Our team is looking forward to be back in Kodiak for ComFish, the largest commercial fishing trade show in Alaska. AMCC is pleased to host three great community events this year. We look forward to seeing you on the Emerald Isle!
Fish Taco Night
Celebrate our island’s bounty with delicious fish tacos featuring rockfish harvested by local fisherman Darius Kasprzak of Kodiak Jig Seafoods and processed by Pacific Seafood on our working waterfront. The tacos will once again be prepared by the Association of Latin Women in Alaska.
Stakeholder Engagement in Fisheries Policy
Learn how fishermen and marine industry workers can get more involved in fisheries management in this panel discussion. Short talks from the panel participants will be followed by a Q&A discussion with the audience to better examine the ideas raised.
Presenters: Duncan Fields, former North Pacific Fishery Management Council member; Sue Jeffrey, Alaska Board of Fisheries Member; Natasha Hayden for the Native Village of Afognak; and a representative from the Kodiak Seiners Association.
Ocean Acidification and the Seafood Industry
AMCC is excited to be returning to ComFish, Alaska’s largest fishery trade show. ComFish 2016 runs from March 31 – April 2 in Kodiak. See you on the Emerald Isle!
Fish Taco Night
What: Kodiak Jig Seafoods fish tacos
Where: Kodiak Island Brewery
When: Wednesday, March 30 from 4–7 pm
Kick off ComFish right! We’re celebrating Kodiak’s bounty with fish tacos featuring cod harvested by local small boat fishermen. We look forward to this popular event all year. See you at the brewery! $5 suggested donation.
What: “Right to Fish: Challenges and Opportunities in Alaska Fishing Access”
When: Thursday, March 31 from 10 am–12 pm
Where: Best Western Kodiak Inn Banquet Room
Join researchers, policymakers and fishermen for an engaging panel discussion about potential solutions for improving local fishing access for Alaskans. This event is free to the public. Complimentary fish chowder will be provided by Monk’s Rock.
Paula Cullenberg, Alaska Sea Grant
Paula is the director of the Alaska Sea Grant program, a partnership between NOAA and UAF that has focused on strong coastal communities and economies and healthy resources in Alaska for over 40 years. Her family are longtime setnetters in Bristol Bay.
Paula will present a summary of recommendations from a recent workshop called, Fisheries Access for Alaska – Charting the Future. More than 100 Alaskans from fishing communities across the state participated and discussed ways to ensure our fisheries continue to support Alaska into the future.
Courtney Carothers, Ph.D., University of Alaska Fairbanks
Courtney is an Associate Professor of Fisheries at UAF. She has been working closely with Kodiak communities for more than 10 years to study questions of access and equity in Alaska’s fisheries.
Courtney will present the initial results from “The Graying of the Fleet and Alaska’s Next Generation of Fishermen,” a research project conducted in Kodiak and Bristol Bay based on more than 130 interviews and 800 surveys with local youth.
Hannah Heimbuch, Alaska Marine Conservation Council
Hannah Heimbuch is a third-generation commercial fisherman from Homer, Alaska. She fishes salmon and halibut in the Gulf of Alaska, and works as the Community Fisheries Organizer for Alaska Marine Conservation Council.
Hannah will discuss the development of The Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network. The network aims to connect and empower young fishermen to become the next generation of fishing leaders in Alaska—in business, policy and stewardship.
Duncan Fields, North Pacific Fishery Management Council
Raised in Kodiak, Duncan and his family have fished salmon in Uyak Bay each summer since 1960. In the early 80’s Duncan attended law school and returned to Kodiak to work for fishermen: first on the Exxon Valdez litigation and then on regulatory issues. He was appointed to the Legislative Salmon task force in 2002, the Alaska Fisheries Marketing Board in 2003 and the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute Board in 2004 and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) in 2007 where he still serves.
Duncan will present a conceptual framework and application of Alternative 3 in the Council’s current Gulf of Alaska Trawl Bycatch Management motion.
Full details on ComFish 2016 here.
