amcc-on-the-road

Fish 2.0 Business Plan Competition Seeks Participants

Date Posted: April 22, 2017       Categories: AMCC Blog       Tags: AMCC on the road, community supported fishery

The Fish 2.0 2017 Competition has launched! This is a unique opportunity for businesses and investors to come together and continue building partnerships and momentum in the sustainable seafood sector.

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AMCC executive director Kelly Harrell pitches the Alaska Community Seafood Hub in 2015.

AMCC was a winner in the 2015 Fish 2.0 international business plan competition for our vision for the Alaska Community Seafood Hub. The competition had an array of positive impacts on our organization and seafood sales program that we are continuing to grow and working to rebrand. Seafood entrepreneurs who are seeking to improve their business model, gain financial support and develop industry connections are encouraged to participate in this year’s competition!

This recent “Story of Impact” reveals how AMCC inspired the Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust to investigate opportunities for a seafood hub through Fish 2.0 in 2015.

The online entry deadline for the 2017 competition is quickly approaching on April 29th. There are six regional tracks in this year’s competition. Alaskan businesses can compete in the West Coast regional track thanks to support from the Rasmuson Foundation. This year’s competition also features a ‘Supply Chain Innovation’ thematic track that community supported fisheries and other values-based seafood businesses should consider.

Are you an Alaska-based company interested in competing in Fish 2.0? You’re invited to contact AMCC’s Executive Director, Kelly Harrell at kelly@akmarine.org about her experience. Full details about the competition can be found here



Winter Reflections: Well-Being and Resource Access

Date Posted: December 22, 2016       Categories: AMCC Blog       Tags: AMCC on the road, Fisheries Access, Graying of the Fleet Research Project, Working Waterfronts

By Rachel Donkersloot

This is a tricky time of year. The calendar says we’ve just barely crossed into winter. Our minds and bodies, immersed in bouts of ice fog and subzero sunshine, know that the season’s astronomical start lags behind its existential arrival. What a rush to remember what winter really (I mean, really) feels like! I was in Naknek in late November for a stint of 35 below with wind chill.

Photo: Rachel Donkersloot

Despite the biting cold and bad roads, we still had more than 20 community members show up to our Graying of the Fleet project meeting to discuss potential solutions to ensuring local fisheries participation in Bristol Bay. (I’m beaming right now, Bristol Bay, I love you).

Two weeks ago in Togiak, at another community meeting, our local host spent her afternoons at 13 below, pulling 35 pike from a frozen lake. Food. Sustenance. Fun. A childhood friend living in southeast has been busy making jam, jars and jars of beautiful jam, into the wee hours of the night. Old man winter can’t stop good living and the work in requires. My fellow Alaskans are riding bikes on frozen beaches, backcountry skiing, baking, napping, you name it. We excel at winter wellness. 

Wellness and well-being are topics I’ve given much thought to this year, particularly the relationship between rural well-being and marine resource access. Well-being can be defined as “a state of being with others and the environment, which arises when human needs are met, when individuals and communities can act meaningfully to pursue their goals, and when individuals and communities enjoy a satisfactory quality of life” (Breslow et al. 2016; Armitage et al. 2012; McGregor 2008).

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Photo: Alaska Seafood

This fall, I helped to organized the Anchorage-based workshop: Long-term challenges to Alaska salmon and salmon dependent communities. Well-being emerged as a salient theme at the workshop with a panel and breakout session dedicated to the subject. Conference proceedings will be available here in early 2017.

The start of 2017 also marks the launch of another project that I am excited to lead with UAF researchers, Courtney Carothers and Jessica Black. Together, we are working with an exceptional team of Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers, practitioners, and knowledge bearers to identify, develop, and refine indicators of well-being in the context of Alaska salmon systems.

Through this work we aim to better understand interdependencies between sociocultural and ecological systems, salmon-human connections and contributions to well-being in Alaska, and relationships between management and well-being. Informed by a diverse range of expertise, our workgroup will identify a conceptual framework for better integrating well-being concepts into the governance of Alaska salmon systems. You can read more about this project here, as well as others funded through the State of Alaska’s Salmon and People project.

See you in the new year. Be well.

Rachel Donkersloot is AMCC’s Working Waterfronts Program Director. She can be reached at 907.277.5357 or via email



AMCC Visits Sitka’s Whalefest to Talk Acidification and Ecosystems

By Hannah Heimbuch

Unless chemistry is your chosen language, ocean acidification can be a little unwieldy.

