By Hannah Heimbuch
Ocean acidification (OA) is a growing field of study across the globe, one that seafood producers and their communities continue to keep a close eye on. AMCC partners with groups around the state to promote this important dialogue throughout Alaska’s coastal communities.
Fishermen and scientists connect in Sitka
Most recently, that work took us to Sitka for a roundtable discussion between fishermen, community members, and OA researchers, supported by the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association. Twenty-five Sitka residents joined us for this Q&A session with a diverse team of scientists, led by oceanographer Jessica Cross of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Questions from the group focused on the impact of OA on food web dynamics and commercially important species. Scientists highlighted the long-term nature of their work, including the need for sustained monitoring to create a healthy baseline of OA data. This baseline helps us better understand the changes taking place, how those changes might impact the ecosystems we rely on, and how we might respond or adapt to them.
OA data collection and monitoring is a critical component to adaptive, ecosystem-based fisheries management. Understanding how ocean conditions are changing is an important first step towards risk assessment and, ultimately, building a path forward to adapt to changing conditions. Because the waters of the North Pacific are so large, and because the need for data is so great, stakeholder participation and coordination between stakeholders and management agencies is essential.
The Sitka discussion highlighted fisherman and community interest in participating in this process, with a focus on opportunities to meaningfully contribute to data collection. It also highlighted interest from the scientists in pursuing research that helps fishing communities and their stakeholders make strong decisions for their futures. A continuing dialogue between the research field and these communities is an important piece of sustaining the livelihoods and diverse species dependent on a thriving marine ecosystem.
State of the Science workshop draws OA experts from Alaska and beyond
AMCC began promoting this meeting format on the heels of a successful state of the science workshop, coordinated by the Alaska Ocean Acidification Network. This workshop highlighted interest in inspiring a more robust dialogue between OA experts and seafood stakeholders, among other strong initiatives taking place around the state. Additional community Q&A sessions will take place this spring. Follow AMCC on Facebook to stay in the loop.
Regional and nearshore monitoring underway in Southeast
In Southeast Alaska, residents can keep tabs on a variety of projects collecting vital information close to home. This region of the state is unique in the interesting array of OA monitoring efforts being led by Sitka Sound Science Center, the Sitka Tribe and the Alaska Marine Highway. In addition, the Sitka harbor master’s office is currently home to AMCC’s ocean acidification kiosk. This touchscreen device offers a unique learning experience, sharing information about OA and testimonials from stakeholders around the state.
Join the Alaska OA Network and stay informed
New monitoring projects and opportunities to weigh in on this important issue are growing every day. To keep up-to-date on OA news in Alaska and how to participate, join the Alaska Ocean Acidification Network. Another great opportunity to engage in ecosystem observations is the Local Environmental Observer Network, a Northern tribal collective that offers members an opportunity to share observations about local environmental events.
Hannah Heimbuch is AMCC’s Homer-based Community Fisheries Organizer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anchorage seafood lovers: Get your Vitamin Sea this winter with Catch of the Season, our community supported fishery! For two days only, we’ll be offering a pop-up market featuring king crab, rockfish and Pacific cod at our office in Anchorage. With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, treat your sweetheart (or your sweet self) to premium quality, frozen seafood harvested by small boat fishermen.
WHAT: Seafood sale, featuring king crab, rockfish, and Pacific cod harvested by Alaskan fishermen
WHEN: February 9–10 from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
WHERE: AMCC Office, 106 F St., Anchorage, AK 99501
This event is weather dependent. Any changes due to extreme weather will be posted to this page.
PRODUCT DETAILS & PRICING:
Norton Sound red king crab (10 lb. box): $250
Kodiak Jig Seafoods Pacific cod fillets (3-4 lb packages): $7 per lb.
Kodiak Jig Seafoods rockfish fillets (1-2 lb packages): $13 per lb.
Contact our local seafood sales manager, David Fleming, with any questions: 907.277.5357.
By Hannah Heimbuch and Rachel Donkersloot
This has been an exciting year for the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network. We’ve celebrated, made new friends, and are laying big plans for the future. It’s been a busy January so far. Network coordinator Hannah Heimbuch and three other Alaska fishermen recently traveled to Victoria, British Columbia, observing the annual meeting of the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC). Heimbuch, along with Keith Bell and Peter Neaton of Homer, and Carina Nichols of Sitka (who was recently appointed to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council’s Advisory Panel), participate in halibut fisheries that span Alaska’s coastline.
