fisheries-access

Young Fishermen’s Bill Introduced in U.S. Senate

Date Posted: June 12, 2017       Categories: AMCC Blog AMCC in the News Press Releases       Tags: Federal Fisheries Policy, Fisheries Access, Young Fishermen's Network

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.”

About the Young Fishermen’s Development Act

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.

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Why We Support Regional Fisheries Trusts

By Rachel Donkersloot & Shannon Carroll

Genetic diversity, life history and age structure are important attributes of healthy fisheries. For example, we know that life history factors, including changes in population size structure or species composition, and recruitment variability affect the ecological sustainability of fisheries. Same goes for spatial factors such as a reduction in the geographic range of a fish population or the loss of a subpopulation.

But fisheries are not just ecological systems. Fisheries are socioecological systems and attributes of diversity, history and age structure are important dimensions to consider in social and cultural contexts as well.

rft blog_quote_2Weak recruitments into commercial fisheries in recent decades, termed the graying of the fleet, paired with dramatic shifts in the spatial distribution of fishing benefits and ownership rights, threaten the social and cultural sustainability of Alaska fisheries and fishing communities.

Today, more than three-quarters of Bristol Bay salmon permits are held by nonlocals. Kodiak’s Alutiiq villages have suffered an 84% decrease in the number of young people owning state fishing permits, and a 67% decrease in the number of state permits overall. In the southeast villages of Angoon, Hoonah, Hydaburg, and Kake, the number of young people owning state permits dropped sharply from 131 to only 17 between 1985-2013. These shifts have profound consequences for the health and well-being of Alaska fishery systems.

There is a lot of talk about Alaska’s graying fleet today. A central concern is how the future succession of fishery access rights (i.e., permits, quota) will exacerbate the already high levels of loss experienced in Alaska’s fishing communities. These concerns are well founded but it is worth remembering that our aging fleet is, at this moment, an incredible asset to the industry and our communities.

Alaska’s long-time fishermen serve as repositories of wisdom and much needed mentors. These fishermen are integral to intergenerational learning and ensuring multigenerational connections to place, culture and livelihood. The experiences and insights of veteran community-based fishermen are among the many tools that the next generation needs to be successful. This transfer of local and fishing knowledge, values and practices requires more than a willingness to ‘pass down’ knowledge. This transfer hinges on whether the next generation of fishermen has actual opportunity to enter into the commercial fishing industry and become owner-operators.

AMCC has been at the forefront of efforts to support the next generation of Alaska commercial fishermen. Through research on the graying of the fleet, national legislation such as the Young Fishermen’s Development Program, our active participation at the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, and programs like the Young Fishing Fellows Program and Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network, we are dedicated to developing solutions to ensure the socioecological health of our fisheries.

rft blog_quoteAs part of this effort, we have been watching and weighing in on HB 188, legislation that would enable the creation of Regional Fisheries Trusts in Alaska. AMCC supports HB 188, and the Regional Fisheries Trust concept, because it is a tool that will help ensure that the life history and age structure of Alaska fisheries remains balanced and diverse.

These regional trusts are highly controlled and will provide a path to local and independent ownership for Alaska residents; as a result, they will stem the outmigration of permits from our coastal communities. This is not an untested idea. Other fishing regions, including Maine, Massachusetts, Newfoundland and Norway have created similar tools that anchor access rights in fishing communities to bolster local economies and support new and rural fishermen in overcoming the sometimes impassable barriers to entry into commercial fisheries. 

Regional Fisheries Trusts will not single handedly solve the problems affecting our fisheries and communities, but it is an important part of the suite of solutions that Alaska needs to be advancing. Trusts recreate the opportunity (e.g., diversity, history and structure) that is fundamental to the health of our fishing communities and help to recapture some of the benefits currently leaving Alaska in the form of rights, income and livelihood.    

HB 188 was read across the House floor on March 20, 2017. You can read the full bill here.

This post was inspired by recent conversations on a number of worthwhile texts, including Mountain in the Clouds by Bruce Brown, Poe et al. 2013, Pitcher et al. 2013 and several research articles authored by Courtney Carothers.

Rachel Donkersloot is AMCC’s Working Waterfronts program director. Shannon Carroll is AMCC’s fisheries policy director. 



Member Spotlight: Erica Madison

Date Posted: April 23, 2017       Categories: AMCC Blog       Tags: Fisheries Access, Fisheries Conservation, Working Waterfronts, Young Fishermen's Network

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.

e-news_april_erica madisonWhy do you choose to support AMCC? 

