Commercial fishermen have financial landscapes containing both unique challenges and opportunities. From seasonal cash flow & large, unpredictable boat expenses to corporate tax structures & small business ownership, our financial situations are far from the norm. The following tips have been compiled by a skipper, for skippers. Creating wealth as a fisherman takes skill. Preserving and advancing that wealth takes wisdom. I hope that the below gets your gears turning on how you can achieve the best financial future for your operation, your family and yourself.
“Depreciating an asset means deducting the cost of something you bought for your business, like a vessel, a permit or large machinery purchases.”
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
Depreciation is an often misunderstood topic, but extremely valuable to commercial fishermen. We have many opportunities to use this financial planning tool. In fact, it’s more like deducting or expensing, which is a topic that brings a smile to every business owner. Depreciating an asset means deducting the cost of something you bought for your business, like a vessel, a permit or large machinery purchases. Particularly relevant to fisherman is Section 179 of the tax code which allows for accelerated depreciation/expensing of up to $250,000 of an asset in a single year. Also of direct relevance, is the ability to depreciate fishing permits or quota. These are classified as intangible assets and can only be depreciated (via amortization) over a 15 year period. We will go over these figures in a case study below.
WHY DOES THIS MATTER?
The first and primary benefit is a direct reduction in taxable income for the years you depreciate, and thus a direct reduction in your tax burden for that year. The second reason to depreciate is because money has a time value. Money now is always more valuable than the same amount of money in the future. Depreciation means you have more capital at your disposal now, which means you can invest and reap returns in your operation, or in more traditional investments like stocks, bonds or real estate. The flip side to depreciation is that the cost basis of the asset is also reduced by how much you depreciate it, meaning that upon sale of said asset, your capital gain will be higher. Again, even though you have to pay later, the fact that you were able to use this capital sooner is extremely valuable. Also, you are moving whatever dollars you depreciate from being taxed at income rates in the present, to being taxed in the future at capital gains rates, which are usually more favorable.
To start his operation, Tom buys a boat for $250,000 and a permit for $150,000 in 2020. During his first season, his net income (after expensing and deducting smaller business items and paying crew) is $200,000. On his 2020 tax return, Tom can use Section 179 to accelerate depreciation on the boat for the dollar amount of $185,000, and amortize his permit for $15,000. This brings his taxable income down to zero. In future years, he still has $65,000 of boat value to depreciate (which could all be utilized in 2021 if desired) and can depreciate his permit $15,000 each year for the next fourteen years. Reducing his season’s net income of $200,000 down to zero saved Tom approximately $50,000 this year (if taxed at 25%).
Overall, having more money in the near term allows you to invest in your operation and continue to strengthen the Alaska economy. Perhaps the refrigeration system you can now afford also contributes to a higher market price for your product, thus improving the wider economic system.
Robert Seid is a financial advisor and Partner at Blue Summit Wealth Management, an independent wealth advisory firm in San Diego, CA. He also captains an Alaska commercial fishing vessel in Bristol Bay. His experience in both industries provides him the perspective to share financial guidance specifically geared for commercial fishermen. To learn more about how Robert and Blue Summit can help you and your operation succeed, please visit www.bluesummitwealth.com.
Robert started in the Bristol Bay fishery in 2011 as a green crew member, walking the yards to find his first opportunity. His love for nature and adventure found a home in Bristol Bay and, after his first year on the water, he was hooked. He has returned every year since and purchased his own vessel in 2019. As a skipper, his dedication to commercial fishing has only continued to grow.
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.
One of the many things coming into focus during these trying times is the need to strengthen our local food web. Luckily, Alaskans have some of the healthiest wild food on the planet swimming in our pristine waters. Catch 49 is committed to helping deliver that precious resource to your dinner table while doing everything we can to keep our team, customers, and community safe and healthy.
Starting Thursday, March 19th, the Catch 49 Distribution Center will shift to curbside seafood pickups only. Upon arrival at our Anchorage Distribution Center, please remain in your vehicle and contact us at 907-231-7213. Catch 49 team members will meet you outside of the shop at your vehicle and will load your shares of seafood directly into your vehicle.
We are also implementing shortened operating hours: Curbside seafood pickups are available Thursdays from noon – 3pm. If you have additional questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fill your freezer with delicious Copper River and Bristol Bay salmon, spot prawns, tanner crab, and more from Catch 49!
KODIAK, ALASKA, MARCH 12, 2020 — Current world-wide concern over the COVID-19 paired with the State of Emergency Declaration by Alaska Governor Dunleavy requires a reexamination of major annual events. An abundance of caution has led the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce ComFish Committee to postpone ComFish Alaska 2020 until September 17th-19th.
ComFish Alaska has been a leader of fisheries education delivering policy, technology, and scientific connections and networking for the last four decades. Postponement of ComFish Alaska allows both exhibitors and attendees the opportunity to enjoy the highest caliber trade show and forum schedule available without inhibition.
We look forward to welcoming all our exhibitors, speakers, and attendees to the Convention Center, Fishermen’s Hall, and Best Western Harbor Room in September. Still on the schedule will be the first ever Fisheries-Themed Fashion show, hosted in conjunction with the Kodiak Arts Council, as well as the tried and true Rockfish Taco Feed, Public Receptions, Processor Recognition events, and Fishermen’s Showcase.
