchorage, Fairbanks or Homer, about two weeks after the ordering period closes. “Although the program is quite consumer focused, we have had a high level of interest from foodservice operators in Alaska,” says Cassandra Squibb, who is helping to market Catch 49 products. “Not only does each offering come with information about the fishery, but we also can provide the name of the captain, the vessel, and exactly where the fish was caught.” Go to www.catch49.org to order 10, 20 or 45 lb shares of high quality, flash frozen Bristol Bay sockeye fillets.
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council met in Kodiak June 4-11. Council meetings in fishing communities provide valuable engagement opportunities for both community residents and Council members. Representatives from Alaska Marine Conservation Council attended all meetings, and have developed discussion highlights:
Upon review of a discussion paper examining federal groundfish effort and observer coverage in areas associated with longstanding Tanner crab abundance on the east side of Kodiak Island, the Council voted to take no further action at this time. The areas identified remain a high priority to Kodiak Tanner crab fishermen to better understand the contribution to the Tanner crab stocks in critical crab habitat. Kodiak fishermen were interested in pursuing increased observer coverage in these areas. In 2010 the Council voted to require 100% observer coverage on non-pelagic trawl vessels and 30% observer coverage on pot cod vessels in order to fish in identified statistical areas until the restructured observer program was implemented.
The new observer coverage went into effect in 2013, prior to implementing increased coverage, and thus the increased coverage action was never implemented. Improvements to the observer program have been identified as a high priority and an action to focus coverage in particular areas at this time may hinder a more inclusive approach.
The Council established an ad hoc Community Engagement Committee and will solicit nominations for this committee. The Council adopted a charter that aims to increase participation in the Council process by tribes and rural communities.
The membership of the committee will benefit from rural and tribal representatives and people with necessary expertise in the Council process to accomplish the committee’s goals. The community engagement committee will not replace the Council’s existing community outreach efforts which have very instrumental in the decision-making process but will seek measures to improve communication and understanding between rural communities, tribes and the Council.
Social Science Planning Team
The newly formed Social Science Planning Team (SSPT) met for its first meeting May 8 and 9 and began with reiterating the mission of the group, which is to improve the quality and application of social science data that informs management decision-making and program evaluation. The SSPT will identify data needs, make recommendations regarding research priorities, and advise analysts in efforts to improve analytical frameworks when possible. The SSPT will support the collection and aggregation of social science data in a manner that cuts across Fishery Management Plans and specific management programs within the North Pacific region.
During its two full days of meeting, the SSPT discussed numerous topics including subsistence data, use of existing data in policy analysis, economic data collection of North Pacific fisheries, incorporating qualitative information, moving toward co-production of knowledge and expanding stakeholder engagement. In addition to the current membership of the SSPT the Council recommended that membership expand to include a seat or two to include individuals with expertise in local and traditional knowledge. A call for nominations will be initiated with the intent of further appointments made in October.
During the final day of the meeting in Kodiak the Council responded to public comments in regards to the access challenges into the IFQ halibut/sablefish program and requested that staff develop a discussion to review existing programs that facilitate access opportunities for rural communities and new entrants within limited access fisheries.
The Council requested that the discussion paper include an evaluation of Norway’s Recruitment Quota as a program example along with other global initiatives to provide access that were highlighted in a presentation on the Turning the Tide report earlier in the meeting. The report addresses the growing problem of fisheries’ access in Alaska and provides potential solutions to barriers to entry. The Council requested that the discussion paper consider the efficacy of these programs, including successes and failures in providing fisheries access, the potential functionality of programs within the North Pacific management framework and how these programs may comply with standards under the Magnuson- Stevens Act.
The Council heard from a number of young Kodiak fishermen who own boats, hire crew, seek additional employment to make ends meet, but don’t see a path into the IFQ fishery due primarily to the high cost and risk associated with financing quota.
We’re pleased to welcome Jason Dinneen as AMCC’s new Executive Director! A lifelong Alaskan, Jason has had the good fortune of working in communities across the state. Jason spent college summers set netting in Cook Inlet, stick picking along the Beaufort Sea coast, and working on the Exxon Valdez oil spill. These early work experiences gave him a great appreciation for Alaska’s oceans and the value they bring to the Alaska culture and economy. With over 20 years of nonprofit leadership experience in Alaska, Jason has directed a variety of organizations including the Alaska Small Business Development Center as well as overseeing the marketing efforts for Allen Marine’s boat building, tourism and retail operations. He is excited about AMCC’s mission and how he can help AMCC thrive in its next chapter!
Modernizing Fisheries Management Should Benefit All Sectors
By Shannon Carroll and Susie Zagorski for Fisherman’s News
For more than forty years, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) has utilized a precautionary science-based approach to fisheries management. This approach has led to some of the most sustainably managed fisheries in the world. A key component to this success has been the use of exempted fishing permits (EFPs), which have incentivized innovation, improved sustainability, and developed lasting partnerships between industry and managers.
It is surprising, then, that some members of Congress are seeking to limit the use of EFPs. As introduced, Senate Bill S. 1520 — the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017 — does just that by making the EFP process so onerous that it is unlikely to be used in any region. In doing so, S. 1520 will inhibit the ability of industry and managers to pilot new and creative improvements to managing fisheries.
Read the full story here.
Local Tanner crab vessels steamed out of Kodiak and Old Harbor on January 18th, with high hopes for a successful crab season. We always leave that way, full of hope. Why else would we keep going out?
The winter Tanner crab fishery is somewhat unique in that it was designed with input from the community-based fleet. Fishermen wanted managers to factor in safety, equity, and conservation into how the fishery operates.