It is impressively global and microscopic, a chemical shift in seawater driven by diverse factors, including the absorption of as much as half of our atmosphere’s carbon dioxide. Its impacts and implications are not fully understood, and research and technology in this arena are relatively new. After all, it has been 55 million years since Earth experienced a major acidification event, and it’s happening 10 times faster this time around. This shift is even more pronounced in cold northern latitudes, like the waters around Alaska.

In 2015, Alaska Marine Conservation Council and Cook Inletkeeper teamed up to develop a touchscreen ocean acidification kiosk, an educational tool that features video testimonials from fishermen, scientists, and community leaders all speaking about this complex issue. After its launch in Homer, and a long summer season spent in Kodiak, the kiosk made a Gulf of Alaska leap this last month and landed in Sitka. It’s stationed at the harbormaster’s office, slated to stay through the winter.

hannah-and-sophie-2AMCC staffers Hannah and Jonalyn arrived in Sitka in time for Whalefest, where they shared the kiosk with festivalgoers before its harbor-side installation. Ocean acidity is one of countless critical elements that influence a marine habitat. This aspect of the seawater climate impacts critters from pteropods to the very whales being celebrated in Sitka during Whalefest week. Pteropods in particular (an essential food for many birds, fish and marine mammals) are sensitive to changes in acidity. They need calcium-based building blocks to construct their shells, much like crabs, corals, and clams. In seawater with higher acidity, those calcium building blocks start to break down, and there’s less available to those that need them to thrive.

There are still a lot of unknowns surrounding ocean acidification (OA) and how it will affect our marine ecosystem. AMCC is working to connect coastal communities to quality information and opportunities to stay informed. Part of our goal in Sitka is to link people up with the growing Alaska Ocean Acidification Network. Coordinated by the Alaska Ocean Observing System, this new collaboration aims to bring diverse stakeholders together around this complex issue, broadening the understanding of ocean acidification trends in Alaska, and the potential for adaptation and mitigation. Collaborators include scientists, aquaculture and fishing industries, coastal communities, decision makers and the general public.20161107_140653

The Network serves as a connector, communicator and resource on ocean acidification, working to share information and research practices among those studying this evolving issue, and those impacted by it.

As fishermen we know that we are a part of and dependent on a profoundly complex and dynamic natural system. We also know that when that system experiences significant change, we can expect to see that change ripple through the ecological framework of our ocean world. This is the lens through which many fishermen see ocean acidification. This is why we know it’s time to pay close attention to what comes next.

Because of this lens, we have big questions. How will this fundamental change in chemistry affect the local coastline and creatures? Will there be shifts in food web dynamics that alter marine populations and the industries that harvest them? These are detailed issues, but they address the big stuff: food, work, and environment. And we all have a stake in the answers.

hannah-quoteOur ability to continue living an ocean-dependent life relies on our ability to stay connected to the best possible science and dialogue around this and other major changes in the ecosystem.

While in Sitka, AMCC was able to host a roundtable with fishermen and local leaders, discussing ecosystem-based fisheries management and what it currently and could look like to let an ecosystem-wide lens inform our resource management choices.

With an ecosystem-minded approach to studying and managing our natural resources, we take into account the fact that we are dependent on not one solitary element of a natural habitat, but that habitat in its entirety. That includes the marine mammals off our coastline, the salmon charging upstream, the seasonally blooming plankton, and the chemical composition of their ever-shifting environments.

By participating in and creating opportunities for an active dialogue on issues that impact our marine environment, AMCC will continue to be a connector between diverse stakeholders and important resources.

Feeling inspired to take action? Subscribe to the Ocean Acidification Network listserv to receive information about this issue and upcoming opportunities to learn more. And stay tuned in Sitka for more developments around the ocean acidification kiosk this winter, including development of new videos, naming the kiosk, and more.

Congratulations and thank you to the Sitka Sound Science Center and Whalefest Coordinator extraordinaire Mia Kuartei for an excellent job on this year’s festival. And another thank you to Lauren Bell and Dane McFadden for their help coordinating the kiosk’s installation, and building a sturdy stand for it to live on. AMCC can’t wait to head back to Sitka!

Hannah Heimbuch is AMCC’s Homer-based Community Fisheries Organizer. She can be reached at hannah@akmarine.org. 