Information will be updated as it becomes available at www.ComFishAK.com
|RELEASE MARCH 12, 2020|
Contact: Kodiak Chamber of Commerce Sarah Phillips Executive Director
Phone: (907) 486-5557
January 28th, 2020 marked a major victory for proponents of the Young Fishermen’s Development Act (YFDA) (H.R. 1240, S.496) as the House Natural Resources Committee approved the Fishing Communities Coalition (FCC)-sponsored legislation.
Championed by Reps. Don Young (R-AK), Seth Moulton (D-MA), and Jared Golden (D-ME), this nonpartisan legislation aims to address the graying of America’s fishing fleet through the establishment of the first federal workforce development program for commercial fishing in the United States.
“I had the opportunity to invest in commercial fishing in the 1980s. After three decades I can say with authority that things have changed. Nearly all the dynamics of running a successful commercial fishing business are more challenging; from the regulatory process to the technological changes to the overall business plan, it’s harder. The bill will support rising fishermen to get education, training, and mentorship to stay afloat,” says AMCC Fisheries Policy Director and commercial fisherman, Theresa Peterson.
Modeled after the Beginning Farmers and Rancher Development Program which aims to support young entrants as they endeavor to join an aging pool of food producers, the bill would institute the creation of a nationally sponsored Young Fishermen’s Development Grant Program. Through partnerships and collaborations with nongovernmental, community-based fishing organizations, and school-based fisheries, fishermen under the age of 35 will be eligible for education and training.
“Commercial fisheries look very different now than they did when my parents and grandparents entered the fishery. My generation is experiencing new barriers and uncertainties from increased political pressure from mining interests and large population centers, to climate change. A program like YFDA could help give us the tools and education to maintain involvement in our historic fisheries and improve workforce development resources for new entrants,” AMCC’s Working Waterfronts Program Manager / Policy Analyst Jamie O’Connor.
The bill, which has been making its way through D.C. since 2017, has deep ties to Alaska Marine Conservation Council’s “Graying of the Fleet” project. Conducted between 2014 – 2017, the project examined the social, cultural, economic and geographic factors impacting local participation in fisheries in the Bristol Bay and Kodiak Island regions. Lead investigator and former AMCC employee, Rachel Donkersloot, worked in partnership with the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Alaska Sea Grant, before presenting her findings nationally and internationally.
Among one of the more startling findings from Donskersloot’s investigation was the average age of Alaska fishery permit holders. In 2015, the average was 50, nearly 10 years older than in 1980. Additionally, the number of Alaska residents under the age of 40 holding fishing permits has fallen from 38-percent of the total number of permits in 1980 to 17-percent in 2013.
In an effort to support commercial fishing opportunities for new entrants in coastal Alaskan communities, AMCC led the charge for the creation of YFDA legislation with support from national partners involved in the Fishing Communities Coalition. Through advocacy trips to Washington D.C., collecting signatures, providing research, and encouraging Alaskans to write their lawmakers, AMCC has championed this legislation for years.
“Alaska’s economy and people are supported by our robust small-boat commercial fisheries, which anchor meaningful livelihoods for families in coastal communities and summon a diverse workforce in the processing sector. Our food systems need young harvesters. Consolidation of harvest opportunity is alarming beyond the implications on fishing culture – increasingly, we find our connection to nutritious food outsourced to entities that have no direct accountability to the people they feed or the ecosystems that sustain their operations. Young harvesters see this happening and, in spite of daunting forces beyond their control, are starting businesses to address the issue. The Young Fishermen’s Development Act addresses a real need for a workforce that is critical for Alaska’s future, and AMCC will continue to be its champion,” says AMCC’s Interim Executive Director, Marissa Wilson.
In early February, the Council met in Seattle and covered a diverse range of topics in fisheries management.
The Council adopted additional charter halibut management measures for 2C and 3A. It also recommended a series of restrictive actions to reduce charter halibut harvest in the two regions based on allocation recommendations to the charter sector after the International Pacific Halibut Meeting in February.
The Council discussed Halibut Abundance Based Management in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands (BSAI) and received stakeholder input on methods to streamline the process of linking halibut bycatch to halibut abundance. The Council focused the proposed action on Amendment 80 (A-80) fleet which is made up of BSAI non-pollock catcher processors (bottom trawlers) and is responsible for about 60% of the BSAI halibut bycatch.
In addition, the action will consider an element that factors halibut bycatch at times of low abundance, when the coast-wide biomass of halibut falls below a spawning stock biomass of 30%. The analysis is scheduled to come back to the Council for the initial review in October. In the interim, a discussion paper is scheduled to come back to the Council in June which will focus on breakpoints to consider high, medium and low halibut abundance, performance metrics and incentives for the A-80 fleet to reduce bycatch, and a mechanism to further reduce the halibut bycatch limit in years of low directed halibut harvest limits in areas 4C, D, and E in the Bering Sea and the Aleutian Islands.
The Council will look at reducing halibut bycatch in other trawl fisheries through another action on the agenda in June. A limited access program for the BSAI trawl limited access fishery includes elements to reduce the amount of halibut bycatch allowed, regardless of abundance, and thus the Council limited the scope of abundance-based management to the A-80 fleet.