By Kelly Harrell, Executive Director
AMCC decided to take the plunge this spring and submit our concept for scaling up local seafood sales through creation of the Alaska Community Seafood Hub to the international fisheries-focused business plan competition known as Fish 2.0. This was the second time the ground-breaking competition has been hosted after first launching to high acclaim in 2013. For those in the fisheries world, Fish 2.0 quickly became the go-to place for those interested in advancing cutting-edge business models focused on the triple-bottom line of social, environmental, and economic impact.
The rigorous competition is divided into four phases with only those with top scores advancing on to the next stage. Detailed financial projections, plans for dealing with competition, and social and environmental metrics were all part of the process. 170 companies applied and AMCC continued to advance to the next stage, eventually emerging at the top of the pack. In September, we learned we were one of 18 finalists that would give a 5-minute pitch to a crowd of funders and investors at Stanford in November. The competition provided some great resources along the way: expert advisors to help us with our submissions and seasoned coaches to help us polish our pitch to perfection.
When I left Alaska to head to Stanford last week, situated in the heart of Silicon Valley, I had no idea what to expect. I was thrilled that AMCC made it to the finals for our place-based, social enterprise business model and honored to be part of a global gathering of innovative fisheries entrepreneurs. I was both nervous and excited at the opportunity to share our work with other fish businesses and impact investors.
On the first day of the competition, I was put at ease by the amazing camaraderie in the crowd. It was clear that given the fisheries challenges that we face around the planet from, we truly are all in this together. A few faces were familiar as friends from Salty Girls Seafood and Monterey Bay Fisheries Trust were also finalists. Colleagues from Real Good Fish, Credibles, as well as another Alaska competitor, ORCA (Ocean Rich Communities of Alaska), and Ian Dutton from Anchorage, now with Nautilus Impact Investing were also present. Off the Hook Seafood Hub from Nova Scotia and Smart Fish based out of La Paz, Mexico which both have similar business models to ours were also finalists and runners up. As an Alaskan, I of course had mixed feelings about the number of aquaculture focused businesses in the competition. But I was pleased to see the advances being made in land-based aquaculture systems as well as innovations in fish feed made from insects and algae, as opposed to wild fish. A large number of Pacific Islanders were present, as well as companies from Thailand, Switzerland, and Australia. Environmental funders and impact investors from groups like RSF Social Finance, the Calvert Foundation, and Aqua Spark rounded out the crowd.
My pitch came on the second day of the competition within a pool of four other businesses considered at growth stage (more than 3 years of revenue). Most of the other businesses in the track included the Pacific Islanders running compelling businesses to help further the interests of their small island communities. I was first up to deliver my pitch and was thrilled to do so calmly and without forgetting my lines. Giving a business pitch in front of an audience of 250+ folks was completely new to me, and memorizing every line of the 5-minute pitch took at least one hundred rounds of practice. I felt I answered the judge’s questions well during the 8-minute question and answer session, and was thoroughly relieved when it was finally over and I could step down from the stage.
In each of the three tracks, two businesses were selected as winners to receive $5,000 in cash along with the recognition that comes along with having top scores. At the end of the competition, when it was announced we were one of the winners in our track, it was really icing on the cake by that point. I was honored to get to be up on the stage with the other winners and of course excited to take home $5,000 for AMCC. But by then, we all knew that nearly everyone in the crowd was worthy of that level of recognition and support. Fishing is behind the game when it comes to smart innovations in technology and business to help further the long-term health of our fisheries, oceans and coastal communities. We truly are all swimming together, and it was eye-opening to view our work as part of a national and global mosaic of fish-focused entrepreneurial efforts. We certainly plan to stay connected with other businesses and contacts we met at Fish 2.0, especially those advancing seafood hub models, and are hopeful that the exposure results in increased support for our work.
In September, AMCC also learned that the Alaska Community Seafood Hub received a $96,000 grant from the USDA Local Foods Promotion Program. With this support, we will hire a full-time staff member that is solely focused on local seafood sales and operations. We’ll also engage a communications firm to help create the Alaska Community Seafood Hub brand. This funding will be critical in allowing us to expand our seafood offerings, better serve our current customers, and expand to new communities in Alaska.