Field Notes: Elevating Alaska Fisheries Issues in Newfoundland

Date Posted: August 28, 2016       Categories: AMCC Blog       Tags: AMCC on the road, Graying of the Fleet Research Project, Working Waterfronts

By Rachel Donkersloot, Working Waterfronts Program Director

FullSizeRender (5)  It’s a great time of year. Mornings are cool, my newsfeed is filled with photos of buckets of wild blueberries, and recently I got stuck behind my first school bus of the season. We are headed toward fall. Onward. But what a summer! 

Amidst the community festivals that AMCC attends throughout Alaska, I spent a week in St. John’s, Newfoundland where I presented on AMCC’s work at the International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC) Conference. Newfoundland captured a piece of my heart early on in life through books like The Shipping News, Mark Kurlansky’s Cod, and Lament for the Ocean. I presented two papers at the conference based on collaborative work I’m engaged in with Dr. Courtney Carothers of UAF and other members of the Graying of the Fleet project team. One of the big messages I wanted to bring to IMCC from Alaska was the need to understand fisheries as complex socio-ecological systems, and to recognize community dimensions as fundamental to the sustainability of healthy fishery systems.

In our paper on reconstructing stewardship, Courtney and I chaFullSizeRender (6)llenge the underlying assumptions driving fishery privatization processes, especially the validity of the ownership-promotes-stewardship thesis. We argue that the outflow of fishing rights from fishing communities, now a predictable outcome of ITQ management, is antithetical to the goals of resource governance and fishery conservation today. I underestimated the value of presenting our work to a room full conservation scientists, some of whom don’t fully see the ways in which conservation tools are felt onshore.

Newfoundland did not disappoint. I made it to Flatrock via Middle Cove. I hiked parts of the East Coast Trail and drank beer in the fishing village of Quidi Vidi. Every evening I walked along some rocky trail of the coastline from vista to vista, all with fellow Alaskan, Willow Moore, who was there to present on the great work being done by Alaska Longline Fisherman’s Association. I met many men who used to be fishermen. People there still talk about what it was like before the cod crisis. In Alaska, we sometimes refer to fall as the start of ‘meeting season.’ As advocates, researchers, fishing organizations and fishery managers it’s a great time of year to reassess where we’re at and where we strive to be in managing fisheries and maintaining community access. Onward.

 



Homer Halibut Festival Returns Sept. 8-11

Date Posted: August 26, 2016       Categories: AMCC Blog       Tags: AMCC on the road, Calendar/Events, Fisheries Conservation, Homer, Sustain Alaska's Halibut

HHF logoFollowing last year’s successful inaugural event, the AMCC team is looking forward to co-hosting the 2016 Homer Halibut Festival from September 8 – 11 with the Kachemak Bay Wooden Boat Society. We’ve coordinated schedules and teamed up for key events to create four days of marine festival fun! 

Full event details are available at www.homerhalibutfest.org

Here’s a sampling of events throughout the weekend:

Thursday, Sept. 8 at 7 p.m. — Join the Wooden Boat Festival folks at the Salty Dawg for an evening of shanties and stories.

Friday, September 9 at 6 p.m. — Alaska Marine Conservation Council and the Wooden Boat Society join forces for a reception, followed by an informative presentation on halibut ecology by the International Pacific Halibut Commission and a film about the historical wooden halibut schooners of the North Pacific.IMG_0537_zpsu9uz7ctt

Saturday, September 10 at 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. — Join AMCC for a community fish fry at the Wooden Boat Festival grounds. Halibut donated by local fishermen! This event is free.

Saturday September 10 at 7 p.m. — AMCC and Wooden Boat invite you to an evening soiree and fundraising event at Alice’s Champagne Palace. Enjoy our fabulous one-of-a-kind art buoy auction and the foot-stomping tunes of the Rogues and Wenches. $10 cover charge per person.

Sunday, September 11 at 10 a.m. — Cap off the weekend with another Halibut Hustle 5K Fun Run, hosted by the Kachemak Bay Running Club, which starts at Land’s End Resort. Then visit the Wooden Boat Festival grounds for more music from the Rogues and Wenches and a final day of festival fun. To register for the Halibut Hustle, please visit www.kachemakbayrunningclub.org



Celebrate Alaska Wild Salmon Day Aug. 10th

IMG_8421Our team has been living the salmon life and feeling the salmon love this big time summer! Our Bristol Bay sockeye salmon shares offered through our community supported fishery were once again a huge hit. We have been sorting fish and weighing shares and are excited to deliver beautiful fillets from Naknek Family Fisheries to customers next week! Stay tuned for September’s seafood lineup which will include the cadillac of coho salmon from our friends at Taku River Reds along with Kodiak jig-caught rockfish and Norton Sound King Crab.