The Council reviewed the development of two action modules based upon recommendations from the Bering Sea Fishery Ecosystem Plan. One module to develop protocols for use of local knowledge, traditional knowledge and subsistence in fisheries management and another to develop a plan to evaluate short to long term effects of climate change on fish, fisheries and the Bering Sea ecosystem. The work plans for these important issues in ecosystem-based fishery management are under development by two task forces which then make recommendations to the Council.
“The resources provided at that Summit proved invaluable to me, and looking back I realize that that experience truly validated my decision to continue commercial fishing in Alaska. It served as the catalyst to my involvement in not only Cook Inlet fisheries management and policy, but to my future as an activist for salmon conservation issues.”GEORGIE HEAVERLEY – COOK INLET DRIFTER
I attended my first Alaska Young Fishermen’s Summit in Anchorage in 2017. I graduated from college earlier that year, returning to Kenai each summer to fish with my dad and brother. I was at a crossroads in my life at that time, unsure if I would leave Alaska to pursue a career in the west coast tech industry or remain in Alaska, drift gillnetting Cook Inlet with my family and fighting for the future of our highly politicized fishery.
The resources provided at that Summit proved invaluable to me, and looking back I realize that that experience truly validated my decision to continue commercial fishing in Alaska. It served as the catalyst to my involvement in not only Cook Inlet fisheries management and policy, but to my future as an activist for salmon conservation issues.
I bought a Cook Inlet drift permit at the beginning of 2019, finally becoming a stakeholder in the fishery that has been in my family for over 50 years. Buying a permit is only a piece in the journey to form your own small business on the ocean, and I knew I would need to eventually form a plan for the future purchase of a boat, how I would maintain my vessel, how to run my crew, and everything that venture entails.
The 8th annual Young Fishermen’s Summit was held in Juneau this year, coinciding with the start of the state legislative session. The Summit, organized by the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program, provides the opportunity for young fishermen to gain the information and expertise required to manage a career in the commercial fishing industry. The event provides information related to buying and financing a boat and permit, how to expand your fishing operation through creating a business plan, managing record keeping and taxes, safety and training, direct marketing, and navigating the federal and state fisheries regulatory process. Most importantly, the Summit provides the opportunity to network with industry professionals and fellow fishermen from around the state.
This year’s keynote speaker was Jim Hubbard. Jim has been fishing in Alaska in some form or another for over 45 years, and has been direct marketing seafood for the past 30 years. Not only does Jim have experience in multiple fisheries, he has been involved in fisheries management and policy, both on the federal and on the state level. Jim spoke to us about his extensive experience in Alaskan fisheries, how the fisherman lifestyle can take a toll on your family, the importance of properly managing your finances, and how passion for the work you do is one of driving forces behind success.
The first day of the Summit focused on the business aspects of commercial fishing. Industry representatives from investment and banking companies, insurance and accounting firms spoke to the particulars of financing your operation and the financial decisions you have to make along the way, such as securing insurance and proper tax preparation. Representatives from the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, the McDowell Group, and even a seafood retailer from the Pacific Northwest gave an overview of how Alaska fits into the domestic and global seafood market. The day ended with a fun and informal reception at a local brewery, where participants could continue to network with the speakers from that day.
The second day provided an introduction to the fisheries regulatory process, both in the Alaska Board of Fisheries and the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council (NPFMC). ADF&G staff were there to answer questions along with John Jensen, who happens to be a member of both the Board of Fish and the NPFMC. Receiving this information was particularly important for me, as the Upper Cook Inlet Board of Fisheries meeting begins the first week of February. Aside from discussing how to participate in the regulatory process, there were speakers there to provide information about getting involved with your fishery’s trade organization, regional seafood development associations, harbor boards, and ADF&G advisory committees.
That afternoon Summit attendees took a trip to the Auke Bay Laboratory, a facility that conducts scientific research on marine ecosystems, including stock assessments of several species of fish in Alaska. This research is provided to the National Marine Fisheries Service, the NPFMC, and other related organizations to help these entities properly manage our fisheries. We watched presentations about ocean acidification and climate change, and then got to tour the genetics lab and see other research projects being done. It was particularly interesting to see the fisheries regulatory process come full circle: how decision makers receive the science and information they need to make informed management decisions.
That evening there was a reception at the Twisted Fish, complete with a hearty spread of appetizers and full bar. Legislators from Alaska’s coastal communities were invited to attend, so Summit participants could have the opportunity to meet and network with our representatives, both in small group settings and one-on-one. I met several representatives from the Kenai Peninsula, where I grew up, and got to touch base with many I had met before.
The following morning we walked over to the Capitol building, where we first met with a panel of coastal legislators including Ben Stevens, Chief of Staff to Governor Dunleavy. We then broke into groups to meet our local representatives and then got to sit in on some of the House Fisheries Committee meeting. Myself and three other fishermen from the Anchorage area met with Senator Mia Costello, where we discussed issues we felt were most important to our industry, including the importance of funding the Alaska Marine Highway and how vital it is for our coastal communities, the Cook Inlet east side setnet buyback program, and generally advocating for the future of the commercial fishing in Alaska.
After meeting legislators we had the choice to participate in one of three different workshops: buying and selling vessels and the maintenance required of them, marine safety issues, and a mock Board of Fish exercise. I chose to attend the Board of Fish workshop, as I am actively involved in preparing for the Upper Cook Inlet meeting in February. Those of us who participated got to practice giving public testimony and even acted as Board members ourselves to learn about the deliberation process.