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.

e-news_april_erica madison_2What do you see as the biggest threat to Alaska’s small-boat commercial fisherman?

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.



Bill to Establish National Young Fishermen’s Program Introduced

Date Posted: April 13, 2017       Categories: AMCC Blog AMCC in the News Press Releases       Tags: Federal Fisheries Policy, Fisheries Access, Young Fishermen's Network

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
APRIL 13, 2017

Bill to Establish National Young Fishermen’s Program Introduced

Initiative Gains Momentum as Reps. Young and Moulton Sponsor Legislation to Empower Next Generation of Commercial Fishermen

Washington, DC – Representatives Don Young (R-AK) and Seth Moulton (D-MA) have introduced the Young Fishermen’s Development Act of 2017 (H.R. 2079), a bill that would establish the first national program to support young men and women entering the commercial fishing industry. The bipartisan, bicoastal legislation, was introduced on April 6 and would provide grants of up to $200,000 (totaling $2 million annually) through NOAA’s Sea Grant Program. H.R. 2079 marks a big step forward in the Fishing Communities Coalition’s (FCC) push to launch the first coordinated, nationwide effort to train, educate and assist the next generation of commercial fishermen. Alaska Marine Conservation Council (AMCC), a member organization of the FCC, has played an integral role in shaping this important legislation and generating diverse support from fishing communities and leaders.

“Alaskans understand that coastal communities rely on strong fisheries and fishermen to thrive,” said Alaska fisherman Hannah Heimbuch, AMCC staff and coordinator of the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network. “This is an excellent opportunity to work with our nation’s leaders to nurture future generations of commercial fishermen, empowering them to be capable business owners, strong community leaders, and providers of sustainably harvested American seafood.”

Despite daunting challenges that have made it harder than ever for young men and women to start a career in commercial fishing—including the high cost of entry, financial risks and limited entry-level opportunities—there is not a single federal program dedicated to training, educating and assisting young people starting their careers in commercial fishing. AMCC recognizes that this is a vital part of supporting the healthy future of coastal communities, families, and the food and opportunity they provide. The legislation introduced this week 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.

“Congressman Young has long been a champion of Alaska’s fishermen, and we thank him for his strong leadership on this vital issue,” said Linda Behnken, executive director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association. “Empowering the next generation of young fishermen is essential to economic opportunity, food security and our entire way of life.”

Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have expressed initial support for the legislation, as dozens of FCC members, including commercial fishermen from New England, Alaska, California and the Gulf Coast have met with them to promote this and other priorities of small-boat community-based commercial fishermen.

“This innovative new program is only one effort to preserve fishing heritage and encourage new participation in the industry,” said Young. “Young commercial fishermen are facing bigger challenges than ever before – new barriers to entry, limited training opportunities and a lack of support. This legislation is about supporting the livelihoods of fishing communities in Alaska and across the nation. I’m proud to stand with our young fishermen by introducing this important piece of legislation.”

“The fishing industry is vital to the Sixth District and to our entire region, but we’re at a crossroads,” said Moulton. “This legislation will help to sustain the fishing industry by ensuring that our young people not only have a future in fishing, but are also empowered with the training and resources necessary to thrive in the 21st-century economy. I’m grateful to Congressman Young for his collaboration on this bill and broader efforts to support our young fishermen.”

In addition to building congressional support, the Fishing Communities Coalition and its member organizations intend to meet with representatives from the Trump administration to seek support for the program.

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.

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Member Spotlight: Amy Schaub

Date Posted: March 28, 2017       Categories: AMCC Blog       Tags: Fisheries Access, Fisheries Conservation, Working Waterfronts, Young Fishermen's Network

Amy Schaub is a first-generation commercial fisherman, and one of only a handful of female captains in the Southeast salmon seine fishery. In 2015, she bought the F/V Norsel, a 1950 wooden seiner that she maintains using her training from the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding. In nearly a decade of fishing commercially off the coasts of Alaska, Washington and California, Amy has longlined for halibut, black cod and gray cod; jigged for cod and rockfish; fished for prawn; seined for salmon and squid; and fished for Dungeness crab. Amy lives in Homer. 

Photo courtesy of Evgenia Arbugaeva for Vogue

How long have you been commercial fishing? What drew you to this work?