The AMCC team also traveled to Bristol Bay at the end of July for the community celebration known as Fishitval where we had a table at the bazaar and hosted a fish-themed pub quiz. Thanks to all who came out and supported our work!

Two of our resident staff fishermen recently finished up salmon fishing seasons in Cook Inlet and Prince William Sound. We are so glad to have them back!

In other news, AMCC staff are just wringing out from a rainy but fun Salmonfest 2016 with fish and music lovers in Ninilchik this past weekend. Check out our Facebook photo album and tag yourself if you took a picture in our photo booth. Thank you to everyone who stopped by to chat, take our healthy fisheries pledge, or sign our community buoy!

There’s still more salmon love to be squeezed out of summer! Just earlier this year Governor Bill Walker made it official: Every August 10th will officially be known as Alaska Wild Salmon Day. Events will be held all around the state for the inaugural celebration and the special connection that Alaskans have with our beloved silvery sirens of the sea.

Ways to Celebrate Wild Salmon Day – Wednesday, August 10th!

#1 Anchorage AK Wild Salmon Day Celebration – Cuddy Park from 5:30-8:00 pmAKWSD_fb

The AMCC team is joining forces with The Alaska Center and partners for the AK Wild Salmon Day Celebration at Cuddy Park in Anchorage from 5:30-8:00pm. There will be a free salmon barbecue, rides on the bucking salmon, music, fly-tying and more! Check out the details and RSVP here.

#2 Purchase Alaska Seafood, Salmon Chowder and Salmon Grilling Spices from our Partners!

We’re proud to partner with great local businesses who support AMCC’s work in honor of the inaugural Wild Salmon Day. Check out their special promotions to eat well and contribute to healthy fisheries at the same time!

  • Copper River SeafoodsStarting at midnight tonight through 11:59 pm on August 10th, Copper River Seafoods is offering a 15% discount to customers on Wild Salmon Day, 5% which will go to AMCC in support of our programs. Customers should use promo code WildSalmonDay2016 to receive the 15% off at checkout. Order at www.copperriverseafoods.com
  • Heather’s Choice:Stock up on Heather’s Choice’s Smoked Sockeye Salmon Chowder. Heather’s Choice will be donating all proceeds from their Salmon Chowder sales to Alaska Marine Conservation Council on August 10th in recognition of Wild Salmon Day ~ a day to honor Alaska salmon as the gold standard for seafood. Support AMCC and the conservation of wild fish by making sure you have a few bags of Smoked Sockeye Salmon Chowder tucked away in your backpack for your next adventure! Order at http://www.heatherschoice.com/
  • Summit Spice & TeaVisit Summit Spice & Tea at 3030 Denali Street in Anchorage between 10:00 am and 7:00 pm and buy some of their new Lemon Herb and Spicy Cajun Salmon Dip Mixes, or pick up some Slamm’ Salmon Rub for your next BBQ today! Summit Tea & Spice will donate a portion of their sales to AMCC in support of our programs. You can also place your order online at http://www.summitspiceandtea.com/index.html

#3 Other Wild Salmon Day Events Across the State

Wild Salmon Day events are also being held by Bristol Bay Native Corporation in Anchorage, the Northern Center in Fairbanks, Cook Inletkeeper in Soldotna at the Wednesday Market, United Tribes of Bristol Bay in Dillingham, in Palmer and more! Check out the full lineup of events and other ideas for celebrating at www.aksalmonday.com



Celebrating Local Food Traditions & Small-Scale Fisheries at Slow Fish

Date Posted: March 30, 2016       Categories: AMCC Blog       Tags: AMCC on the road, Working Waterfronts, Young Fishermen's Network

Part 3 blog from the Young Fishermen’s Educational Tour #nextgenfishtour

by David Fleming

David, 29, is a third-generation fisherman who was born and raised in Anchorage. He spends his summers fishing Prince William Sound alongside his father and brothers, who are actively involved in the setnet, drift and seine fisheries.

After more than a week on the road we arrived at our final destination: New Orleans, Louisiana. For most of us, this was our first visit to this historical and magical city nestled in the Deep South. After the fast pace of the East Coast, we were all happy to be in the Big Easy—with warmer temperatures and a more mellow, community-focused vibe—for the final leg of our trip.

