Local Tanner crab vessels steamed out of Kodiak and Old Harbor on January 18th, with high hopes for a successful crab season. We always leave that way, full of hope. Why else would we keep going out?
The winter Tanner crab fishery is somewhat unique in that it was designed with input from the community-based fleet. Fishermen wanted managers to factor in safety, equity, and conservation into how the fishery operates.
One way managers do this is by using the weather to dictate openings. If the daily weather update for the fishing grounds includes a gale warning, managers delay the fishery for 24 hours. Doing so provides for greater safety and equity in the fishery, as it is dangerous for smaller vessels to travel in rough weather with crab gear on their decks. While it may be an uncomfortable ride for an 80-foot vessel carrying 20 heavy crab pots out to the grounds, it is rarely life threatening. However, for a 42-foot shallow draft seiner, like our boat, it is life threatening and we would have to stay in town. Thus, without the weather stand down, the fishery could be harvested with by a handful of larger boats while the rest of the fleet is tied to the docks. Working together, the fishermen came up with a solution. This year, the season was delayed for three days due to gale winds clocked at up to 106 knots.
The fishery was also designed with input by fishermen to have a minimal impact on Tanner crab stocks. Crab pots can only be hauled from 8:00 in the morning until 6:00 at night, thereby reducing the mortality of discarded crab—those that are undersized or female. Minimizing the number of times a pot is hauled and therefore how often crab are handled reduces stress on the resource. The daylight-only requirement limits the exposure of discarded crab to colder temperatures in the night. Vessels are also limited to 20 pots, depending on the total allowable catch of crab, which serves to both minimize the impact of the gear on the crab and level the playing field. When the allowable harvest goes up, so does the number of pots the fishermen can use. When the total allowable catch is under 2 million pounds, the limit is 20 pots; as that catch rises, the number of pots allowed stair-steps all the way to 60 pots (when the allowable catch is over 5 million pounds. This year the total allowable catch for the Kodiak Island district is 400,000 pounds, and after a four-year closure due to low crab abundance, fishermen are supportive of the limit and just happy to be fishing.
In a town like Kodiak, which is sustained by fishing, there are few opportunities to make a living other than commercial fishing. As community-based fishermen dependent on the health of the fisheries resource to make a living, many fishermen advocate in the fisheries policy arena in support of sustainable fisheries and opportunities for the next generation. We work hard to share both our experience and knowledge of the industry with management bodies like the Alaska Board of Fish and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. Both of these bodies are set up to provide stakeholder input, and policy makers value the contribution of the fishermen to inform decisions. This process, coupled with the influence of strong science, has led to the world-class, sustainable fisheries that are found throughout Alaskan waters. I’m proud to call this state and Kodiak Island my home, and will continue to advocate for policies that sustain the stocks and provide other families the opportunity to make a living from the sea.
AMCC has re-opened the search process for an Executive Director after an initial first round of trying to identify our next leader. Outgoing Executive Director, Kelly Harrell, departed the organization after nearly 7 years at the helm.
AMCC is offering a rare opportunity to lead a thriving nonprofit organization supporting sustainable fisheries, marine conservation, and strong communities. For more than two decades, AMCC has been a respected force in advancing major policies and advocating for marine conservation. The successful candidate for Executive Director (ED) will demonstrate a strong commitment to this vision and have a proven track record as a highly effective and collaborative team leader with demonstrated fundraising skills. Under the direction of a dedicated Board of Directors and working with a highly accomplished staff, the ED will lead the organization into the next chapter of a successful history.
The ED will work with a dynamic board and staff to sustain and increase the capacity of the organization through strategic and annual planning to achieve the organization’s goals. The ED is responsible for all aspects of fundraising, fiscal and operations management, staff development, and program innovation and evaluation. The ED manages an organizational budget of approximately $1 million. The position is based in AMCC’s main office in Anchorage, Alaska. The salary range is $70-80,000, depending on experience.
Applications are being accepted now, and will be considered until the position is filled. Please see https://www.akmarine.org/who-we-are/our-team/jobs-and-internships/ for directions on how to apply and a more detailed description.
An Interim Director has been appointed while our search for a permanent E.D. continues. Our dedicated Board is committed to a successful transition and is working with staff to ensure the organization continues to fire on all cylinders.