One way managers do this is by using the weather to dictate openings. If the daily weather update for the fishing grounds includes a gale warning, managers delay the fishery for 24 hours. Doing so provides for greater safety and equity in the fishery, as it is dangerous for smaller vessels to travel in rough weather with crab gear on their decks. While it may be an uncomfortable ride for an 80-foot vessel carrying 20 heavy crab pots out to the grounds, it is rarely life threatening. However, for a 42-foot shallow draft seiner, like our boat, it is life threatening and we would have to stay in town. Thus, without the weather stand down, the fishery could be harvested with by a handful of larger boats while the rest of the fleet is tied to the docks. Working together, the fishermen came up with a solution. This year, the season was delayed for three days due to gale winds clocked at up to 106 knots.
The fishery was also designed with input by fishermen to have a minimal impact on Tanner crab stocks. Crab pots can only be hauled from 8:00 in the morning until 6:00 at night, thereby reducing the mortality of discarded crab—those that are undersized or female. Minimizing the number of times a pot is hauled and therefore how often crab are handled reduces stress on the resource. The daylight-only requirement limits the exposure of discarded crab to colder temperatures in the night. Vessels are also limited to 20 pots, depending on the total allowable catch of crab, which serves to both minimize the impact of the gear on the crab and level the playing field. When the allowable harvest goes up, so does the number of pots the fishermen can use. When the total allowable catch is under 2 million pounds, the limit is 20 pots; as that catch rises, the number of pots allowed stair-steps all the way to 60 pots (when the allowable catch is over 5 million pounds. This year the total allowable catch for the Kodiak Island district is 400,000 pounds, and after a four-year closure due to low crab abundance, fishermen are supportive of the limit and just happy to be fishing.
In a town like Kodiak, which is sustained by fishing, there are few opportunities to make a living other than commercial fishing. As community-based fishermen dependent on the health of the fisheries resource to make a living, many fishermen advocate in the fisheries policy arena in support of sustainable fisheries and opportunities for the next generation. We work hard to share both our experience and knowledge of the industry with management bodies like the Alaska Board of Fish and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. Both of these bodies are set up to provide stakeholder input, and policy makers value the contribution of the fishermen to inform decisions. This process, coupled with the influence of strong science, has led to the world-class, sustainable fisheries that are found throughout Alaskan waters. I’m proud to call this state and Kodiak Island my home, and will continue to advocate for policies that sustain the stocks and provide other families the opportunity to make a living from the sea.
AMCC has re-opened the search process for an Executive Director after an initial first round of trying to identify our next leader. Outgoing Executive Director, Kelly Harrell, departed the organization after nearly 7 years at the helm.
AMCC is offering a rare opportunity to lead a thriving nonprofit organization supporting sustainable fisheries, marine conservation, and strong communities. For more than two decades, AMCC has been a respected force in advancing major policies and advocating for marine conservation. The successful candidate for Executive Director (ED) will demonstrate a strong commitment to this vision and have a proven track record as a highly effective and collaborative team leader with demonstrated fundraising skills. Under the direction of a dedicated Board of Directors and working with a highly accomplished staff, the ED will lead the organization into the next chapter of a successful history.
The ED will work with a dynamic board and staff to sustain and increase the capacity of the organization through strategic and annual planning to achieve the organization’s goals. The ED is responsible for all aspects of fundraising, fiscal and operations management, staff development, and program innovation and evaluation. The ED manages an organizational budget of approximately $1 million. The position is based in AMCC’s main office in Anchorage, Alaska. The salary range is $70-80,000, depending on experience.
Applications are being accepted now, and will be considered until the position is filled. Please see http://www.akmarine.org/who-we-are/our-team/jobs-and-internships/ for directions on how to apply and a more detailed description.
An Interim Director has been appointed while our search for a permanent E.D. continues. Our dedicated Board is committed to a successful transition and is working with staff to ensure the organization continues to fire on all cylinders.
It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for – the announcement of the 2017 AMCC Raffle Drawing Winners! Thank you to the hundreds of people who purchased a raffle ticket and supported our cause, your contribution will go a long way in helping us maintain healthy oceans and thriving coastal communities. Now, for the drumroll……If your name is on this list, we will be contacting you with instructions about how to proceed. Congratulations and, again, THANK YOU!
AMCC is excited to announce that the application period for Alaska organizations interested in hosting a fishing fellow in 2018 is now open!
If you are an organization working on marine and fisheries related issues please consider hosting a fishing fellow. The deadline for this application period is January 16, 2018. You can submit your application and short fellowship project description at: akyoungfishermen.org
In early 2018, we will select 3-5 organizations to host fellows in the upcoming year. Once we’ve selected host organizations and projects we will put out the call for applicants interested in serving as fishing fellows. AMCC provides each fellow with a stipend. Host organizations provide mentorship, guidance and hands-on learning and leadership opportunities.
You can find more information on AMCC’s Fishing Fellows Program and answers to FAQs here.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 12, 2017
Young Fishermen’s Bill Introduced in U.S. Senate
Initiative Gains Momentum as Senators Sullivan (AK), Murkowski (AK), Markey (MA) & Cantwell (WA) Champion Effort to Assist Next Generation of Commercial Fishermen
Washington, DC – The Fishing Communities Coalition (FCC) today applauded Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Ed Markey (D-MA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) for cosponsoring the Young Fishermen’s Development Act (S.1323). The bipartisan and bicoastal bill, a top FCC priority, would give fishing communities a needed boost by addressing steep and growing obstacles – including high cost of entry and limited entry-level opportunities – facing the next generation of America’s commercial fishermen.
“The growing bipartisan momentum behind this bill is very encouraging and shows that leaders in both parties understand that fishermen in today’s world need to know a lot more than simply how to fish,” says John Pappalardo, CEO of the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance. “We appreciate Senator Markey’s leadership in getting this program off the ground because it will give the next generation of fishermen training in fisheries management, business planning and market development tools they’ll need to make a good living bringing sustainable seafood to Americans.”