We were in New Orleans for Slow Fish 2016, the conference’s first ever gathering in the western hemisphere. Fishermen, scientists, chefs, students, entrepreneurs, and Slow Food advocates gathered in New Orleans to discuss food systems issues and preserving local food cultures and traditions.

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This year marked the first time that Slow Fish was held in North America.

Many of us felt more at home here than anywhere else on the trip. New Orleans life seemed to tie right in with this philosophy of slowing down the pace. We were happy roaming the streets, meeting locals, and comparing notes with fellow conference goers.

The conference started off a little rocky due to a last-minute venue change because of torrential downpours—20 inches forecast!—and flash flooding possible around the city. Nothing like a little fishy weather to get things started. Many great interactive discussions, presentations, and food demonstrations made for a lively three days. Brainstorming with new friends opened opportunities for future collaborative efforts.

Each day brought something new and we were fully engulfed in fisheries talks with our new acquaintances from all over the world. We were inspired to see some familiar Alaskans who traveled for the conference; it was a great reminder of how tight-knit our community is. We also re-connected with some of our New England young fishermen friends that we had met just a few days prior in Boston. They road-tripped down!

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Slow Fish featured an array of regional seafood dishes that our young fishermen enjoyed.

Slow Fish connected us with personal stories and ideas about sustainable fisheries from those involved in our industry. We heard and shared our stories of heartache and pain as well as love for what we do. We were lucky enough to have two of our own young fishermen, Kiril Basargin and Elsa Sebastian, give a personal narrative of their history and strong ties within the fishing industry and their communities in Alaska. Great job Kiril and Elsa!

I had a memorable chat with a gentleman named Jarvis Green. He’s an ex-NFL player from rural Louisiana who returned home after his 10-year career to market local Louisiana shrimp after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. I asked Mr. Green why he returned to the Gulf region. He replied, “You should never forget about where you came from. If everyone cared where we came from, our world and fisheries would be in a lot better shape.”

Although we came from various communities, fisheries, and industries, we all shared a common thread at Slow Fish: the passion, respect, and love for our oceans and everything they produce. It was powerful to be surrounded by others who share our deep concern for healthy oceans and sustainable fisheries.

“Listening to fishermen from the East Coast and Gulf share their stories was an immediate wake up call of how lucky we are to have abundant, sustainably managed fisheries in Alaska,” said Claire Neaton, a young fisherman from Homer. “Our generation needs to step up and ensure the same fishing opportunities and healthy oceans we take for granted off of our coast will be available for our children.”

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This traditional crawfish boil was a crowd favorite.

Slow Fish 2016 ended with a unique Cajun-style barbecue known as a “boucherie” which is a day long festival of eating, drinking, and music in a beautiful outdoor setting. It took place at the picturesque Docville Farm in Violet—about 90 minutes south of New Orleans, along the banks of the Mississippi—which looked like a setting out of a Mark Twain novel. We were delighted to see the presentation and preparation of a beautiful hog slaughtered and served entirely from head-to-tail. We glowed with delight while eating pork stew, Cajun-spiced cracklins, and countless other parts of the pig, in addition to local crawfish, shrimp, and other seafood delicacies.

Darren Platt, a young fisherman from Kodiak, described the experience this way: “New Orleans is filled with special places where good food, drink, and music coalesce. Such as a farmhouse on the banks of the Mississippi, where cracklins and boiled shrimp were washed down with ice cold beer, and fish tales were exchanged almost as lyrics to the live Cajun bluegrass.”

Our time at Slow Fish was a great way to wrap up our tour, and I am thankful to have been a part of this great group of fishermen from around our state that were part of the educational journey. I believe that all of us walked away from this experience as “highliners” due to all of the information and knowledge we were exposed to. I know we will all share with our families and communities the power of fisheries, fishing communities and the fishing industry as a whole.

***

Reach out Hannah to be part of the growing Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network at hannah@akmarine.org. 

Learn more about the Young Fishermen’s Educational Tour and stay tuned to the AMCC website for future blog posts.  

Thanks to sponsors of the Young Fishermen’s Educational Tour: Salmon Sisters, Edible Alaska, United Fishermen of Alaska, BulletProof Nets, United Cook Inlet Drift Association, Marine Fish Conservation Network and many AMCC members!