It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for – the announcement of the 2017 AMCC Raffle Drawing Winners! Thank you to the hundreds of people who purchased a raffle ticket and supported our cause, your contribution will go a long way in helping us maintain healthy oceans and thriving coastal communities. Now, for the drumroll……If your name is on this list, we will be contacting you with instructions about how to proceed. Congratulations and, again, THANK YOU!
AMCC is excited to announce that the application period for Alaska organizations interested in hosting a fishing fellow in 2018 is now open!
If you are an organization working on marine and fisheries related issues please consider hosting a fishing fellow. The deadline for this application period is January 16, 2018. You can submit your application and short fellowship project description at: akyoungfishermen.org
In early 2018, we will select 3-5 organizations to host fellows in the upcoming year. Once we’ve selected host organizations and projects we will put out the call for applicants interested in serving as fishing fellows. AMCC provides each fellow with a stipend. Host organizations provide mentorship, guidance and hands-on learning and leadership opportunities.
You can find more information on AMCC’s Fishing Fellows Program and answers to FAQs here.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Nancy Lord, a founding member of AMCC and author of the new science-in-fiction novel entitled ph: A Novel.
pH: A Novel provides a futuristic account of Ocean Acidification through fiction and science. Nancy Lord has produced a unique work that brings ocean acidification to life in a way not many have attempted before. Lord and a few other authors (like Barbara Kingsolver and her book Flight Behavior) have ventured into the genre of science in fiction, as opposed to science fiction. In pH, Lord allows real science to intermingle with fictional characters. Using a bit of humor, Lord is able to take the rather daunting topic of Ocean Acidification and make it into an enjoyable read.
Lord has a Master of Fine Arts and is no foreigner to the field of Ocean Acidification. She has been a Homer, Alaska resident for 44 years, commercial fished for many of those years and was a founding member of the Alaska Marine Conservation Council. Her research for this novel included participation on a scientific cruise, attendance at an Ocean Acidification Conference in Monterey Bay, and extensive reading.
Lord had a vision to place her novel in the future, which made for an interesting battle with the fast-developing field of Ocean Acidification. It was almost as if it was a race between the scientists and Lord to see who could find the next piece of the puzzle first.
Even though pH is a science-based book, Lord has made this adventure accessible to all readers. This book is perfect for any reader who is interested in science but still enjoys a well told fictional story. The novel takes place entirely in Alaska, focusing on the Alaskan experience of science and the effects of Ocean Acidification.
The seriousness of Ocean Acidification is acknowledged in Lord’s novel, but she hopes that the main takeaway by readers includes some joy as well as learning. She has said, “The big problem is that the solution is so difficult. The solution is reducing our carbon emissions….we need to be adaptive and resilient.”
To find out more about Nancy Lord and any of her books, please visit her website:
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.
Parting can be such sweet sorrow especially when the loss is of a long-time, beloved, super-committed and energetic board member! Jon Zuck of Anchorage has served on the AMCC Board for 9 years and will complete his final term at our October board meeting. Jon has served as Board Treasurer as well as Board Chair several times during his tenure in addition to helping to lead our social enterprise and nominations committees. He has gone above and beyond for AMCC volunteering numerous hours and we are extremely thankful for Jon’s dedication and tremendous contributions. Read below to learn more about Jon and his long history in Alaska’s fishing industry. We are so grateful to Jon for being a part of our history here at AMCC!
How long have you lived in Alaska? If you were raised elsewhere, what brought you to Alaska?
I’ve lived in Alaska for almost 35 years. I was born and raised in New Jersey; attended college (Zoology) and graduate school (Environmental Sciences) in Ohio; worked with Battelle National Labs in Washington State and as a consultant in Seattle before making my way to Alaska. I first arrived in Alaska to work as a NMFS observer onboard Japanese longliners in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands. This was September 1981. I returned the following year as an observer and then joint venture representative on Taiwanese joint venture catcher-processors around Kodiak Island. I finally made the move to Alaska for good in July 1983. The mystique and uniqueness of Alaska, the vast wilderness and wildness, the open spaces, I believe, is what first attracted me to the state and has kept me here ever since.
Tell us about your connection to the ocean and Alaska’s wild fisheries. If you participate in a commercial fishery, please tell us about your fishery and gear type.