The Senate legislation, which aligns closely with a House version introduced in April by U.S.Reps. Don Young (R-AK) and Seth Moulton (D-MA), would launch the first coordinated, nationwide effort to train, educate and assist the next generation of commercial fishermen, providing grants of up to $200,000 (totaling $2 million annually) through NOAA’s Sea Grant Program.
“As one of those dependent on the long-term success of our working waterfronts, I’m very grateful to Senators Sullivan and Murkowski for supporting legislation that recognizes the challenges today’s fishermen face,” said Hannah Heimbuch, an Alaska commercial fisherman who also works for Alaska Marine Conservation Council. “By supporting independent fishermen with this action, we have an opportunity to bolster American food security and the health of coastal communities.”
The bill is modeled after the USDA’s successful Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, which is credited with preparing hundreds of young farmers and ranchers for rewarding careers in agriculture. Young fishermen representing FCC members from every U.S. coast recently traveled to Washington, DC to urge legislators to support the initiative.
“Fishing employs more Alaskans than any other industry in the state, but high barriers and costs remain for newer generations attempting to fill the ranks of this vital sector of our economy,” said Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK). “This legislation will coalesce regional efforts to lower these barriers through new grants, training opportunities and an apprenticeship program that will help harness the experience of seasoned fishermen. Replenishing the stocks of qualified stewards of our fisheries will help ensure Alaska remains the superpower of seafood.”
“For centuries, fishing has been at the heart of coastal communities in Massachusetts, but it is an increasingly challenging one for new fishermen to join,” said Senator Ed Markey (D-MA). “This legislation will help make sure that our fishing industry continues to attract future generations of fishermen. These training programs will help young men and women be able to push off the dock into new careers and make vital economic contributions to their communities.”
Founded in 1994, Alaska Marine Conservation Council is a community-based, nonprofit organization committed to protecting the long-term health of Alaska’s marine ecosystems and sustaining the working waterfronts of our state’s coastal communities. Our members include fishermen, subsistence harvesters, marine scientists, business owners, conservationists, families, and others who care deeply about Alaska’s oceans.
Erica Madison is a first-generation commercial fisherman, and owner of Madison’s Salmon Co. An Alaska resident for 20 years, Erica spent 10 years working in the marine ecology field before making the switch to commercial fishing several years ago.
Tell us about your connection to the ocean and Alaska’s wild fisheries.
I am a Bristol Bay fisherman. I set-net on the Naknek and Kvichak Rivers. I have a set-net permit and have been connected to this fishery for three years.
I believe in the promotion of healthy sustainable fisheries. I also want to give support to the communities behind those fisheries and that is what the AMCC does. It is a grassroots organization that is not just looking at the fish, they want the fisherman, culture and ocean to be healthy. As a scientist I found that there was too much “species specific” focus. If you want to make something last, you have to take in all of the parts and pieces. If I as a fisherman can be a part of healthy salmon in the future, then I am on board.
What part of AMCC’s work interests you the most?
AMCC has a lot of great work going on this year. With the upcoming season about to be in swing I am the most excited about the Working Waterfronts project, specifically putting in place a connection between local fisherman and their community. I myself am working with a sea-to-table approach by direct marketing my salmon through Madison Salmon Co. I take pride in knowing that my fish are well taken care of and that locals will know exactly where their fish came from.
What do you love most about fishing?
I was drawn to fisheries because of my at-sea work in the marine sciences. I would see fishermen from afar as I was counting birds and staring at fish monitors and I always thought, I want to work for myself with a species I understand from start to finish. Fishing lets you connect not only to the species you’re working on but also the ecosystem it originates from and the community it directly affects.
What’s happening in the small boat commercial fishing industry that is exciting or encouraging?
It is encouraging to see people take ownership of their oceans and rivers again. Closing down mining projects or damn projects that directly affect salmon is a giant triumph for the salmon. If we as as a fleet of small boat commercial fisherman can come together to protect ecosystems, I believe we can have power in other conservation efforts as well.
I find it scary when I reach out to my friends in the lower 48 and they tell me about cheap “natural” salmon they buy at the grocery store. There is not enough education about where our food comes from, and that leaves the consumer without information about what they are getting. The commercialization of farmed fish is not not only a threat because it steals market share, it also poses genetic threat to wild salmon stocks and spreads disease.
What do you love most about living in Alaska, or in your community?
I live in so many different places in Alaska that I sometimes fear I will lose my community or feeling of community, but Alaska’s great because we take in wanderers, seasonals, and newcomers and treat them like family. After my commercial season last year, I met a woman named Kate Taylor who is an accomplished guide in Bristol Bay and runs her own business Frigate Travel. She took me under her wing and taught me how to fly fish. We talked conservation of headwaters and ways to protect the fishery. She even took a day to come out and learn all about commercial fishing and cheer me on in my work. That right there is community.
Where in Alaska would you like to visit or spend more time?
I feel so lucky to have seen Alaska’s waters so thoroughly when I was doing marine research. I also have a passion for traveling over land, and at some point I will make it from Anchorage to Naknek, hopefully on skis. Connecting two places by foot is pretty special.
White House Seeks To Eliminate Critical Program
The White House released its preliminary 2018 budget proposal on March 16. As reported by The Washington Post, the Trump administration is proposing massive cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) budget. Included in those cuts is the complete elimination of the Sea Grant program.
Losing Sea Grant would have profound negative impacts on Alaskans. Alaska Sea Grant represents a unique partnership between NOAA and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. For more than 46 years, the program has supported healthy coastal resources, strong economies, and vibrant communities in Alaska through research, education, and outreach. What does this mean in terms of on-the-ground action? Here are a few examples of Sea Grant’s work in Alaska:
- FishBiz Program: This program provides financial and business tools for fishermen, ensuring those looking to get into, remain, or sell out of a fishery have the tools to do so effectively.