“I think that’s the perfect way to sum the experience at the Young Fishermen’s Summit in Juneau: we move forward with pride for our way of life, a plan for business endeavors, motivation to get involved, and to not let that “fire in our bellies” burn out.”GEORGIE HEAVERLEY
At the end of the day, attendees had the opportunity to say a few words about their experience at the Summit. A drifter from Cordova stood up and with sincerity told us all that before now he had never been involved in advocating for his fishery, had never paid attention to the policy decisions being made about it. He continued on by saying he now plans to get involved, that he feels like he has “a fire in his belly,” and he’s ready to join the effort. I think that’s the perfect way to sum the experience at the Young Fishermen’s Summit in Juneau: we move forward with pride for our way of life, a plan for business endeavors, motivation to get involved, and to not let that “fire in our bellies” burn out.
The Alaska Young Fishermen’s Summit once again proved invaluable for me. I strongly encourage any commercial fishermen that are starting out in the industry, who have big dreams to run their own operation, and who want to get involved but don’t know how to attend this conference. The people you meet there are those you will maintain relationships with for the duration of your career and beyond, and those you will stand side by side with as you advocate for our fishing future. Because that’s exactly what we are – the future of this industry. And if we don’t fight for it, who will?
AMCC and AKFN are proud to have sponsored Georgie’s trip to Juneau last month and look forward to working with her and her new friends as they advocate for themselves and their communities in the years ahead! Please find more information on Sea Grant and future Alaska Young Fishermen’s Summits here.
The Alaska SeaLife Center (ASLC) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2020 Alaska Ocean Leadership Awards. These awards are given annually to individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the awareness and sustainability of the state’s marine resources. The Alaska SeaLife Center appreciates the support provided by the award sponsors and thanks the awards committee members (Betsy Baker, Jason Brune, Lisa Busch, Dale Hoffman, Molly McCammon, Robert Suydam) for their assistance in selecting the award recipients. These awards will be presented at the in Anchorage Alaska Marine Gala on February 8 at the Dena’ina Center and/or at the Alaska Marine Science Symposium on January 27-31.
The following are the 2020 Alaska Ocean Leadership Award winners:
Molly McCammon will receive the prestigious Walter J. and Ermalee Hickel
Lifetime Achievement Award. The late Governor Walter J. Hickel and his wife Ermalee endowed this award for 10 years to recognize individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the management of Alaska’s coastal and ocean resources for more than 20 years. Molly has worked tirelessly to promote the long term sustainability of Alaska’s coastal and ocean resources, and find creative solutions to meet the needs of Alaskans. Molly came to Alaska in 1973, first as a reporter covering a variety of natural resource issues, then homesteading in the Brooks Range, and later working in various fields in state government. Her service to marine conservation began in 1984 as a legislative aide working on the wild fishery stock priority policy and the new community development quota program. At the Alaska Department of Fish & Game, Molly worked on salmon management issues and on legislation strengthening Alaska’s response and prevention efforts following the Exxon Valdez oil spill. From there, Molly served as Executive Director of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council for nine years. As Executive Director, Molly managed the largest research and monitoring program in the state, with one of her many accomplishments being the installation of annual, multi-disciplinary conferences focused on marine research. These conferences were initially funded by EVOS, and over time, have evolved into the annual Alaska
Marine Science Symposium that continues today. Her leadership and work for the Trustee Council directly contributed to many significant research programs that provided a comprehensive understanding of marine ecosystems of Prince William Sound, creating a baseline for evaluation of any future oil spills as well as the dramatic changes in the ocean we are seeing now. In 2003, Molly organized and launched the Alaska Ocean
Observing System where she continues to serve as its Executive Director. Molly has direct involvement in the actual development and running of regional coastal and ocean observations systems. She has taken a leading
national role in developing the Integrated Ocean Observing System on a regional level and established the national IOOS Association. Throughout her career, Molly has worked effectively for positive solutions that meet the needs of Alaskans, and, at the same time, foster the conservation and wise use of Alaska’s natural resources, especially its fisheries. Her contributions have made a lasting difference for marine conservation in Alaska.
Alaska Wildland Adventures will receive the Stewardship and Sustainability Award. This award is sponsored by Jason Brune, and honors an industry leader that demonstrates the highest commitment to sustainability of ocean resources. Since 1977 and under the leadership of Kirk Hoessle, Alaska Wildland Adventures has operated natural history tours exclusively in Alaska, providing high quality, interactive experiences in wild Alaska. At the heart of this company’s culture is the strong respect for the environment and unique native heritage of Alaska. AWA recently celebrated its 10th year of operation of the Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge, which was born from a collaborative partnership with Port Graham Native Corporation. The lodge was created to support community goals of the corporation’s Native residents while also creating an environmentally-conscious lodge to host small groups of Alaskan tourists each summer. It is a solid example of positive stewardship and sustainability in Alaska, from its low impact construction methods, to working with local government agencies to create and maintain the Pedersen Lagoon Wildlife Sanctuary that protects native flora and fauna, to supporting the local marine community of Seward. Alaska Wildland Adventures puts a strong emphasis on hiring, shopping, and transporting locally which contributes to the sustainability of the Seward community.