Working in the commercial fisheries in Alaska was a second career for me. While working as a NMFS observer and joint venture representative on Taiwanese, Japanese and Korean catcher-processors starting in 1981, I spent a total of 18 months at sea over a five-year period. Over the years, I’ve also fished for halibut in the Central Gulf (3A) and worked with local fishermen on St. Lawrence Island (4D) and gillnetted for herring at Togiak and in Norton Sound. In later years, most of my experience and time was spent managing fishing operations and working with local fishermen in western Alaska through the Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association and Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation, one of six Community Development Quota groups in western Alaska.
Why do you choose to support AMCC?
I’ve been a member of AMCC since the early days and on the Board of Directors for the past nine years. The fisheries – commercial, sport, subsistence and personal use – are the lifeblood of this state for all of us. AMCC promotes and advocates for healthy oceans, sustainably harvested seafood and viable coastal communities. AMCC is unique and a bit of a hybrid amongst conservation groups in that while advocating for conservation interests, it is also promoting and supporting responsible resource utilization in the fisheries. AMCC has a great track record for accomplishments and respected reputation with those involved in the fisheries.
What part of AMCC’s work interests you the most?
The fisheries conservation work at AMCC is of greatest interest to me. However, our work focused on access of the small boat fleet and young fishermen to the commercial fisheries and maintaining thriving working waterfronts are extremely important for the viability of economies of our Alaskan coastal communities.
What is your most vivid fishing memory?
It’s from one of my last trips working as a JV representative on Japanese boats during the pollock roe fishery in the mid-80s. Not a good memory but seeing mile after mile of pollock carcasses floating amidst the fleet during the roe fishery in the Bering Sea. This was before the ban on roe stripping and one of the reasons that I became so interested and focused on fisheries conservation in waters off Alaska. I also have so many good memories from nearly twenty-five years of working with local fishermen in communities throughout western Alaska. I’ll never forget fishermen in Savoonga on St. Lawrence Island hand lining for halibut in small 18 or 20-foot Lund skiffs, pulling in monster 7-8 foot halibut and then bringing their catch to shore by running their skiffs at full blast up and over the rocky beach.
What do you love most about fishing?
What’s not to love!?
How do you celebrate your connection to the ocean as an Alaskan?
Cooking, smoking, eating wild harvested Alaskan seafood as much as possible.
What do you love most about living in Alaska, or in your community?
I love being an Alaskan and bragging to people from Outside that I’m from Alaska! I continue to love all of those things that first attracted me to Alaska.
Where in Alaska would you like to visit or spend more time?
I’ve traveled and worked extensively in western Alaska, and live and spent lots of time in South Central. I think that would like to explore and spend more time in Southeast Alaska.
AMCC is re-opening the search process for an Executive Director after an initial first round of trying to identify our next leader. Outgoing Executive Director, Kelly Harrell, will be departing the organization October 15th after nearly 7 years at the helm. We will be announcing the appointment of an Interim Director in the coming weeks. We had hoped to find the right person for the job before Kelly departed, but we also know that this is a very unique position and filling this important role will take time and patience. Our dedicated Board is committed to a successful transition and is working with staff to ensure the organization continues to fire on all cylinders. The updated Executive Director job posting can be found here. Please share!
While the organization is entering a period of transition with this and other roles being filled, our core team and our work remain strong. We have some exciting developments underway this fall. In the coming month, we will be unveiling a new brand for our local seafood sales that will be tied into our fall offering. Stay tuned for exciting news and events around the launch and contact David Fleming, our Local Seafood Sales Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or to help out with the launch. Anchorage folks can still order Homer halibut now for the freezers.
October also kicks off the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) meeting season. Long-time AMCC staffer Theresa Peterson will step back into her role as one of 11 voting members on the Council. Deputy Director Shannon Carroll will also be back in action on the Council’s Advisory Panel. Both Theresa and Shannon will be attending the Council’s Ecosystem Committee meeting in Seattle next week. This will be Theresa’s first meeting after being appointed as co-chair of the committee in June. For more information on the Ecosystem Committee click here.
Theresa remains active in connecting rural communities around Kodiak on federal fish policy issues and is aiming to expand that role by engaging with western Alaska and other communities in the future.
Shannon has his finger on the pulse of Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) reauthorization and continues to serve in a leadership roles with both the Fishing Communities Coalition and Marine Fish Conservation Network. He recently delivered invited testimony on MSA at a Senate field hearing in Soldotna. You can view the video of that hearing here.