Nine years. I missed being out on the water. I had been a sailor then boat yard worker and ship wright apprentice for a few years when I wanted to be out on the water instead of under a boat. I also wanted to try something new than sailing tall ships.

What would most seafood consumers be surprised to learn about your life as a small-boat fisherman?

That it is a small independent business that I own and operate. That we are paid cents on the pound for fish we deliver. That this is my life blood and livelihood. That I am one of very few women operating a seiner.

What do you especially love about your fishing livelihood?

That you never know what you are going to get, it is a surprise every day, every season. That you have a fishing community that supports you in good times and especially in bad. That it is seasonal. That life is abundant yet setting your limits to ensure the future of the fish and fishermen.  That you are providing the best food for the world- Wild Alaskan Seafood!

What’s happening in the small-boat fishing world that is exciting or encouraging?

I am excited that the AMCC has worked with the Kodiak Jig Association to keep the jig fishing alive, as well as, providing a local source of seafood to the community and a great market for the fishermen. That I own a small boat and I can fish. I can have my own operation.

Photo courtesy Amy Schaub

What part of AMCC’s work resonates most with you?

That they work with fishermen to bring from the sea to locals. That locals get seafood and small boat fishermen have another great market option. I also feel that the AMCC recognizes the greying of the fleet and are working with young fishermen.

Where in Alaska would you like to visit or spend more time?

I would like to explore more of the Kenai Peninsula, the Interior and out on the Aleutian Chain.

Describe a moment or day that is one of your favorite memories of fishing.

A day long ago I was pot fishing for prawns in SE. The snow started and slightly receded down the mountain, the weather  was calm, the trees turning colors, an old grey wolf came down the to the beach, whales breached beside and us laughing, joking and smiling as we hauled the pots of spot prawns aboard. There was an abundance of beauty, life, smiles and fish.

What is your hope for the future of fishing in Alaska?

That there is a future of fishing. I hope to fish another 30 years. I want the same sense of life, abundance, and sustainability for many lives to come.



Member Spotlight: Andrew Steinkruger

Date Posted: February 27, 2017       Categories: AMCC Blog       Tags: Fisheries Access, Fisheries Conservation, Working Waterfronts, Young Fishermen's Network

Andrew Steinkruger is an AMCC volunteer. He recently graduated from University of Alaska Anchorage with degrees in Economics and Spanish. In addition to promoting healthy fisheries at AMCC, Andrew has supported other Alaska-based environmental and political organizations. He lives in Anchorage. 

andrew_fbHow did you become involved with AMCC?

I first heard about AMCC after graduating from UAA, when I was looking to volunteer for conservation work coordinated by and for Alaskans. AMCC’s unique work in developing policy recommendations and engaging with coastal communities really impressed me, and I jumped at the opportunity to help out with the Catch of the Season program.

Working on the retail end of a community-supported fisheries program was a great experience. I learned a good deal about the diverse fisheries marketing their products through the Catch of the Season, as well as the Alaskans who choose to buy from a local, sustainable supply chain.

Why do you choose to support AMCC as a volunteer?

I find AMCC’s commitment to community fisheries and local input really compelling. There are plenty of conservationist organizations around Alaska, but few engage with Alaskans making a living from our state’s resources to the same degree as AMCC.

What part of AMCC’s work interests you the most?

I’m especially excited about AMCC’s work to improve fisheries access for Alaskans through the Young Fishermen’s Network. Any program encouraging community entrepreneurship is worth supporting, and seeing other young Alaskans develop livelihoods in fisheries is inspiring.

What do you see as the biggest threat to Alaska’s small-boat commercial fisherman?4325_80018429860_2705991_n

In a word, consolidation. The trend toward out-of-state ownership of Alaskan fishing fleets is longstanding, and continues to threaten effective stewardship of the state’s marine resources.

What three things do you love most about living in Alaska, or in your community?

Only three?

Alaska’s natural wealth, public access, and opportunities for public engagement with regulation are three things I love about living in Southcentral Alaska that I might not find in any other state. The diversity of our natural resources and the countless ways we can go about enjoying them are incredible.

Where in Alaska would you like to visit or spend more time?

A few years ago, I turned down a job opportunity in the Bristol Bay sockeye fishery. I’ve regretted that since, and I hope I get the chance to go out to Southwest Alaska for work and general adventure in the next few years.

What have you learned from volunteering with AMCC?