Adding to the momentum are discussions AMCC has been in with economic players and food businesses about bringing food hubs to Alaska, including a facility in Anchorage that would have amenities like a commercial kitchen and freezer storage space. AMCC and the Alaska Food Policy Council helped bring a Wallace Center workshop on food hubs to Anchorage in October that was attended by food leaders from across the state.
None of this progress would have been possible without the support of our Catch of the Season customers, the fishermen and processors we work with, Kodiak Jig supporters, members, and partners like you. You have made it possible for us to successfully build a local seafood sales program that connects Alaskans to our local fishermen and coastal communities. Thank you so much for your support and stay tuned for more to come soon!
AMCC has been working with Darius Kasprzak since they collaborated with Kodiak fishermen to secure a decision by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council to set aside up to 6% of the Gulf of Alaska cod quota for the low-impact jig fleet, providing more opportunity for small boat and entry-level fishermen. Recently, AMCC’s Engagement and Development Manager, Samantha Baker, talked with Kasprzak about this jig set-aside, the creation of the Kodiak Jig Seafoods brand, and his support of AMCC as its newest business member.
Sam: How did you get started fishing in Alaska? What does fishing (and specifically jig fishing) symbolize for you?
Darius: I was raised and home schooled on the highly rural south end of Kodiak Is. At age 14, I began crewing on a salmon setnet site along with my father, to make fall spending money for my first school year in a community (Kodiak High School).
Fishing symbolizes an independent, self employed method to make a living close to the ocean. Jig fishing in particular reflects an entry level and open access means to independently harvest premium seafood in a sustainable, low ecosystem impact fashion without reliance on heavy, expensive gear or a plethora of crew.
S: How did you first come to work with AMCC?
D: I first came to work with with AMCC almost a decade ago, during a grassroots struggle against fishery privatization in the Gulf of Alaska.
S: What is your perception of AMCC on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council and in the world of fisheries policy?
D: AMCC testifies and is represented at NPFMC meetings, and consistently defends community fishing interests – in terms of available resource access that coexists with the necessary conservation and sustainable harvesting safeguards of responsible marine resource extraction.
S: What are ways you’ve seen AMCC’s work impact Kodiak? How do you perceive AMCC’s role in the region?
D: AMCC affiliation brings diverse subsets of community residents together, in order to galvanize action necessary to maintain the viability of resident, small scale, and family fishing operations – against marine ecosystem desecration, privatization, vertical integration, consolidation and other related aspects of large scale corporate greed and ambivalence towards preexisting socioeconomic patterns and overall social fabric cohesion.
I perceive AMCC’s role as twofold – (1) as that of whistleblower against unsustainable, or environmentally unsound marine resource extraction practices, and (2) as an advocate for policies that foster productive, harmonious port communities.
S: What did the jig set-aside mean for Kodiak fishermen? What did it mean for you and your fishing business?
D: The Federal jig set asides (Pacific cod and rockfish) meant the ability to jig harvest beyond the boundaries of State jurisdiction, without having to invest in expensive licenses or permits. They also provide a dedicated summertime jig fishery in the GOA, even if the State managed jig fishery has already been closed. As a full time jig fisherman, the set asides mean to me a much higher level of job security during the fair weather of summer, as well as expanded range and spatial opportunity to harvest.
S: What has the creation of Kodiak Jig Seafoods meant to you? How do you see this brand growing into the future?
D: KJS realizes an opportunity to showcase the unique and desirable aspects of the jig fishery (sustainable harvesting through artesian hand tended hook and line fishing, and exceptional product quality). KJS provides an alternative to large scale multi-sector corporate processor markets, and contributes to incentivizing free-market style ex-vessel price competition amongst various seafood buyers within my community.
S: How has Kodiak Jig Seafoods been received in Kodiak? How has it been received by others you’ve talked to (i.e. chefs, lodge owners, consumers, etc.)?
D: KJS has been received favorably in Kodiak. Small scale processing facilities appreciate the processing business. Jig fisherfolk appreciate the enhanced sales revenue, in conjunction with elevated pride of their special product recognition amongst local and instate consumers, restaurants, lodges, etc.
S: What else do you have to say about Kodiak, being a fisherman, anything else?
D: Love it! AMCC, keep up the good work!