The Young Fishermen’s Development Program Act, a bill that would create a grant program to bolster the next generation of fishermen and was developed by AMCC and partners, is also gaining momentum in Congress. Stay tuned for how you can show your support for the Act. AMCC will be at Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle once again this year with more info on our fisheries policy work in Seattle so stop by our booth and say hello to Theresa and Shannon there!
Our Working Waterfronts Program led by Dr. Rachel Donkersloot is also moving ahead full steam. In October, Rachel travels to Santa Barbara to meet with researchers, fishermen and managers to advance work on better integrating well-being concepts into fisheries management through the State of Alaska Salmon and People initiative. At the same time, she is wrapping up a multi-year social science research project in collaboration with UAF and Alaska Sea Grant aimed at identifying barriers and solutions to supporting the next generation of fishermen. The Graying of the Fleet project is coming to a conclusion in the next few several months but exciting outreach products are being created like tips for beginning fishermen, PSAs, and short videos. Check out the project’s Facebook page here for tips and more to come.
The Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network (AYFN) is also in high gear under the leadership of Rachel. Five young fishermen from across the state will take on roles with host organizations this fall in the first cohort of AMCC’s Young Fishing Fellows Program. We are also gearing up to host a strategic planning retreat for the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network at the end of October. This gathering will bring together young fishermen from across the state to develop a future vision for the AYFN. After over a year of development, the first ever Young Fishermen’s Almanac will be published in December. The Almanac is a compelling compilation of tales, poetry, artwork and musings by young fishermen from across the state. We’ll be hosting launch parties and more to celebrate the publication and the role of the next generation in Alaska’s fishing industry and communities.
Rachel and Kelly will also be heading to Bristol Bay next week to help guide a workshop on seafood marketing and branding for students in the region. AMCC plans to continue partnering with the Bristol Bay Borough School District and others to grow the region’s first fisheries focused Career and Technical Education (CTE) training in the future.
Our ocean acidification kiosk moved to Cordova in August and can be found at the Cordova Center thanks to a partnership with the Prince William Sound Science Center. We’re continuing to work with the Alaska Ocean Observing System and other partners to connect fishermen and coastal residents to the science on ocean acidification. You can stay up-to-date by signing up for the Alaska Ocean Acidification Network here. Videos from the kiosk can be viewed here.
So while the makeup of our team is changing in the coming months, our vision, mission and commitment to addressing issues that impact the health of our fisheries and communities remains strong. Our team, our programs, and our work is as important and as active as ever. We thank our members and partners for your support that makes this work possible! Please feel free to reach out to any staff or board members with any thoughts or concern during this period. We are confident AMCC that we will weather this transition and come out stronger than before.
Like What We’re Up To?
- Join Our Team: AMCC is recruiting new board members to start terms in the fall or winter. Learn more about the responsibilities of board members and how to apply here.
- Make a Donation: We need your support during this time of change to keep doing great work that fills important niches. AMCC continues to embrace a unique approach to fisheries, ocean, community and economic health in Alaska. Make a contribution today if you think it’s important to keep these kind of efforts going!
AMCC Bids Farewell to Hannah Heimbuch & Jen Leahy; Hiring Two New Positions
AMCC is seeking two talented individuals to complement our current team: a Fishing Community Organizer and a Communications and Development Manager. Deadline to apply for both positions is Monday, September 18th; but apply early as the positions are open until filled.
AMCC bid farewell to Homer-based Community Fisheries Organizer, Hannah Heimbuch this summer. Hannah joined AMCC in the fall of 2014 and played an integral role in growing the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network, serving as a voice for fishing communities in Washington D. C., and engaging coastal residents on a wide range of issues from ocean acidification to fishing opportunities and bycatch reduction. We will miss Hannah’s creativity, character, and unrelenting wit, but we are thrilled to know that she will be able to spend more time on the water doing what she loves. Hannah will be focusing more of my energy on her fishing business and creative opportunities while continuing to support the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network as a steering committee member and volunteer.
In September, AMCC will also say goodbye to Communications and Engagement Manager, Jen Leahy. Jen has been with AMCC since early 2016 and has helped enhance social media engagement, improve our outreach materials, ramp up marketing for Catch of the Season, and increase our presence in Seward. The organization is restructuring this position back into a role based in Anchorage and responsible for both communications and fundraising functions from our main office. We thank Jen for her dedication to AMCC and her work during her time with us.