The IPHC process is a robust management collaboration between two countries and multiple gear types, spanning nearly a century. Just as we’ve seen our fleets greying, we’ve seen the same among the leaders and advocates in these important decision-making bodies. As the Network develops, an important part of our mission is giving fishermen an opportunity to experience this and other management and policy processes. Meeting decision makers and mentors in the policy arena, and gaining insight and experience in the process helps expand fishermen engagement and build a new generation of skilled leaders.
Also taking place in Victoria this week was a Young Fishermen’s Gathering geared toward supporting young harvesters in British Columbia, the first of its kind. Our group took some time to participate in this important discussion, an event modeled after Alaska Sea Grant’s robust Young Fishermen’s Summit. This gathering has been an excellent time to learn from those in other sectors, and better understand our shared strengths and challenges as North Pacific fishermen.
In other developments, Network participants around the state are gearing up to support spring workshops and events, including a fishing finance workshop in Sitka, a ComFish panel in Kodiak and a young fishermen’s happy hour in Anchorage. Details for these events are still developing, but we’re excited to see the Network helping to create regional opportunities that support their fishing businesses and communities. On the creative front, the Young Fishermen’s Almanac is underway and in the policy realm, the Young Fishermen’s Development Program continues to gain Congressional support.
In the coming year, the AYFN is going to be growing in some important ways and we’re going to need lots of help and ideas along the way from folks like you. We’re putting together a steering committee and regional AYFN chapters that will help create a vision for the AYFN in the future. If you are a young or a more experienced fishermen that wants to be engaged, please reach out to Hannah Heimbuch.
As part of this growing effort, we are excited to announce the pilot of the Young Fishing Fellows Program! The program will match the goals and needs of young fishermen today with host organizations across coastal Alaska engaged in fishery-related issues and projects. The aim is to provide young Alaskan fishermen with valuable learning, leadership and career-building opportunities through projects focused on fisheries management/policy, seafood business, fisheries and ocean science, marine conservation, or fishing community sustainability issues.
We are currently working with potential host organizations to develop and refine fellowship projects and plan to place 3-5 young fishing fellows in the next year. If you are interested in learning more about the Fishing Fellows program, please contact Rachel Donkersloot.
If you would like to learn more about developing the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network in your community, please contact Hannah Heimbuch to sign up and join the Network’s Facebook group. Stay tuned for more information!
Hannah Heimbuch is AMCC’s Community Fisheries Organizer. Rachel Donkersloot is AMCC’s Working Waterfronts Program Director. Both can be reached via email or by calling 907.277.5357.
Kate Consenstein is an AMCC member and a champion of wild Alaskan seafood. She grew up picking fish at her family set-net site on Kodiak’s west side. Kate is the principal and chief strategist of Rising Tide Communications, an Alaskan communications firm specializing in public relations, strategic communications, and integrated branding. Kate’s work is centered on fishery-related marketing as well as campaigns of all kinds. She lives in Anchorage with her husband and daughter.
My family history, my culture and my livelihood are all connected to Alaska’s wild fisheries. A large part of my job is telling the story of Alaska’s amazing seafood and the individuals, families and communities that are supported by it.
How did you become involved with AMCC?
I learned about AMCC through their early Catch of the Season work in tanner crab, as well as being an excellent collaborator with Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.
What part of AMCC’s work resonates most with you?
Having been raised in a fishing family, I am truly appreciative of AMCC’s efforts to support young fishermen and increase Alaskans’ participation in our commercial fisheries. I wish everyone could grow up with an appreciation for our fisheries and our ocean.
What is your most vivid fishing memory?
I have so many memories of picking fish with my dad, cutting kelp off our lines, listening to the sounds of whales in the distance. It’s hard to pick.
Have you ever participated in Alaska’s commercial fisheries? If so, please tell us a bit about your experience.
I grew up spending summers at our family set net site on the west side of Kodiak, where my dad still fishes every summer. My brother seines in Kodiak on his boat, the F/V Atlas. My uncle owned a beautiful wooden boat, F/V Kilkenny for many years, fishing for scallops, halibut and black cod. He still catches salmon and halibut on his hand troller the F/V Godwit.