- Training Alaska’s fishing workforce: Sea Grant provides Alaskan fishermen with education and training on essential topics such as vessel safety and maintenance, fuel efficiency, refrigeration, direct marketing, and permitting. It has also hosted the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Summit, which has provided critical training to more than 350 young fishermen.
- Mariculture investment: Sea Grant has invested more than $2.5 million in research and outreach in support of Alaska’s growing mariculture industry.
- Practical Research: Sea Grant leads research that addresses coastal community priorities, including the “Graying of the Fleet” project that is working to identify and find solutions to barriers to entry for the next generation of fishermen.
NOAA’s budget will ultimately be decided by a congressional budget resolution. Congress typically makes changes to the president’s proposal, so now is the time to let your representatives know how important Sea Grant is to Alaskans. Senators Sullivan and Murkowski have gone on record opposing the cuts to NOAA’s budget, but it’s still critical that they hear from you about maintaining federal funding for Sea Grant.
Please call your Congressional representative. Phone calls carry more weight with legislators than emails. Listed below is the contact info for each office, along with talking points to guide your call.
- I’m calling today to let [elected official] know that I oppose the president’s proposed cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), specifically the elimination of the Sea Grant program.
- Sea Grant directly contributes to job creation and economic development, the core functions of the Department of Commerce. In Alaska, Sea Grant offers valuable technical assistance to our seafood industry, which employees 60,000 Americans from across the country.
- Federal funding of Sea Grant goes a long way. Each dollar Sea Grant receives in federal funds is multiplied threefold through strategic partnerships with the University of Alaska and other grant funders.
- I personally value [name Sea Grant program or service that is important to you, such as the Young Fishermen’s Summit, the Graying of the Fleet research project, food preservation workshops, educational materials and trainings, etc.]. Click here for more information about Sea Grant’s workshops, trainings and programs.
- Again, I urge [elected official] to maintain funding for Sea Grant in NOAA’s 2018 budget. Thank you for your time.
Office of Senator Lisa Murkowski
Contact: Ephraim Froehlich
Office of Senator Dan Sullivan
Contact: Erik Elam
Office of Representative Don Young
Contact: Mike DeFilippis
By Shannon Carroll
Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) was recently named chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard for the 115th Congress. The subcommittee, among other things, is responsible for addressing matters that concern federal fisheries; it will be a key player in the ongoing effort to reauthorize the Magnuson Stevens Act (MSA). The Senate has yet to introduce a MSA bill, despite the House passing a bill in 2015, but rumors have been circulating that a draft bill is in the works.
AMCC believes strongly in the MSA. Its record speaks for itself: Since 2000, fishermen and managers have rebuilt more than 40 stocks nationwide, while Alaskan stocks under its jurisdiction have thrived since Congress passed the act. We are therefore hesitant, under the current political climate, to advocate for wholesale changes to the law. In our view, many of the issues facing Alaska and other regions could be addressed through increased funding for key programs such as at-sea monitoring, stock surveys, and enforcement; better use of existing funds; and improved application and enforcement of current laws and regulations.
Should the Senate decide to reauthorize the law, we are excited to have Senator Sullivan carrying on the “Alaska legacy” by taking a leadership position the process. Since Congress enacted the law, Alaska has always played a lead role in shaping our nation’s fisheries. Under Alaskan leadership, each reauthorization has been a bipartisan effort to improve the sustainability of our fisheries through reforms based upon science and stewardship. And, because of the lead role that Alaskans have played in the process, reauthorization always been an opportunity to directly address the issues facing Alaskan fishermen. In short, each reauthorization of the MSA has made fisheries management better for Alaskan fishermen.
To date, Senator Sullivan has proven to be advocate for Alaska’s fishermen, passing legislation that addresses illegal and unreported fishing, while also working to prevent others from undermining the MSA. This track record hopefully indicates the Senator’s willingness to carry the Alaska legacy by putting fish, fishermen, and fishing communities first. To us, that means sensible, smart reforms that will keep this and the next generation of fishermen on the water. These reforms should include improving monitoring and accountability, strengthening community protections, reducing bycatch, and supporting the next generation of fishermen. We look forward to working with Senator Sullivan and the other members of the 115th Congress.
Shannon Carroll is AMCC’s fisheries policy director. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leslie Cornick, Ph.D., led the effort to form AMCC’s Science Advisory Committee, which launches this year. As Dean of Research and Sponsored Programs at Alaska Pacific University, her most recent work includes beluga whale monitoring projects in Knik Arm, Cook Inlet and Bristol Bay. Read on to learn more about Dr. Cornick and the Science Advisory Committee’s exciting work.
What is your background? What drew you to AMCC’s’ work?
I have a BA in Biological Anthropology, MA in Physiology and Behavioral Biology, and PhD in Wildlife Ecology. I’m a physiological ecologist by training, working primarily on the limits to behavioral plasticity in marine mammals and how they adapt to environmental change. I’ve been a supporter of AMCC’s mission for a long time, so when I took a course in nonprofit sustainability and began looking for local organizations to partner with, I found AMCC to be a natural fit.
Why did you decide to spearhead the development of the Science Advisory Committee?
In my early conversations with AMCC staff it became clear that the organization was looking to build scientific capacity to bolster their effectiveness in the policy arena. Yet, without a full-time scientist on their staff, fundamental scientific advising was a gap that they needed to fill. I worked closely with Fisheries Policy Director, Shannon Carroll, and Executive Director, Kelly Harrell, to craft the concept and identify need areas. I also wanted to give back to the AMCC in a meaningful way by helping them to move the committee forward.
How will the Science Advisory Committee support AMCC’s work?
My goal is for the Science Advisory Committee to provide vital input on the current state of the science in key areas so that AMCC can craft policy positions, create programs, and advocate for their constituencies based on the most up to date and best available science.
