Did you know that AMCC’s Working Waterfronts Director, Jamie O’Connor, started out as a Young Fishing Fellow? She’s here to kick off our interview series with former fellows.
What was your Young Fishing Fellowship project?
I worked with the commercial fishing trade association down here in Homer, North Pacific Fisheries Association (NPFA), on a membership audit and community outreach. I called all of their members and got to interview them about their fishing lives, impacts on the community, and what they needed from NPFA. We then presented what we found to the Homer City Council and to the NPFA Annual Meeting. They also introduced me to the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council Process and took me to my first Alaska Young Fishermen’s Summit, and United Fishermen of Alaska meeting.
What was your most meaningful takeaway from the fellowship?
I made what I know to be lifelong friendships during my time as a fellow. For me, it was really an aha moment. I’ve been fishing my whole life believing that I’d have to grow up and hang up my slickers during the winter to support my habit. There was an uncomfortable duality there, being entirely fishy in the summer and then barely talking about it all winter as I went to school and worked in other industries. The fellowship showed me a winter gig where I could bridge my education and experience in communications and politics with my heart and life in coastal Alaska fisheries.
What are you working on now?
Now I run AMCC’s Working Waterfronts program working on fisheries access and policy and attend every NPFMC meeting to advocate for small-boat fishermen and conservation. You never know where the connections you make will lead.
Do you have advice for future Young Fishing Fellows?
The fellowships are really flexible, so once you’re hired work with your mentor to make the most of your skillset. Also, learn as much as you can from the host organization. There are so many groups doing important and fascinating work on behalf of our coastal communities and fisheries. Once you’re in you may never get out!
Now Accepting Applications!
The Application period is open for the Young Fishing Fellows program 2020-2021! For more information, please visit the Young Fishing Fellows FAQ page. Read more about this year’s hosts below, and fill out your application here. Applications are open until May 4, 2020.
Fishing Fellows serve as steering committee members for the Alaska Fishermen’s Network. This work will include; coordinating with AKFN on 1-2 events, communications, and planning the direction of the Network at 1-2 strategic planning gatherings and/or calls.
Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association, Sitka AK
ALFA is an alliance of small boat commercial fishermen committed to sustainable fisheries and thriving coastal communities. Under the leadership of the ALFA team, the Fishing Fellow will focus on the advocacy, policy, outreach and communication of ALFA’s programs.
North Pacific Fisheries Association, Homer AK
NPFA is a multi-gear, multi-species regional organization that represents fishermen and their families out of Homer, Alaska. The Fishing Fellow will learn from a highly engaged group of fishermen focusing on community outreach and the history of commercial fisheries in Homer.
Alaska Fishermen’s Network, Statewide AK
The Alaska Fishermen’s Network works to connect young and rising fishermen to resources and each other so that they may be successful in their careers and communities. The fellowship will focus on strategic planning for the next five years of the network and coordinate the steering committee.
Kachemak Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Homer AK
The KBNERR fellow will review and assist with the development of a citizen science forage fish project that will include information on chinook salmon diets in the Kachemak Bay area. The fellow will have an opportunity to assist with data collection of chinook salmon stomach contents using community-donated images, analysis of diet composition, and communication of the ecological implications of the science to various community members
Copper River / Prince William Sound Marketing Association, Cordova AK
Copper River / Prince William Sound Marketing Association is a regional seafood development association. A Fishing Fellow will work on the #FishingforAlaska public relations campaign to share the value of small-boat commercial fishermen to Alaska. The campaign currently consists of a website, ads running on the digital displays in the Alaska Airlines terminal at the Anchorage airport, print ads in Edible Alaska, and regular social presence on FB and Twitter with weekly sponsored posts targeting Alaska residents of voting age.
Homer Charter Association, Homer AK
The Homer Charter Association’s Fishing Fellow will work to reach a consensus between impacted user groups in halibut management area 3A ahead of the upcoming Catch Share Program Review at the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council.