Young Fishermen Bring Their Unique Perspective to Capitol Hill

Date Posted: March 23, 2016       Categories: AMCC Blog       Tags: AMCC on the road, Federal Fisheries Policy, Working Waterfronts, Young Fishermen's Network

Part 2 Blog from the Young Fishermen’s Educational Tour #nextgenfishtour

by Hannah Heimbuch

Hannah, age 30, is a third-generation fisherman. She lives in Homer and drifts for salmon in Cook Inlet and longlines for halibut in the Gulf of Alaska.

The second stop on the Young Fishermen’s Educational Tour after Boston was in our nation’s Capitol. The goal of the D.C. visit was for young fishermen to learn more about federal fisheries policy, including the Magnuson Stevens Act (our nation’s primary federal fisheries law that is up for reauthorization), and also to gain experience in the politics of how federal law is made and the importance of face time with decision makers and their staff.

While our D.C. visit was a flurry of planned activities and meetings on national fisheries policy, one of the highlights were impromptu intersections and quality time spent with Alaska Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan. During our first day in town we learned Senator Sullivan would be giving a talk on fisheries at the Consortium for Ocean Leadership’s 2016 Public Policy Forum and that Senator Murkowski was giving a floor speech on the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. Our group quickly got in touch with staff at their offices and hatched plans to see both Senators in action in these different arenas.

With Senator Murkowski, we were lucky enough to be able to tag along as she moved to and from a floor speech in the Capitol building, where she addressed the need for substance abuse recovery assistance.

Representatives of the Alaska Young Fishermen's Network take a break from the busy halls of the U.S. Senate with Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

Representatives of the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network take a break from the busy halls of the U.S. Senate with Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

“On the way to the Capitol, she led the lot of us like goslings through the underground halls of the Senate building,” said Marissa Wilson, one of 12 fishermen trying to keep up with the senior Senator as she marched through basement corridors, mentally preparing for her floor speech and asking us about our time in D.C. The group got to ride the Capitol subway with the senator, squish in tight elevators with her, and watched her floor speech from the family gallery in the Capitol.

While the topic of substance abuse was not head on about fisheries, many from the group understood deeply how intertwined the issue was with coastal Alaska and access to economic opportunities such as fishing. Back in her office after the speech, our group had time to chat further with the senator about community health issues and fisheries. “Conversations on the health of our state and its residents went beyond the lip service we had come to expect on the Hill,” Wilson said. “I felt listened to. It was empowering.”

With Senator Sullivan, we were able to greet the new senator before his arrival at the Reserve Officer’s Association building where he gave a brief speech about the importance of cooperation to manage our fisheries and oceans interspersed with details on the size and importance of Alaska’s fisheries. Sullivan is now lining up to play an important leadership role in federal fisheries policy including on reauthorization of the Magnuson Stevens Act. After the speech, he spent a good amount of time with the group outside the building where we talked fish and expressed sentiments about not rolling back provisions in MSA and protecting fishing opportunities for communities and the next generation. The genuine conversations and time spent with both Alaska senators were a special treat for the group. We thank both Senators Sullivan and Murkowski and their offices for making time for us that day!

For some of our group, it was a first-time trip to Washington, while others had been to the Capitol to talk fish with policymakers before. Traveling as the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network, however, was new ground for everyone. It was under the umbrella of this emerging group that we dove into two and a half days in D.C.

Though our young group has more fishing years ahead of them than behind them, we have solid experience with our fishing businesses and the policies that affect them. While not yet veterans to the legislative process, we are highly conversant in the needs, challenges and successes of our fishing communities. Many members of the group noted how important it is as harvesters to be aware of how national policies affect us. In D.C., we gained experience weighing in on policy issues with a strong and united voice.

“After meeting with a group of very receptive advisors to Congress members from Alaska and Washington, it struck me that we were sitting in seats left warm by lobbyists against our precise causes,” noted Darren Platt, a Kodiak-based fisherman.

The young fishermen prepare to hop aboard the U.S Capitol Subway.

The young fishermen prepare to hop aboard the U.S Capitol Subway.

“With goals such as weakening sustainability features of the Magnuson Stevens Act, or bypassing the North Pacific Fishery Management Council through congressional action, there are powerful interests working diligently in the Capitol to undermine the long-term well-being of fishing communities. One can only hope that a group of bright-eyed and passionate young fishermen can form a compelling enough voice to help subvert the influence of these well organized and financially endowed interests.”