How does the Science Advisory Committee recruit members? What skills are you looking for?
We are currently recruiting volunteers to serve on the Science Advisory Committee through a variety of networks, including the Marine Section of the Society for Conservation Biology, the Alaska Marine Science Symposium, and the American Fisheries Society. We are looking for early career or established scientists who are currently engaged in research, to synthesize the current state of the science and provide summaries to AMCC staff. If you’re interested in the Science Advisory Committee, have questions, or would like to submit an application, you can find out more here.
By Hannah Heimbuch and Rachel Donkersloot
This has been an exciting year for the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network. We’ve celebrated, made new friends, and are laying big plans for the future. It’s been a busy January so far. Network coordinator Hannah Heimbuch and three other Alaska fishermen recently traveled to Victoria, British Columbia, observing the annual meeting of the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC). Heimbuch, along with Keith Bell and Peter Neaton of Homer, and Carina Nichols of Sitka (who was recently appointed to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council’s Advisory Panel), participate in halibut fisheries that span Alaska’s coastline.
The IPHC process is a robust management collaboration between two countries and multiple gear types, spanning nearly a century. Just as we’ve seen our fleets greying, we’ve seen the same among the leaders and advocates in these important decision-making bodies. As the Network develops, an important part of our mission is giving fishermen an opportunity to experience this and other management and policy processes. Meeting decision makers and mentors in the policy arena, and gaining insight and experience in the process helps expand fishermen engagement and build a new generation of skilled leaders.
Also taking place in Victoria this week was a Young Fishermen’s Gathering geared toward supporting young harvesters in British Columbia, the first of its kind. Our group took some time to participate in this important discussion, an event modeled after Alaska Sea Grant’s robust Young Fishermen’s Summit. This gathering has been an excellent time to learn from those in other sectors, and better understand our shared strengths and challenges as North Pacific fishermen.
In other developments, Network participants around the state are gearing up to support spring workshops and events, including a fishing finance workshop in Sitka, a ComFish panel in Kodiak and a young fishermen’s happy hour in Anchorage. Details for these events are still developing, but we’re excited to see the Network helping to create regional opportunities that support their fishing businesses and communities. On the creative front, the Young Fishermen’s Almanac is underway and in the policy realm, the Young Fishermen’s Development Program continues to gain Congressional support.
In the coming year, the AYFN is going to be growing in some important ways and we’re going to need lots of help and ideas along the way from folks like you. We’re putting together a steering committee and regional AYFN chapters that will help create a vision for the AYFN in the future. If you are a young or a more experienced fishermen that wants to be engaged, please reach out to Hannah Heimbuch.
As part of this growing effort, we are excited to announce the pilot of the Young Fishing Fellows Program! The program will match the goals and needs of young fishermen today with host organizations across coastal Alaska engaged in fishery-related issues and projects. The aim is to provide young Alaskan fishermen with valuable learning, leadership and career-building opportunities through projects focused on fisheries management/policy, seafood business, fisheries and ocean science, marine conservation, or fishing community sustainability issues.
We are currently working with potential host organizations to develop and refine fellowship projects and plan to place 3-5 young fishing fellows in the next year. If you are interested in learning more about the Fishing Fellows program, please contact Rachel Donkersloot.
If you would like to learn more about developing the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network in your community, please contact Hannah Heimbuch to sign up and join the Network’s Facebook group. Stay tuned for more information!
Hannah Heimbuch is AMCC’s Community Fisheries Organizer. Rachel Donkersloot is AMCC’s Working Waterfronts Program Director. Both can be reached via email or by calling 907.277.5357.
Kate Consenstein is an AMCC member and a champion of wild Alaskan seafood. She grew up picking fish at her family set-net site on Kodiak’s west side. Kate is the principal and chief strategist of Rising Tide Communications, an Alaskan communications firm specializing in public relations, strategic communications, and integrated branding. Kate’s work is centered on fishery-related marketing as well as campaigns of all kinds. She lives in Anchorage with her husband and daughter.
My family history, my culture and my livelihood are all connected to Alaska’s wild fisheries. A large part of my job is telling the story of Alaska’s amazing seafood and the individuals, families and communities that are supported by it.
How did you become involved with AMCC?
I learned about AMCC through their early Catch of the Season work in tanner crab, as well as being an excellent collaborator with Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.
What part of AMCC’s work resonates most with you?
Having been raised in a fishing family, I am truly appreciative of AMCC’s efforts to support young fishermen and increase Alaskans’ participation in our commercial fisheries. I wish everyone could grow up with an appreciation for our fisheries and our ocean.
What is your most vivid fishing memory?
I have so many memories of picking fish with my dad, cutting kelp off our lines, listening to the sounds of whales in the distance. It’s hard to pick.
Have you ever participated in Alaska’s commercial fisheries? If so, please tell us a bit about your experience.
I grew up spending summers at our family set net site on the west side of Kodiak, where my dad still fishes every summer. My brother seines in Kodiak on his boat, the F/V Atlas. My uncle owned a beautiful wooden boat, F/V Kilkenny for many years, fishing for scallops, halibut and black cod. He still catches salmon and halibut on his hand troller the F/V Godwit.
What’s happening in the small boat commercial fishing industry that is exciting or encouraging?
I am excited to see so many young people investing in their own boats, especially young women. I didn’t see a lot of women fishing growing up. There’s a lot of positive role models out there now.
Why do you give to AMCC?
I give to AMCC because every dollar they receive contributes to Alaska’s waters, fishermen, fishing communities and the things I love most about Alaska. They have top-notch professional staff that work incredibly hard and it is important to me to support them. I know they make the most of every dollar to support efforts I believe in.