Dr. Switgard Duesterloh will receive the Marine Science Outreach Award. This award is given to a person, team or organization that has made an outstanding contribution to ocean literacy via formal or informal education, media or other communications. It is sponsored by the Alaska Ocean Observing System. Dr. Switgard Duesterloh created the Ocean Science Discovery Lab in Kodiak in 2009 and has run several programs for students grades 3-12. She offers science summer camps in Kodiak Island villages and in the city of Kodiak. Her programs include a diverse study of marine biology from food webs to sea otter ecology to sea star experiments, dissections, oil spill history and response, various oceanography experiments, and more. Dr. Duesterloh is inclusive and creative with her students. During the past year she has partnered with the Island Trails Network, a local nonprofit that does beach cleanups throughout Kodiak. She works tirelessly to raise awareness of the problems associated with plastic pollution. Currently, she is organizing a spring Whale Festival, a program inviting the community to partake and recognize Kodiak’s unique position in whale migrations. She also writes a column in the Kodiak Daily Mirror, educating the community about life in the ocean.
This year, the Awards Committee named two recipients for the Marine Research Award: Carin Ashjian and the Alaska Beluga Whale Committee. This award is sponsored by Drs. Clarence Pautzke and Maureen McCrea. This honor is given to a scientist, team of scientists, or an institution that is acknowledged by peers to have made an original breakthrough contribution to any field of scientific knowledge about Alaska’s oceans.
Carin Ashjian has contributed important insights to marine research and significantly advanced leadership in shaping marine science programs in the Arctic and Bering Sea for the past two decades. Her substantial expertise in oceanography, zooplankton ecology, and biological-physical interactions focusing on Arctic and sub-arctic regions has advanced our understanding of these systems, and how lower trophic levels respond to the physical environment and connect to higher trophic levels. One specific example of her boundary-straddling work is her decade-long work around Utqiaġvik where she and her colleagues Steve Okkonen and Bob Campbell focus on the oceanographic mechanisms that produce a favorable feeding environment for bowhead whales, a species of imminent subsistence and ecological value. Carin has worked to communicate the results of her research to Alaskan coastal communities and local hunters. Carin has been published in top-ranking journals and has made continued significant contributions to Arctic and sub-arctic marine science. That her work and expertise is well-known and important beyond regional scales is exemplified by her involvement in international programs, most recently the interdisciplinary MOSAiC program that explores Arctic processes throughout an entire year on a ship-based platform frozen into the sea ice.
The Alaska Beluga Whale Committee (ABWC) serves as the co-management partner with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association for four stocks of belugas in western and northern Alaska. Since its creation in 1988, the committee has encouraged and promoted the conservation and informed, sustainable management of beluga whales through collaboration of Alaska Native subsistence hunters, biologists, and agency managers. They have initiated and continue management of this important resource and conduct scientific research on belugas to address management needs. At the time the ABWC was formed, there was little precedent for hunters and scientists working together. Now the committee brings representatives from beluga hunting communities in Alaska; local, state, tribal and federal governments; and beluga researchers together to discuss management and conservation issues, the biology of belugas, and the needs for additional information. Because of this committee, there is now information on the annual harvest of belugas since 1988, population estimates, satellite tracking of belugas, and sampling for genetics from approximately 2,500 beluga whales. The information and transparency shared by the ABWC provide assurances to Alaska, the U.S., and the international community that belugas in western and northern Alaska are being well managed.
Fran Ulmer is this year’s recipient of the Ocean Ambassador Award. The Ocean Ambassador Award recognizes an individual or organization that has made outstanding contributions in promoting public awareness and appreciation of Alaska’s oceans, coasts, and marine ecosystems. Fran Ulmer’s legacy of public service spans over 40 years and is still going strong. Her achievements reflect an exceptional contribution to management of Alaska’s coastal and ocean resources, a commitment to community, and first-hand appreciations for Alaska’s unique people and resources. Fran has had a significant impact in terms of coastal and ocean public policy. As the first director of the Alaska Coastal Policy Council, she was instrumental in the early formation and development of Alaska’s coastal management program. As a mayor, legislator, and lieutenant governor, she advocated for responsible use of the marine environment by Alaska’s growing tourism and cruise industry, as well as commercial and recreational fisheries. She was a strong voice for the careful management of Pacific Ocean fisheries as a commissioner on the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission for over a decade. Her advocacy for enhancing relevant science and policy research as Chancellor of the University of Alaska Anchorage continues beyond Alaska, as a Visiting Professor at Stanford and now a Senior Fellow at Harvard. As chair of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, she has ensured that the U.S. maintains a strong focus on marine research and has built collaborations with other nations across the Arctic to ensure that activities in the Arctic are conducted in an environmentally sustainable manner. Fran lectures internationally about the rapid changes happening in the Arctic, why people everywhere should care, and why conservation of our oceans is essential to everyone’s wellbeing.
About the ASLC
Opened in 1998, the Alaska SeaLife Center operates as a private, non-profit research institution and public aquarium, with wildlife response and education programs. It generates and shares scientific knowledge to promote understanding and stewardship of Alaska’s marine ecosystems. The ASLC is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. To learn more, visit www.alaskasealife.org.