Through AMCC’s partnership with other small-boat fishery groups through the Fishing Community Coalition, we were able to observe the complexity of finding common ground among the nation’s diverse fishing interests. We also learned from meetings with policy leaders, congressional staffers, and lobbyists about current issues and how these diverse entities approach policy development.

Fishermen Claire Laukitis (Homer) and [name] (town) chat with Sen. Dan Sullivan (where?).

Claire Laukitis (Homer) and Elsa Sebastian (Sitka) chat with Sen. Dan Sullivan before his talk at the Ocean Leadership Consortium’s Public Policy Forum.

Perhaps most importantly, we tested the waters for our network’s future in this national arena. As an organizer for the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network, the most important takeaway for me from our time in D.C. was developing the expectations and goals for our ongoing efforts. Our ability and willingness to be at the table—ready to build relationships and find solutions amongst a diverse group of people and fisheries—is essential to our future in fish.

David Fleming, a trip participant who fishes in Prince William Sound, reflected on his time in D.C. “This was an eye-opening experience that informed me of the political process of fisheries management at the federal level. I gained insightful knowledge that I will pass along to my family and local fishing community.”

The Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network has a strong future to serve as a unified voice for our industry, and as independent, forward-thinking leaders for sustainable fish and fishing communities. We’ve become fishermen in some of the best-run fisheries in the world, and we have high standards for management, equity and conservation. We are also acutely aware of the significant challenges coastal communities and industry leaders across the nation face as policies and fisheries evolve, ecosystems shift, and major economic drivers challenge the stability of and access to our marine resources.

While the halls of state and federal buildings are full of seafood lobbyists advocating for their own interests, our group is working from a unique vantage point: We are well-informed, invested and conscientious food harvesters with our careers at stake; we are intricately dependent on and connected to this natural resource; and as we make choices to build businesses and raise families in the fishing way of life, we are deeply committed to the long-term health of coastal communities and their fisheries.

In short, we are an essential resource for people trying to make good decisions about fisheries management in Alaska and the U.S. This small group—and our many peers at home—are emerging leaders for the next fishing era, with the potential and perhaps the obligation to be far less enamored of status quo policies, aging fish wars and expectations created by yesterday’s catch. As an emerging network of independent fishermen, we are inspired and motivated by the D.C. visit to plan to build our capacity and take serious steps toward growing the skills, knowledge and relationships needed to be excellent leaders and ambassadors for our fisheries.

Reach out Hannah to be part of the growing Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network at hannah@akmarine.org 

Learn more about the Young Fishermen’s Educational Tour and stay tuned to the AMCC website for future blog posts.  

Thanks to sponsors of the Young Fishermen’s Educational Tour: Salmon Sisters, Edible Alaska, United Fishermen of Alaska, BulletProof Nets, United Cook Inlet Drift Association, Marine Fish Conservation Network and many AMCC members!



Boston Grows Camaraderie, Provides Insight into the Global Seafood Market for Young Fishermen

Date Posted: March 10, 2016       Categories: AMCC Blog       Tags: AMCC on the road, Seafood markets, Working Waterfronts, Young Fishermen's Network

Part 1 Blog from the Young Fishermen’s Educational Tour #nextgenfishtour

by Mili Vukich, Age 24, Naknek (Bristol Bay), Alaska ~ Salmon gillnetter, Bristol Legacy Salmon, LLC

If you were traveling with eleven young fishermen from more than eight different communities of Alaska, and each had diverse backgrounds in fishing and family, what would you expect to get from a trip like this?

From top left: Claire Neaton (Homer), Matt Alward (Homer), Darren Platt (Kodiak), Hannah Heiimbuch (Homer/AMCC), Mili Vukich (Naknek), Kelly Harrell (AMCC). Bottom row: Michael Shangin (Port Heiden), Kiril Basargin (Razdolna/Homer), David Fleming (Anchorage), Elsa Sebastian (Sitka), Marissa Wilson (Cordova/Homer). Not pictured: Carina Nichols (Sitka).

From top left: Claire Neaton (Homer), Matt Alward (Homer), Darren Platt (Kodiak), Hannah Heiimbuch (Homer/AMCC), Mili Vukich (Naknek), Kelly Harrell (AMCC). Bottom row: Michael Shangin (Port Heiden), Kiril Basargin (Razdolna/Homer), David Fleming (Anchorage), Elsa Sebastian (Sitka), Marissa Wilson (Cordova/Homer). Not pictured: Carina Nichols (Sitka).