We are proud to announce a new project in the works: The Alaska Young Fishermen’s Almanac! This book-length publication will be developed through the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network, and feature short stories, art, humor, recipes, poetry, gear/boat hacks, how tos, and more, all while reflecting our fishing traditions.
Through this project we aim to better connect young fishermen to each other, and to the skills and stories of their coastal livelihoods. By sharing it within and beyond Alaska’s communities, we hope this unique collection can serve as a cultural touchstone, illustrating Alaska’s fishing way of life to a broad audience. We’ve gathered a dynamic group of young fishermen to lead the development of the almanac, and now we need your help!
We’re seeking contributions from young fishermen representing a variety of fisheries and fishing communities across Alaska. Submissions will be considered through the end of the year. Please participate and help us spread the word!
- Your favorite boat recipe
- A letter to loved ones from the water
- A tribute to your favorite captain or crew member
- A story about your best or hardest day fishing
- Illustrations of different species
- A packing list of essential items
- Advice that you wish you’d known as a greenhorn
- A diagram of a useful knot or gear hack
We welcome your stories, your creative ideas and your voices in this new venture!
Get in touch with questions, ideas or submissions. Email email@example.com or call 907.227.5357.
The Alaska Young Fishermen’s Almanac is a project of Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network and made possible by funding from Alaska Humanities Forum.
Dear AMCC Community,
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council will be holding its next meeting in Kodiak, June 4-11. These annual meetings in rural communities are valuable engagement for both community residents and Council members. There are numerous occasions to engage in the policy arena during the meeting and evening workshops. The following events offer a venue to share our island stories and the value of the fisheries resource to our island communities.
Fishing Families Workshop – Monday, June 4, 5:15-7:15 p.m., Kodiak Convention Center
Hosted by the Alaska Fisheries Science Center. Discussion focusing on interactions of fishing families and changing regulations, environments, and socioeconomic conditions in Alaska’s fisheries and fishing communities.
Informal Charter Meeting – Monday, June 4, 7-9 p.m., Fishermen’s Hall
Hosted by Andy Mezirow of the NPFMC, Kurt Iverson with the Regional National Marine Fisheries Service Recreational Sector, and Tyler Polum ADF&G sport fish area biologist. Status update on charter-related issues in the NPFMC process, expectations for charter halibut harvest over the next few years, process overview for charter halibut recommendations each fall, and discussion on Kodiak Charter operators future engagement. Potential discussion on Halibut Charter annual reporting requirements for CQE’s.
IFQ Outreach Session – Tuesday, June 5, 5-6:30 p.m., Kodiak Convention Center
Hosted by The Council
Public outreach session with open forum for stakeholders to give insight on the present state of the halibut and sablefish IFQ Program and provide direction for future actions that might be considered by the Council and its IFQ Committee. The Council is particularly seeking input on issues related to entry-level opportunities and rural participation in the fishery.
Community Reception – Wednesday, June 6, 6 p.m., Afognak Native Corporation Building on Near Island
Open to the public. Enjoy local seafood and commemorate Chairman Hull’s last meeting on the Council.
The Council meeting begins June 6 and the Council will convene for the entire meeting at the Kodiak Convention Center downtown. The meeting starts at 8 a.m. and runs until 5 p.m. each day.
Council Meeting Agenda Highlights
Turning of the Tide report presentation by Dr. Courtney Carothers and AMCC’s Dr. Rachel Donkersloot – Wednesday, June 6
The report is a review of programs and policies to address access challenges in Alaska fisheries.
Tanner Crab, Gulf of Alaska groundfish effort and observe data – Sunday, June 10
The Council will be reviewing a discussion paper in regards to federal groundfish fishing effort and observer coverage in important Tanner crab habitat areas previously identified by a local knowledge mapping project on the east side of Kodiak Island. A segment of the identified areas was approved for 100 percent observer coverage in 2010 for a period of time before the implementation of the restructured program. The action was never implemented due to timing issues. The Council will consider potential next steps.
Community Engagement – Monday, June 11
The Council will have a discussion considering the formation of a community engagement and outreach committee structured to foster two-way dialog with rural communities and Native communities.
The full agenda can be found here.
It was a busy week at the North Pacific Fishery Management Council’s (Council) April meeting. Here’s a summary of the important items discussed:
- Taking final action on several charter halibut issues
- Advancing an abundance-based management approach for halibut in the Bering Sea
- Initiating a discussion paper to consider allowing the release of small sablefish
- Expanding a discussion paper on targeting halibut and sablefish with pot gear in the Bering Sea
- Voting to postpone indefinitely the proposal to modify Chinook bycatch in the Gulf of Alaska catcher vessel trawl sector
Abundance-Based Management for Halibut Bycatch
For nearly three years, the Council has been working on developing a policy that would manage halibut bycatch in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Island groundfish fisheries. The policy would implement new bycatch caps that are based, in part, on the abundance of the halibut stock, as opposed to using a fixed bycatch cap. AMCC supports this effort because it could improve the conservation and management of the halibut resource while also providing prioritizing access for the directed fishery at times of low abundance.
The Council took a significant step forward at the April meeting, developing draft alternatives based on stakeholder input from the various sectors (i.e., hook and line, trawl, and directed halibut). Acknowledging that these alternatives were only the start of an iterative process, the Council recognized that the industry proposals, as amended by the Council, would serve as a good baseline for analyzing how an abundance-based policy would affect each fishery. Moving forward, the abundance-based management working group will provide a brief update to the Council’s Science and Statistical Committee at the June meeting in Kodiak and bring back a draft environmental impact statement for review in October.
Lastly, in response to directed halibut users’ requests to have the Council develop a mechanism to manage or incentivize a further reduction in legal sized halibut, the Council directed staff to provide a white paper detailing the availability of relevant data from the observer program. This concept offers one of the best linkages between halibut bycatch and directed halibut quotas and we therefore see it as an important concept in helping the Council achieve their stated objective of providing for directed halibut operations in the Bering Sea. This paper will likely be available for review in June or October.