What’s happening in the small boat commercial fishing industry that is exciting or encouraging?
I am excited to see so many young people investing in their own boats, especially young women. I didn’t see a lot of women fishing growing up. There’s a lot of positive role models out there now.
Why do you give to AMCC?
I give to AMCC because every dollar they receive contributes to Alaska’s waters, fishermen, fishing communities and the things I love most about Alaska. They have top-notch professional staff that work incredibly hard and it is important to me to support them. I know they make the most of every dollar to support efforts I believe in.
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.
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:
- 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.
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.
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).
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.
Jim Stratton is a long-time Alaskan and a founding member of AMCC. He has more than 30 years of public lands advocacy experience, including various roles at Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, Alaska Conservation Foundation, and an 8-year stint as Director of Alaska State Parks. Jim recently retired from the National Parks Conservation Association as Alaska Regional Director. He volunteers his time to conservation causes and hosts the Arctic Cactus Hour every Saturday night on Anchorage public radio.
How did you become involved with AMCC?
I was actually at the meeting that created AMCC, so have been involved from the very beginning. When I worked for the Alaska Conservation Foundation we explored the idea of creating a community based, grassroots marine conservation organization. We hired Nevette Bowen to talk with fisherman across the state and see if they also thought there was a need for a group. With overwhelming positive responses, we gathered a group in Anchorage and over a three day retreat created what is now AMCC.
How AMCC successfully blends support for small boat fisheries with a strong marine conservation message. AMCC’s support for conservation by supporting community based fisheries will ensue that the organization will be around and relevant for a long time.
What is your most vivid fishing memory?
I remember hooking up two silvers at the same time during one of my Dad’s visits when I lived in and had a boat in Juneau. There is nothing like a silver dancing on the end of your fishing rod and having two on at once was more than double the fun!!
Have you ever participated in Alaska’s commercial fisheries? If so, please tell us a bit about your experience.
I have not participated in Alaska’s commercial fisheries, but my father did some hand-trolling off the Oregon Coast (he fished out of Newport) when I was in middle school and I was regularly called upon to drive the boat while he worked the gear.
How do you celebrate your connection to the ocean as an Alaskan?
I have always lived within an hour of the ocean and spent a lot of time at the beach or fishing with my Dad growing up in Oregon, so when I moved to Alaska I made sure I lived in coastal communities. I need to spend time walking beaches or just sitting and watching the waves. It is essential for my mental health. I especially like watching waves crash ashore on rocky coastlines. And in a storm is even better! There is something so soothing about the rhythm and chaos of the waves.
What do you see as the biggest threat to Alaska’s small-boat commercial fisherman?
Climate change is the biggest threat, followed closely by policy makers that are climate deniers. The changes in ocean acidification and temperature are having such profound changes and we really have no idea where it is going to lead. This is a threat not only to small-boat fisherman, but to all of us.
What three things do you love most about living in Alaska?
The people, the wildness and sun all summer!
Where in Alaska would you like to visit or spend more time?
I would like to spend more time along the lost coast between Yakutat and Cordova. It is so remote, yet not that far away. I did a kayak trip once in Icey Bay and the close proximity of those huge mountains to the ocean really made an impression. I worked on protecting the Yakataga State Game Refuge, but have never been there. I’ve heard the wildlife is plentiful and there are some good long beaches to explore.
Ryan Horwath jigs for cod and rockfish out of Kodiak. He and his father moved to Kodiak in 2003 to take the reins of his uncle’s fishing business. Ryan is a member of the Alaska Jig Association and an advocate for sustainable fisheries. Ryan was recently appointed to AMCC’s board of directors.
What is your connection to the ocean, coastal Alaska, or the fishing industry?
Growing up in Rochester, NY, I had an elusive uncle who would occasionally show up and describe the harsh winters and stories of adventure in Alaska. One year in the middle of a blizzard he showed up with a box full of king crab. After a night of the adults stuffing themselves with the delicacy, he proceeded to build an igloo on our front lawn informing me, “These are our houses in Alaska.” I was intrigued. After a tragic diving accident in 2003, I was the only one of four siblings who had ever fished with him—or even stepped foot in Alaska—and I was asked to help settle the estate. My father and I both left our lives in the Lower 48 with dreams of independence and freedom. Thirteen years later, I’m the weird uncle in Alaska, jigging for cod and rockfish.