The diversity of projects run by AMCC and the organization’s engagement with communities all over Alaska is impressive. I’ve definitely learned to appreciate the complexity of our state’s marine economy, and the deep connections between coastal Alaskans and the fisheries they’ve built livelihoods on.



Give back to healthy oceans with a year-end gift to AMCC

I want to tell you about Reise and Harmony Wayner. This brother and sister grew up near the end of the Aleutian chain in Unalaska. Their backyard was a landscape of emerald green hills, streams filled with wild salmon, and a rich ocean filled with a diversity of marine life.

The Wayner Family, courtesy Amy Gulick

The Wayner Family. Photo: Amy Gulick

Taught by their parents, Rhonda and Paul, this generation of Wayners continues the tradition of fishing at their family’s setnet site in Bristol Bay every summer. They have developed a strong sense of respect for the natural resources that support their family and other families like theirs.

Reise, Harmony, and other young fishermen and subsistence leaders from Sitka to Shaktoolik are shaping the future of coastal communities in Alaska. They understand that healthy fisheries are vital to the future of Alaska. And they are concerned about what the alarming pace of environmental change, unsettling national politics, and Alaska’s ailing economy will mean for the future.

Your support is needed now more than ever by Alaska’s fishing communities and families. Alaska Marine Conservation Council helps ensure the protection of Alaska’s marine resources for this and future generations. Please consider making a gift today.

Thanks to you, here’s a sampling of what we have accomplished in 2016:

  • Grown the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network and expanded its impact to help nurture the next generation of coastal community leaders;
  • Catalyzed movement towards practical and informed solutions to keep fishing opportunities in our coastal communities;
  • Fostered smart solutions to bycatch in the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea that consider the needs of local communities and long-term conservation;
  • Built a national coalition of small-scale fishermen ready to defend the Magnuson-Stevens Act, our nation’s “fish bill;”
  • Advanced an ecosystem-based approach to management in the North Pacific—one that addresses fishing impacts, supports inclusive decision-making and considers the effects of climate change;
  • Supported research, action, and engagement on the impacts of ocean acidification; and
  • Connected more than 600 Alaska seafood consumers with community fishermen through Catch of the Season, our thriving community supported fishery.

None of us know how the new administration’s actions and policies will impact our marine ecosystems. But one thing is certain. We must remain vigilant.

With your support, AMCC will—as we have for over 20 years—continue to advocate on critical issues today, tomorrow and for the next 20 years. We are in this for the long haul.

We have some ambitious goals for 2017:

Donate to AMCC by Dec. 31 to ensure a healthy future for Alaska's fishing families!

Donate to AMCC by Dec. 31 to ensure a healthy future for Alaska’s fishing families! Photo: Rhonda Wayner

  • Remain a steadfast and effective voice for regional and national fisheries policy that prioritizes conservation, communities, and local economies while considering the larger ecosystem and long-term changes;
  • Carry out cutting-edge social science research to generate knowledge and smart solutions to the “graying of the fleet” and support the well-being of coastal communities;
  • Bring our ocean acidification educational kiosk to new communities in southeast Alaska and defend important investments in ocean acidification research; and
  • Harness the power of the local foods movement and social enterprise to expand the number of fishermen and consumers participating in AMCC’s community supported fishery.

Please stand with AMCC by making a gift now. It matters more than ever to Alaskans like Reise and Harmony Wayner and families in communities like theirs.

Thank you and happy holidays to you and yours.

Kelly Harrell
Executive Director



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



Policy Update: Trawl Bycatch Management Dominates Discussion at June Council Meeting

By: Shannon Carroll, Fisheries Policy Director

Earlier this month, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) met in Kodiak for its third meeting of the year. Though the Council took up other issues, including a 10-year review the Bering Sea crab rationalization program, it devoted much of its time to the Gulf of Alaska trawl bycatch management program.

During the three days devoted to the issue, the Council heard from nearly 75 stakeholders. Testimony largely focused on community concerns regarding the proposed program. Trawl vessel owners and processors continued to stress the importance of the trawl fishery to Kodiak, and reiterated the need for tools that would allow them to reduce bycatch and harvest under-fished flatfish. Other stakeholders, including community members and salmon and halibut fishermen, highlighted the need for 100% observer coverage, entry opportunities, and protective measures to mitigate the kinds of community impacts associated with past catch share programs.

These impacts include excessive consolidation, out-migration of wealth and access, and the loss of support services. The Council also received a presentation on the Community Fishing Association (CFA) concept by AMCC staff and other community members.