GOA Trawl Chinook PSC Limits
The Council reviewed an action which considered modification of Gulf of Alaska (GOA) Chinook salmon prohibited species catch (PSC) in the GOA non-pollock groundfish and rockfish program catcher vessel trawl fisheries. After careful consideration of new information since establishing Chinook salmon bycatch caps for these trawl fisheries in 2015, a majority of the Council voted in favor of postponing the action indefinitely. The discussion and subsequent analysis was in response to new information provided by expanded observer coverage on under 60-foot trawl catcher vessels in the GOA, as well as ongoing genetic sampling efforts to determine the river of origin for bycaught Chinook salmon. Improved observer data on under 60-foot trawlers revealed bycatch was higher than estimated in the Western Gulf of Alaska and increased genetic sampling suggests 97% of the trawl bycatch in the GOA is from Southeast Alaska, British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest. During the development of original bycatch caps, this information was not available to the Council members and is relevant in determining whether such caps are set at the appropriate levels under National Standard 9 of the Magnuson Stevens Act.
New information in the analysis also highlighted the status of Chinook stocks in Southeast Alaska river systems and the magnitude of the declines of Chinook salmon escapement in a number of rivers. In 2017, there were three new listings of stocks of concern and recent data indicates two more rivers may be listed after 2018, with returns forecasted to be one of the lowest on record. In response to the decline, the Board of Fish voted to impose severe restrictions on salmon fishermen in Southeast. The closures will provide corridors for the Chinook salmon to pass to help address numerous unmet escapement goals. Ocean conditions appear to be the primary source affecting the survivability of young Chinook as they experience high rates of mortality their first few years in the ocean. Nonetheless, genetic studies indicate approximately 15% of the trawl bycatch is bound for Southeast.
While it is not possible to know how many of these fish would survive to spawn, efforts to reduce fishing pressure for all user groups will contribute to rebuilding the stocks. Small numbers of spawners, 200-400 fish, may help with the rebuilding plan and may help begin a recovery process. A letter to the Council from the Board of Fish expressed concern with any action that could result in increased Chinook bycatch and noted that negotiations were underway with the Pacific Salmon Treaty and that “increasing the Chinook salmon PSC limits would severely exacerbate already contentious treaty negotiations.” After reviewing the suite of new information, the Council chose a precautionary approach, consistent with the National Standards, and determined it was not the time to continue a discussion of modifying Chinook limits for the trawl fleet.
An unprecedented recruitment of baby sablefish and concern from Gulf of Alaska fishermen about the impacts of harvesting large amounts of small fish led to the initiation of a discussion paper to consider modifying the requirements to retain small sized sablefish in the IFQ longline and pot fishery. The paper will include a discussion of available data to inform discard mortality rates along with consideration of the trade-offs of a minimum size requirement versus a voluntary careful release.
Also, in the IFQ halibut/sablefish fisheries the Council expanded the discussion to consider the ability to target halibut and sablefish in the Bering Sea with pot gear. The discussion is in response to interactions with whales throughout the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands. Fishermen report increased whale predation and changes in fishing strategies, such as moving to a different location and dropping the gear back down when the whales show up, does not seem to help much. Careful consideration of potential gear conflicts will be a part of the discussion.
Charter Halibut Issues
The Council voted to approve a measure that would require guided and non-guided anglers that are using a sport guide service to remain subject to guided sport fishing limits. Additionally, the Council approved implementation of an annual registration process for transferable and non-transferable charter halibut permits to better understand current use.
Catch49 is for Alaskans, by Alaskans
Unique Alaska CSF is in its fourth year.
Originally published March 21, 2018 on intrafish.com
Alaska seafood is the No. 1 brand featured on all US menus. But not much of it stays inside Alaska, where the majority is exported around the world, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). That’s what makes Catch 49 unique. This community supported fishery (CSF) provides Alaskans with wild seafood harvested by Alaska’s small-boat fishermen. Catch 49 is one of many initiatives run by the Alaska Marine Conservation Council (AMCC). “All profits go towards AMCC’s fisheries conservation efforts, so the program is definitely unique in that sense,” Cassandra Squibb, who is helping market the CSF, told IntraFish. “Second, we are committed to supporting local, Alaska resident fishers and processors, and serving as a conduit in providing local, sustainable seafood to fellow Alaskans who share our values for maintaining a healthy marine ecosystem.” She said the CSF strives to procure seafood species that many Alaskans simply don’t have the opportunity to try, such as Norton Sound red king crab, Kodiak tanner crab and Prince William Sound spot prawns. The CSF allows customers in the state to order a share of the season’s harvest from small-boat Alaska fishermen ahead of time. Customers then can pick up their orders at a designated site in Anchorage, Fairbanks or Homer, about two weeks after the ordering period closes. “Although the program is quite consumer focused, we have had a high level of interest from foodservice operators in Alaska,” she said. “Not only does each offering come with information about the fishery, but we also can provide the name of the captain, the vessel, and exactly where the fish was caught.”
Almanac on sale now!
If you haven’t purchased a copy of the Young Fishermen’s Almanac yet, get one while supplies last! They will be available to purchase in-person at AMCC events and online here.
Upcoming events – join us!
Kodiak Jig Rockfish Taco Night
Wednesday, March 21, 4-6 p.m., Kodiak Island Brewery
Suggested Donation: $5
Join AMCC, the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network and the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute for a taco feed! Meet new faces, see familiar ones, and enjoy beverages and locally caught rockfish tacos!
Stories Above the Bay
Friday, March 23, Noon to 1:30 p.m. at Best Western Kodiak Inn
Entertainment, Alaska-style. We are celebrating the Young Fishermen’s Almanac! Hear personal stories and poetry and enjoy art, all from Alaska fishermen. We will be serving some delicious Kodiak jig-caught rockfish chowder made by Monk’s Rock Coffee House. If you haven’t purchased a copy yet, the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Almanac will be available for sale!
