young-fishermens-network

AMCC Staff Support Seafood Marketing Course for Bristol Bay High School Students 

Date Posted: October 26, 2017       Categories: AMCC Blog       Tags: Fisheries CTE Program, Young Fishermen's Network

bbpicfromseafoodmarketingclass

Last month, Working Waterfronts Program Director, Rachel Donkersloot, and outgoing Executive Director, Kelly Harrell, traveled to Naknek to help lead the first fisheriesCareer and Technical Education (CTE) program in the Bristol Bay region. In 2016, the four rural school districts in the region recognized the need to work collaboratively to better prepare youth to perceive and pursue commercial fishing opportunities in the region through development of a formalized region-wide fisheries-focused CTE program.The first step toward this end occurred in September 2017 with the launch of an intense week-long course covering safety and cold-water survival, seafood marketing and brand development, net hanging, and tours of local drift boats and setnet operations.

Rachel and Kelly led the seafood marketing and branding component of the fisheriesCTE program. This course provided an overview of 1) the role of Alaska seafood in the global economy, 2) current efforts in Alaska and across the nation to build brands and seafood markets and supply chains that bring greater benefits to fishermen (examples include Community Supported Fisheries), and 3) the opportunities, challenges and resources available to Alaska fishermen who want to direct market their catch.

Over the two-day course, students developed a seafood product and marketing pitch that they delivered to a ‘Buyers Panel’ who joined us near the end of day 2. Some of the value-added seafood products and brand names that students developed include specialty items like ‘Poppa Lox’ (salmon lox), Sonny’s sushi grade salmon, and T & O PetFood Co which offered high-end fish-meal based pet food products (one of our personal favorites). Students spent time perfecting their ‘seafood story’ and honing their public speaking skills as part of this course. It was a pleasure to spend two days with these eight brave, creative and committed students and to learn more about their lives and livelihoods. We are eager to see the Bristol Bay fisheries CTE program grow in the years ahead and thrilled to be a part of its early success.



Fisheries Policy Update: Summer 2017

It’s hard for many of us to keep up on what’s happening on the policy front during the long, busy days of summer. Fortunately, our fisheries policy guru Shannon Carroll has the latest on the Young Fishermen’s Development Act from D.C. and key takeaways from June’s North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting.

Young Fishermen’s Development Act

AMCC is extremely appreciative of 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, a bipartisan and bicoastal bill that would give fishing communities a needed boost by addressing steep and growing obstacles facing the next generation of America’s commercial fishermen. 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. The introduction of the legislation in both the House and Senate clearly reflects the Alaska delegation’s commitment to improving access to our state’s fisheries.

While we are grateful for the introduction of the bill, it is essential that we continue to build support for this important piece of legislation. 

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The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) met in Juneau this past month, and as always, the June meeting was busy.

Abundance-based management for Bering Sea halibut bycatch

The Council made tangible progress on the issue of abundance-based management (ABM), by providing further direction for the ABM workgroup related to the various indices of abundance under consideration. The Council also provided input on, among other things, the range of starting points and the types of control rules it would like to see it would like to see in the next discussion paper. Importantly, the State of Alaska, in making the Council’s motion, explicitly reiterated that it supported the development of ABM in a timely manner because it wants to rebalance the parity between the directed halibut fishery and the groundfish fishery, while also reducing bycatch and ensuring a directed fishery in the Bering Sea.

AMCC continues to view ABM as a means of providing a science-based approach to halibut bycatch management in the Bering Sea. The development of this policy has been slower than we expected; nonetheless, we see great value in ensuring that the foundation of the policy—the index of abundance—is well vetted and robust. At the same time, we also recognize that the root of this issue is the prioritization of the groundfish fishery bycatch over the directed fishery, particularly at low levels of halibut abundance. This is an essential element of this action and one that requires a timely resolution, as continued access to the halibut resource is of great cultural and economic significance to the communities in the Bering Sea. These two concepts—a science-based approach to halibut bycatch and reprioritization of the directed halibut fishery—are not at odds and we believe that the Council is on right path to accomplish both.

Central Gulf of Alaska Tanner Crab

After reviewing a discussion paper on existing federal protections for Tanner crab in the central Gulf of Alaska, the Council initiated a follow-up discussion paper that will provide data on flatfish trawl and pot cod fishing effort in specific areas off of Kodiak, as well as observer coverage rates in those areas.

The Tanner crab fishery is an important small-boat fishery for communities throughout Kodiak Island. The State of Alaska has closed the fishery for the last four years due to poor abundance of mature male Tanner crabs. While there are likely many factors involved in the recent low abundance of crab in Kodiak, AMCC supports the Council’s efforts to ensure that it has the data it needs to make informed decisions regarding habitat closures, bycatch limits, and observer coverage.  

North Pacific Observer Program

The Council made reviewed the observer program annual report, which provides a scientific evaluation of the deployment of observers so that the Council can assess whether the objectives of the Observer Program have been met. This review was done in the context of reviewing the 2018 Annual Deployment Plan and the renewal of the partial coverage observer contract. The Council expressed concerned over the levels of funding for the observer program, which have resulted in lower levels of observer coverage. To address these concerns, the Council tasked a subgroup of the Observer Advisory Committee to consider options to address low sampling rates in partial coverage, and a scoping of data concerns and potential solutions related to vessels delivering to tenders. The subgroup will report its findings this fall.

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As we look ahead to the October meeting, several policy priorities are emerging:

Abundance-based management for Bering Sea halibut bycatch

For the third meeting in a row, the Council will seek to make progress on ABM. The discussion paper for the October meeting will likely provide a significant amount of substantive information as the Council looks to begin selecting alternatives and options to move forward.

Bering Sea Fishery Ecosystem Plan

The Council will be taking a preliminary look at the proposed fishery ecosystem plan (FEP) for the Bering Sea. AMCC has been actively engaged and in support of the Bering Sea FEP. We believe that the FEP presents an opportunity to build more adaptive and resilient management processes that can better reduce bycatch, conserve important habitat, protect marine food webs, monitor ecosystem health, and evaluate the ecological, social, and economic trade-offs of different management actions. The meeting in October will be an important opportunity to help define the direction of the FEP in a way that can help achieve our shared fishery goals.

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Shannon Carroll is AMCC’s deputy director. 



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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Pick.Click.Give for healthy fisheries by March 31

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

The last day to Pick.Click.Give to your favorite Alaskan nonprofits is this Friday, March 31!

PCG_fb (1)You can still designate a portion of your PFD to AMCC, even if you’ve already filed. From the PFD home page, select the green “Add or Change Your Pick.Click.Give. Donation” button. You will be prompted to enter your name, social security number and date of birth. Once you click “Enter,” your PFD application details will show your charitable contributions to date and provide a button to change your contributions. Follow the prompts to add new donations. The average Pick.Click.Give donation last year was $108.

Participate in Pick.Click.Give by March 31 and you’ll be entered to win a cash prize equal to this year’s dividend! Ten lucky Alaskans will be selected to win when PFDs are distributed this fall. There’s never been a more important time to support Alaska’s nonprofits and defend our natural resources from exploitation. Thank you for helping to fuel our critical work!

 



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.



Growing the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network

Date Posted: January 27, 2017       Categories: AMCC Blog       Tags: Working Waterfronts, Young Fishermen's Network

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.

Young fishermen at IPHC’s annual meeting in Victoria. From left: Carina Nichols, Keith Bell and Peter Neaton.

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.

Young fishermen at the Network's Fishmas event in Homer in December.

Young fishermen at the Network’s Fishmas event in Homer in December.

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. 



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