At the conclusion of public testimony, Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner, Sam Cotten, made a motion to establish three overarching goals for the program: (1) bycatch management, (2) increased groundfish utilization, and (3) maintaining opportunities to enter the fishery by—potentially—limiting any groundfish harvest privileges that might be allocated. The purpose of the motion, according to Commissioner Cotten, was to ensure that access to the fishery remains a top priority in the development of the new program. Permanently allocating a public resource to current participants, he noted, effectively locks out the next generation and benefits larger corporations with access to the most capital.

After a lengthy discussion, and one amendment, the Council passed Commissioner Cotten’s motion. The Council also passed a motion adopting the stakeholder-proposed changes to the CFA alternative. These changes included a more defined board governance structure, community eligibility definition, and specific goals and objectives.

The Council will next review the program during its December meeting in Anchorage.

Full motions from the Council meeting are available via links from the Council agenda here. The Council’s newsletter describing these actions in greater detail is posted here.

For more info on Gulf of Alaska trawl bycatch management:

Council adds guidance to Gulf alternatives
Catch shares are still a drag

The Council bid Duncan Fields farewell

It was fitting that Duncan’s last meeting was held in his hometown of Kodiak. In his nine years on the Council, Duncan has been a tireless advocate for Alaska’s coastal communities and small boat fishermen. We at AMCC will certainly miss him.

Read more here: Fields’ voice never louder as he ends nine-year council run



Workshop highlights statewide momentum for improved community fisheries access

Date Posted: January 21, 2016       Categories: AMCC Blog       Tags: Fisheries Access, Working Waterfronts

By: Hannah Heimbuch, Community Fisheries Organizer

Fishing2003-1114_zps190aa280 (1)While Alaska’s communities are diverse and often geographically distant, what they share coast-wide is a historic fisheries tradition — one that has sustained Alaskans through food, cultural heritage and economy. Increasingly, however, these communities also have in common a shrinking number of fishermen.

Just after the New Year, community and fisheries leaders from around the state gathered in Anchorage to discuss coastal Alaska’s continued loss of fisheries access — through outmigration of permits and quota, fleet consolidation, stock depletion by other fisheries, and other factors. January’s Fisheries Access Workshop, hosted by Alaska Sea Grant, was a two-day forum covering the serious implications these losses have to community health across the state.

This is not a new problem. Presenters, like Steve Langdon and Robin Samuelsen, outlined decades worth of information that showed coastal Alaska’s not-so-gradual exit from local fisheries — often one of the few if not only robust local economies. AMCC’s Dr. Rachel Donkersloot and Dr. Courtney Carothers of UAF presented their Graying of the Fleet research, showing the profound effects that declining fisheries access has on individual and community health in coastal communities. Leaders from across Alaska spoke to how these impacts are being felt in their regions, and also to the significant barriers to entry, made even more challenging in areas with a limited cash economy. Those include high costs, complex and changing management systems, and loss of skills through non-participation, among others.

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While these are ongoing issues, the workshop also highlighted a strong and growing momentum toward finding solutions that mean real and lasting change for coastal Alaska. Lt. Governor Byron Mallott spoke to the urgency with which this issue need be addressed. Alaskan success stories, like that of the Norton Sound red king crab fishery, offered a promising example of a community regaining access to a local fishery. Other speakers focused on efforts that offer options for moving forward; Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins speaking to the concept of community permit banks, and AMCC’s Kodiak staffer Theresa Peterson joining Ernie Weiss from the Aleutian’s East Borough to discuss community fishing associations.

This issue has been tackled around the nation and indeed the world, and the Alaska group had the benefit of hearing from several places outside the state, including Maine, Cape Cod, Iceland, Norway and Denmark. These presenters shared their own stories of community access loss, and the diverse solutions they’ve developed — including apprenticeship and student-licensing programs in Maine, and community permits banks in Cape Cod.

This wealth of information was followed by heated discussion in the break out groups, it became clear that the path forward will not be simple. But despite diverse concerns for the future, the unifying need to halt and reverse the trend of fisheries access loss in Alaska has certainly and will continue to bring community and fisheries leaders together. Now is the time to find real and meaningful solutions that build toward sustainable fisheries and fishing communities, and AMCC looks forward to continued participation in this essential progress.


To watch the workshop’s video archive or download presentations please click here.



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