Boat. Work. Break.
Wednesday, April 4, 6-10 p.m., 49th State Brewing Company
You’ve probably been working all spring. Take a night to relax and get to know your fellow Alaska fishermen, policymakers and marine advocates! Hosted by the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network and the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association for a night of stories, poems and film honoring the next generation of fishermen. There will be signups for skippers, policymakers and crew to be members of the apprenticeship program and/or the AYFN. Food will feature 49th State Brewing Co. fish tacos made with Homer longline-caught halibut.
Hiring Local Seafood Sales Coordinator
The Alaska Marine Conservation Council is seeking a fish-loving individual to serve as our Local Seafood Sales Coordinator. This part-time position is responsible for helping to scale up AMCC’s local seafood sales programs and promoting AMCC’s branded seafood hub (Catch 49). This position works closely with an array of fishing and processing partners, chefs, restaurants/breweries, other staff members, as well as marketing contractors.
For more information, please click here.
Latest Catch49 offerings
It’s almost that time of year… spot prawn season! Pre-order your Prince William Sound spot prawns today through Catch 49. Other exciting offerings coming up will be for Kodiak rockfish, Kodiak tanner crab, Norton Sound king crab, and Homer Pacific halibut.
Advocacy trip in Washington, D.C.
AMCC, the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association, and six Alaska fishermen traveled to Washington, D.C., last month to advocate for programs like the Young Fisherman’s Development Act (YFDA). Jamie O’Connor, Danielle Ringer, Christopher Johnson and Matt Alward, along with AMCC staff members Shannon Carroll and Theresa Peterson were in attendance. This federal legislation would support our next generation of fishermen by providing grants to encourage training, education, and workforce development which are absolutely essential to ensure the continued health and prosperity of our fishing families and coastal communities.
We we fortunate to meet with Senator Murkowski, Senator Sullivan, Congressman Young, and 14 different congressional offices and staff from across the country to share our thoughts on the YFDA, as well as the need for science-based management and accountability in all sectors of the fishing industry.
While we were there, we submitted 742 signatures AMCC had collected in support of the Young Fishermen’s Development Act and our MSA platform.
Young Fishing Fellowship update
Check out our current list of fellowship projects here.
Update from Deputy Director Shannon Carroll
If we want to support federal fisheries, we must first look at what the MSA is doing well. Currently, MSA allows regional fishery management councils to have flexibility when it comes to how their fisheries are managed. This means they can effectively use exempted fishing permits and partner with industry to reduce bycatch, habitat impacts, and implement ecosystem-based fishery management or quota banks. The MSA also provides rigorous standards to protect the long-term sustainability of our fisheries through science-based annual catch limits. The results are clear-since 2000, nearly 40 fisheries have been rebuilt across the country!
So, what should Congress prioritize during this round of reauthorization?
1. Consider the strengths of the current law. Regional flexibility has allowed the bill to remain responsive to changes over time. Maintaining science-based provisions of the bill will ensure healthy fisheries into the future and encourage accountability.
Our flight banked beside the National Mall on approach as the sun set orange over Washington D.C. This was my first trip back since I left my job as a Senate staffer eighteen months before. To get my nerves ready to land, I jacked some nostalgic rock into my headphones. Some of the fishermen flying in with me had never made this landing; some, like me, had seen it many times. This time, however, I was a constituent representing my community, an Alaskan, and a fisherman. Much like before, my job on this trip was to connect Alaskans to their representatives in our nation’s capital. But now, I was also here to share my own story.
“My name is Jamie O’Connor and I’m a fifth-generation salmon fisherman from Bristol Bay,” I’d begin. “I was fortunate enough to grow up fishing with my parents and great-grandparents. Which gives me a special, long view on what happens when you manage your resource for sustainable harvest. In Bristol Bay, it’s resulted in the largest, most sustainable salmon fishery in the world.” I’d pause, waiting for that fact to sink in before continuing. “And we maintain those runs through strong, science-based fisheries management. So, I’m here to ask that we maintain that focus in the Capitol, fund the necessary science, and use it to ensure that my great-grandchildren, and the generations that follow them, may benefit from the fishing culture and livelihood that has given me so much. Someday it will be their turn to feed the world.”
I repeated that introduction thirteen times over two days with varying delivery to offices on and off the Hill. So did the eight other fishermen in our group. While each of our stories were a little different, each supported the science-based management policy we’d flown 4,000 miles to discuss and each connected to the staffer or Congress Member sitting across the table in its own way. Sharing your story is sometimes all you can to do to stand up for what you and your industry need, young fishermen. So don’t be afraid to trade out your slickers for a blazer once in a while. This work is equally important and we can’t keep fishing without it.
Jamie is a fifth-generation fisherman from Dillingham, Alaska.
Fishermen, pilots, and a noisy librarian raised her at the family set-net operation on Ekuk beach.
She graduated from the University of Alaska Anchorage with a degree in journalism and public
communication. Then spent a year building Senator Dan Sullivan’s new front office and internship
program, before returning to Bristol Bay with the salmon run. And that’s where you’ll find her, each
summer for the rest of her life.
Fellowship Application Deadline Extended to March 7th and We have added another awesome partner organization.
We have extended our deadline for applications until Wednesday, March 7th! Plus, we’ve added another awesome partner organization. Join Ecotrust for the opportunity to coordinate an Anchorage-based “Know Your Fisherman” fair and support other seafood business/markets activities. This fellowship is focused on strengthening connections between seafood producers and local seafood consumers. For more information, to apply today, and for other fellowship opportunities click here: https://www.akyoungfishermen.org/20182019-fellowship-opportunities