Like many Alaskans, my childhood was marked by a fascination and unrelenting love of the water. Whether it was the feel of a coho striking my pixie lure in the Eyak River as a child, or the exhausting satisfaction of longlining for halibut with my father in my teens and twenties, Alaska’s waters played an integral role in developing my sense of self. But it wasn’t until 2013 when I started deckhanding for former AMCC board member, Pete Wedin, that my path as a fisherman-conservationist became clear.
After finishing a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from the University of Washington, I returned to Homer to find work that connected me to the community. Working as a charter deckhand for Pete was a departure from my commercial fishing upbringing—indeed, it was practically treachery.
But seeing the thrill and wonder on the faces of clients as they struggled to reel in their first fish confirmed that the act of harvest satisfies a basic human desire. We are meant to know our food, to understand its story, and ensure its ability to nourish our loved ones. I realized that my role as a commercial harvester and stakeholder in management policies needed to accomplish that feat as well.
The summers I have spent in rubber boots and rain gear did more than shape my shoulders and bank account—they honed my focus. Today, as we are confronting the jarring reality of climate change by witnessing dramatic changes in our oceans and rivers, I find myself called to share a message from the water: the tide has turned. Our ability to predict what’s coming has been muddled, and the tide rip we find ourselves in is full of obstacles.
Fortunately, in the six years I have served on AMCC’s board, I have witnessed the power that a dedicated group of passionate individuals can have in navigating challenges together. From affecting policy change in bycatch reductions to establishing the Fishing Fellows Program, AMCC has been at the forefront of efforts to protect the integrity of Alaska’s waters.
In my new position as AMCC’s Interim Executive Director, I find myself fiercely motivated to not only continue the organization’s robust mission, but to amplify it. I am eager to support the ideas Alaskans have for adapting with our changing climate, through diversifying their small businesses and identifying projects that support their communities and coastlines. I want for this time of transition and uncertainty to be characterized by fearlessness and celebration, hallmarks of Alaska’s hardworking fishermen. I want to double down on what motivates us all.
I look forward to the successes this year is sure to bring, and am thrilled to help shape the future of AMCC.
AMCC Interim Executive Director
“The Alaska Young Fishermen’s Almanac Volume II,” is the second installment of the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network with support from the Alaska Marine Conservation Council and the Alaska Humanities Forum. The almanac features art, stories, advice and more from young fishermen across Alaska.
The Almanac is a first-of-its-kind cultural touchstone that communicates and celebrates our unique, shared and cherished fishing ways of life. The Almanac project captures the ingenuity, persistence, humor, and passion of the next generation of community and fishing leaders in Alaska and conveys the importance of community-based fishing livelihoods.
By buying an Almanac you are supporting the development of educated and engaged young fishermen and helping them to take on leadership roles within their communities and fisheries.
Alaskans love sharing a good fish story. We are famous for it, and often with each retelling, the size of the fish and direness of the circumstances increase. Fish tales are fun to share. The impacts of climate change on our region are not. The stories of what we are experiencing in Alaska need no embellishment.
A group of Alaska women involved in commercial and subsistence fisheries traveled to Washington D.C. this month to share the magnitude of change we have seen first-hand. As fishermen living in remote areas, interacting with the natural world harvesting fish, we see things that others don’t. Our relationship with our respective regions run deep, often spanning decades and generations. The change we are seeing is happening now, and we feel a responsibility to bring awareness to the degree of change we are experiencing in the Northern United States.
Alaska fishermen are innovative, resourceful, and willing to act to maintain resilient fishing communities. Storytelling and first-hand experiences help to bring awareness to our policymakers, influencing actions to address climate change. We will keep talking; we must. Our future is at risk. Fishing communities nationwide need policies that help fishing livelihoods adapt to rapid change and work together to mitigate carbon emissions contributing to climate change. We all need to act, and perhaps those of us coming from the North, where the conditions are shifting the fastest, can help others understand what’s coming.
“In Alaska, we have left behind the days of discussing climate change in hypothetical terms. As coastal communities, as small business owners and people intimately connected with the landscape, we are witnessing what can only be described as systemic and unprecedented change — in terms of its speed and scale. Dry stream beds and die-offs, erosion, and mass fish migrations; these are the stories we brought to Washington, D.C., along with requests for practical steps to help our coastal communities and fisheries stay resilient in the face of sweeping change.
It is more important than ever that our federal leaders support fishery and oceanographic research, community infrastructure that bolsters resiliency efforts, and policy processes that integrate considerations for climate change impacts. We need management processes agile enough to adapt and thrive with those impacts, and rigorous enough in its standards to conserve at-risk stocks, habitats, and food webs. It is an honor to be a storyteller for our northern ecosystems, helping to connect what we’re seeing on the grounds to these long term policy needs for our regions and nation.”
From Hannah Heimbuch, a second-generation fisherman from Homer and Senior Consultant with Oceans Strategies.
“Our family business is unique in that we set net using pickup trucks to work our gear from shore. Historically, sea ice protected our gravel and bluff from the Bering Sea winter storms. That’s no longer the case. We’re seeing decades of our former rate of erosion disappear in mere years. And while the current temperatures are positively impacting our salmon runs, we’re headed for a tipping point when our fish can no longer adapt to changing conditions. I am grateful for the opportunity to bring these stories back to D.C., where we can help inform policymakers as they tackle these complex issues, and look forward to working with them to make our fishing communities adaptable and climate-ready.”