We’re young, many of us already a generational fisherman, choosing to live just like our mothers and fathers and others choosing the life of their mentors and captains living amongst communities that pull their identities from the sea.  But let’s not lie to ourselves, not all fishermen are equal, and not all involved in the fisheries are faced with the same moral obligations to our interaction with the wild.  For something that is constantly giving, there is plenty to take away, but no resource is infinite.

I came to the conclusion of a definition of “sustainability” that I can agree with: something that takes, but also gives back.  We say sustainable fisheries, sustainable this and that, but are we ourselves “sustainable?”  Alaska Marine Conservation Council, along with the aid of many others, are supporting the next leaders of Alaska fisheries for these very reasons.

Bristol Bay fisherman, Mili Vukich, enjoys some of the marketing materials at the Boston Seafood Show.

Bristol Bay fisherman, Mili Vukich, enjoys some of the marketing materials at the Boston Seafood Show.

Our group came from different regions and fisheries. But with common desires and pursuits as young fishermen, we are giving tone to our voices.  The first stop on our three city trip was the Boston Seafood Expo 2016, where the big boys and girls are making mass commerce with all forms of seafood.  Our regional processors were present with their showcases of salmon, halibut, cod, pollock, crab, and any other wild Alaskan sea creature you could think of.

While speaking with Julianne Curry, a prominent industry member from Petersburg who is on the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute salmon committee, she said something that was pretty spot on with the impressions that the Expo left with us. She said, “Boston is a big eye-opener that it isn’t about us, it’s about how they present our fish.”  And that can’t be more true.

Walking past one of the Alaska fish processor booths one of our group members was appalled by how Alaska wild salmon was showcased in comparison to the farmed Atlantic salmon.  Within the same booth too!  She expressed how she took such good care of her fish and how she was outraged about the crusty, headless, old, dry frozen salmon being presented in the wild case with it’s neighbor farmed salmon looking moist, perfectly filleted, and presented with pride.

Fishermen from across Alaska on the Young Fishermen's Education Tour visit the ASMI booth at at the Boston Seafood Show.

Fishermen from across Alaska on the Young Fishermen’s Educational Tour visit the ASMI booth at at the Boston Seafood Show.

I myself couldn’t believe the amount of marketing dedicated to farmed fish, specifically salmon, within the Expo.  It must have been a ratio of around 10:1, farmed to wild, but the emphasis on wild was difficult to find in the maze of farmed fish vendors.  Once we had regrouped, mixed chatter resonated many similar concerns; that quality of fishing is just as important as quality of marketing.

But we didn’t furrow our eyebrows the whole three days in Boston. Other great conversations were carried as we met with young fishermen of east coast fisheries, slurped urchins and oysters with local seafood company, Red’s Best, and talked with members of the Cape Cod Fisheries Trust about fisheries access for our communities.  There was a definite air of mutual respect between fishermen and amongst fishermen and fishery defenders.

The group enjoyed getting to know more about local seafood business, Red's Best, during a reception at their headquarters.

The group enjoyed getting to know more about local seafood business, Red’s Best, during a reception at their headquarters.

Though if I think about my greatest take-away from the three days in Boston, it would be the quick camaraderie and in-depth conversations that we are having with one another. It’s impressionable for me to be in a community with other young Alaskan folk who are equally passionate and willing to go the large strides it will take to protect our fishing culture and lifestyle and make positive changes in our regions.  I’m proud to be associated with young people like this.

So with a head full of thoughts and opinions and experiences, we just landed in Washington D.C. for the next leg of our journey.

Young fishermen visit with the CEO of Bambino's Baby Food, Zoi Maroudas-Tziolas , a Symphony of Seafood winner.

Young fishermen visit with the CEO of Bambino’s Baby Food, Zoi Maroudas-Tziolas , a Symphony of Seafood winner.

 

 

**Follow along on the Young Fishermen’s Educational Tour on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at #nextgenfishtour.**

Young fishermen learn about fisheries access for communities,  regional fisheries policy , and mission-driven finance in Boston.

Young fishermen learn about fisheries access for communities, regional fisheries policy , and mission-driven finance in Boston.

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to sponsors of the Young Fishermen’s Educational Tour: Salmon Sisters, Edible Alaska, United Fishermen of Alaska, BulletProof Nets, United Cook Inlet Drift Association, Marine Fish Conservation Network and many AMCC members! 

 

 



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