How did you first get involved with AMCC and why you decided to become a member of AMCC?
What are the strongest connections between you and AMCC?
What do you see as the number one issue facing Alaska’s fishing industry? And how can AMCC help?
I see the privatization of public resources as the greatest threat to the industry and free market. While jobs and access to the fisheries continue to shrink, the distribution of wealth goes into fewer and fewer hands. AMCC is working to keep opportunities in the industry open for generations to come.
What kind of fishing do you like to do?
My favorite kind of fishing is jigging. The freedom to explore and low impact of jig fishing on the resource and the environment make it an ideal way to harvest species which have been historically over-fished. Slow catch rates present opportunities for direct marketing while adding value to fish that are usually a low ex-vessel price.
Do you have a favorite fishing story?
This year’s Pacific Marine Expo will take place November 17–19 at the CenturyLink Field Event Center in Seattle. As the largest commercial marine trade show on the West Coast, more than 450 exhibitors come together to engage and network with buyers in their industry. With three full days of exhibits, education sessions, events and happy hours, this event is a must if you own a commercial fishing business.
Find AMCC in the Alaska Aisle- Booth #544
While you’re at the Expo, stop by AMCC’s booth in the Alaska Aisle #544. Renew your membership with our Expo special and get a Salmon Sisters halibut tee or Kleen Kanteen cup! Staff including our Executive Director will be there chatting about the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network, the impacts of ocean acidification on Alaska’s fisheries and more.
Young Fishermen’s Happy Hour, Friday Nov. 18th at 5pm
For the full show schedule, exhibitor list and more, visit: http://www.pacificmarineexpo.com/
Marissa Wilson hails from the seaside hamlet of Homer and has spent time on boats fishing halibut, sablefish, and salmon. Throughout her life, Marissa has always had a deep appreciation for the ocean and what it provides. Studies in anthropology and work in the nonprofit sector inspired her to turn what started out as a summer job into a lifelong commitment to preserve the ocean-dependent lifestyle that she and so many others hold dear. Marissa serves on AMCC’s Board of Directors as secretary.
How long have you been commercial fishing? What drew you to this work?
I am what is referred to as a “boat baby.” My connection to the ocean and a fishing lifestyle began at birth; even the prefix of my name, Maris, means “of the sea.”
How did you become involved with AMCC?
My involvement with AMCC is entirely thanks to former board member, Pete Wedin. It didn’t take long to bond over our love of halibut, and when the conversation turned to bycatch, Pete told me about the work AMCC did. I immediately felt a sense of duty to the organization.
What truly connects me to AMCC is the community of passionate, spirited ocean dwellers who dedicate themselves to the preservation of this deeply rewarding way of life. Even more than shared ideals, the strength of shared experience is deeply binding.
Why do you support AMCC’s work?
When a fisherman, a coastal resident or seafood consumer supports AMCC, they can expect the best from AMCC’s staff and volunteers. The sheer dedication of this entire group is an inspiration.
What really makes AMCC unique is its ability to address current and emerging issues in our state. With marine environments as variable and susceptible to change as they are, this is critical for the health of all. AMCC’s work is important to me because its core mission supports a way of life that has shaped me both physically and spiritually. Protecting Alaska’s wild fisheries is a no-brainer!
What is your most vivid fishing memory?
One of my favorite fish stories is actually a conglomeration of stories. I loved fishing from a very early age—standing in the rain, clumsily casting a pixie into the river; dropping a handline over the rail of our longliner; jigging for bait fish in the harbor—but when it came time to decide the fate of my wiggly prey, I buckled. Dad often had to deliver the mercy blow to the head as I walked away, teary-eyed, the hollow thud of a “bonk” punctuating my life choice. And then, we usually ate our catch. I realized, with time, that my love for fish never wavered through the process of turning life into life. I revered my harvest. That, I think, is the best kind of soul food.
What do you see as the biggest threat to your way of life as a small-boat commercial fisherman?
The number one issue facing Alaska’s fishing industry, in a nutshell, is a gap in perception of what our role is on this planet. Some see us as conductors of our environment, others understand we are simply a conduit in it.
What is your favorite kind of fishing?
My favorite kind of fishing is the kind that involves catching!