From Jamie O’Connor, fifth-generation set-netter from Bristol Bay and Working Waterfronts program manager and policy analyst with the Alaska Marine Conservation Council.
“Just this year, we had multiple, unusual wildfires in my region. Our creeks were the driest that many residents had seen. Incidentally, these last few years have also had the largest recorded sockeye runs. I’m told that the heat has actually motivated these runs. But what of the other creatures that we are seeing suffer in our regions? I haven’t seen the caribou migration for over 15 years, and while commercial fishing this summer, we caught dozens of dead shearwaters in our nets. Some of the changes could be natural, and some could be unnatural. But I believe it’s safe to say that civilization has been at fault in the past, so why not again this time? For the wellbeing of our fisheries and local biology, we must continue to adapt.”
Mli Lundgren, second-generation Bristol Bay drift-netter and subsistence fisherman.
“This summer on Kodiak Island felt apocalyptic. As I flew the length of the island in August, streambeds normally bubbling with salmon were bone dry, reminding me of a desert wash. After 40 days of no rain and unprecedented heat, the northern rainforest was shriveling up, and our salmon dependent livelihoods felt extremely vulnerable. Processors were running out of reservoir water, leaving them down to only a few days of the water needed to continue to process fish. Smolt released from salmon hatcheries died, unable to live in the warm waters. Remote fish sites were out of water, hauling drinking and washing water in by hand. The fish were stressed and unable to enter the streams they were bound for due to lack of water and high water temperatures, which influences salmon movement. The salmon were exhibiting behavior no one had seen before. Sunburned pink salmon were repeatedly jumping out of the water in the mouth of the rivers. Along beaches, red salmon were traveling deep, seemingly seeking cooler temperatures as they traveled under nets while sunburnt fishermen on deck watched. Those who live in the last frontier are now living on the front lines in a changing climate. Harvesters and managers must be ready to change course under these conditions, and we all need to work together to influence policies that reduce carbon emissions and support measures that help coastal residents weather abrupt changes to our livelihoods and traditions. We need to provide adequate funding to the National Oceans and Atmospheric Association and the National Marine Fisheries Service to provide the monitoring, fish surveys, stock assessments, and research to provide the best science possible to guide management practices. We need to continue to come to policymakers in D.C. from Alaska homes and paint a picture with our words. We did just that last week, and it was clear our stories resonated in each of the offices we met with. Keep talking, Alaskans, our voices matter.”
Theresa Peterson, a commercial fisherman from Kodiak, Alaska, and Fisheries Policy Director with the Alaska Marine Conservation Council.
“The Alutiiq people have inhabited the Kodiak region for at least 7,000 years. Recent years have brought a series of events that, once considered unprecedented, have become the new normal. These events include drought, flooding, forest fires, multiple record heat waves, seabird, and marine mammal die-offs, irregular fish returns, warm climate, invasive species, and extreme fish mortality. The Alaska Federation of Natives declared climate change a state of emergency in Alaska at the 2019 Convention and reinstated its Climate Action Leadership Task Force to advocate for strong climate policies. I came to Washington D.C. to help others with less interaction with the natural world we call home in Alaska to share my experience and offer myself as a resource.”
Natasha Hayden, P.E., Kodiak Island Native Alaskan, subsistence and commercial fisherman, Registered Professional Engineer, and the Director of Lands & Natural Resources for the Afognak Native Corporation.
Every fisherman has their account of how our warming environment is impacting their fishery, business, and community. Thank you to the offices that met with these fishermen to hear theirs.
AMCC is grateful to the many generous businesses and individuals—
including our great team of volunteers—who made our inaugural Bore Tide Boogie possible! We want to say an extra special thank you to
Jodie Anderson for serving as our amazing emcee for the evening.
Thank you Sponsors
Thank You Contributors
60 North Seafoods
AK Starfish Co.
Alaska SeaLife Center
Allen & Petersen
Bear Creek Winery
Blue Market AK
Boardwalk Pub & Grill
Broken Tooth Brewing
Cabin Fever Gifts
Central Suites of Seldovia
Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies
Dark Horse Coffee
From the C
Fromagios Artisan Cheese
Mount Roberts Scenic Tramway
Patty & Dave Hamre
Salty Lady Seafood
Seldovia Bay Adventures
Seldovia Boardwalk Hotel
Side Street Espresso
The Crabby Fisherman
True North Kayak Company
Trustees for Alaska Staff
Van’s Dive Bar
Victorinox Swiss Army
Weston and Kelly Smith
Wild Honey Bistro
by Clem Tillion, Halibut Cove courtesy of Seafood News
I sat on the North Pacific Fur Seal Commission; it was created in 1910 to manage and protect the fur seals of the Pribilof Islands. I’m one of the few Commissioners still around, and I’m still devoted to helping the communities of the Pribilofs survive – and thrive. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council has the chance this week in Homer to protect the fishermen of St. Paul and St. George Islands in the Pribilofs, and many more, by protecting the halibut they harvest from the Bering Sea.
Historically, residents of St. Paul Island, most of whom are Unangan (Aleut), were conscripted by the Russian and then the United States Government in the commercial fur seal harvest. After the commercial fur seal harvest was phased out in 1983, St. Paul Island’s residents turned to commercial fisheries for their survival, with the encouragement of the US and State governments. The Pribilofs are the only Aleut region that does not have access to salmon, so the islands were granted all the halibut Community Development Quota (CDQ) in the management area surrounding them (4C). This, in turn, justified critical federal, state, local, and private infrastructure investment. Examples of these investments, which were built in part to support the halibut fishery, include the Small Boat Harbor, concluded in 2010 at a cost of almost $21 million, and the Saint Paul Harbor, which with recent improvements totaled almost $100 million.
In addition to the harbor investments, St. Paul upgraded and built a number of infrastructure facilities and utilities critical to the development of a fisheries-based economy, in which the development and pursuit of a halibut fishery weighed heavily. A bulk fuel farm; an outfall/sewer utility; water and electric utilities; a landfill; airport and road upgrades were all built over a period of 40 years at a considerable cost to the public and to the community. These investments are in the range of $30-40 million. Much of the debt on this infrastructure is still owed by the City.
All in all, over $150 million in public funds were invested on St. Paul Island after 1983 to help develop a fisheries-based economy and provide local fishermen with the infrastructure to develop and pursue the halibut fishery. Individual fishermen in turn invested their families’ futures in boats and equipment and halibut quota, and developed a thriving local halibut fishery.
The halibut fishery is currently the primary source of employment and income for St. Paul residents. Of the 391 residents of St. Paul Island, 75 participate directly in the CDQ/IFQ halibut fishery in the summer months, and depend on a viable halibut fishery for their livelihoods and survival. This figure—which includes 14 to 16 fishermen/vessel owners who each hire an average of 5 to 6 crewmembers and baiters per vessel—represents more than 35 percent of the St. Paul Island’s working-age population.
Numerous other residents of St. Paul are employed in businesses that provide support services to the halibut fishery and fleet, including fuel, storage, groceries, and catch processing and packaging. Like the fishermen, these individuals are also directly dependent upon a viable and economically sustainable halibut fishery. No source of employment is more important to the economic prosperity of the community’s residents. Unfortunately, the income generated and the participation in the local halibut fishery has fallen in the past five years to below the long-term average, as the halibut resource has declined.
St. Paul Island’s reliance on the halibut fishery is not limited to direct employment in the fishery itself. St. Paul Island is a unique community that has the largest concentrated population of Unangan and Unangam Tunuu (Aleut-speakers) in the world. As such, halibut is an important and culturally significant subsistence fishery that is key to St. Paul Island’s cultural and psychological wellbeing.
Moreover, the fishermen/vessel owners who are engaged in the directed halibut fishery are the community’s only small business owners. They are the source of economic opportunity, as well as the community’s political and business leadership. The opportunities in the halibut fishery have also attracted some younger residents back to St. Paul Island, and their children help sustain the St. Paul School. St. Paul Island’s halibut fishermen are the community’s compass holders.
Unfortunately, St. Paul Island’s economic and cultural base is in jeopardy yet again. Having transitioned its economy to halibut with the US Government’s sponsorship, the same government’s failure to place appropriate and necessary limits on halibut bycatch (Prohibited Species Catch or PSC) now threatens to deny the people of St. Paul Island continued access to the resource they were encouraged to depend upon.
From 2012 to the present, the groundfish fleets in IPHC areas 4CDE (much of the Bering Sea) have caught as bycatch in their target fisheries – and discarded as waste – more halibut than the fleet that catches halibut commercially.
Specifically, bycatch mortality in this period has been two and a half times the amount of directed halibut mortality.
The North Pacific Council has been working for four years on a new way to manage halibut bycatch, based on halibut abundance. All groundfish and salmon fisheries in the state and federal waters off Alaska, and the directed halibut fishery, are managed on species abundance. Salmon PSC limits are driven by salmon abundance.
The Council is charged with developing a program for responsible management of halibut bycatch. The groundfish harvesters must be bound by the same principles as directed users. When halibut abundance declines, commercial and sport halibut limits go down. Bycatch limits should also go down, protecting the halibut-dependent peoples and communities of the Bering Sea.
Photo Credit: choja/iStock/Getty Images Plus
North Pacific Fishery Management Council to meet in Homer
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council kicks off meeting season in Homer Sept. 30 for the first time since 1983. This meeting will be both an opportunity for those who have been unable to attend in the past to participate, and for policymakers to hear from coastal community residents.
Community Engagement Committee
The NPFMC Community Engagement Committee will meet at Lands End from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 1 to review Council engagement strategies and practices and to develop recommendations to improve engagement with rural and Alaska Native communities.
BSAI Halibut ABM
The “Halibut Capital of the World” serves as an ideal backdrop to discuss the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands Halibut Abundance Based Management (BSAI Halibut ABM). The action would link the amount of prohibited species catch (PSC), or bycatch, limits in groundfish fisheries to halibut abundance. Currently, halibut PSC limits are a fixed amount, so when halibut abundance declines bycatch limits remain the same while the amount of halibut apportioned to directed halibut fisheries decreases. This will be a major item up for discussion at this meeting and we encourage anyone interested to attend the Council on Thursday and Friday, Oct. 3-4. Fishermen, please reach out to AMCC Fisheries Policy Director Theresa Peterson for more information on how to get involved.
Local Seafood Summit
The third Local Seafood Summit will be held at the Redd on Salmon Street campus in Portland, OR Oct. 6-7. The Summit celebrates the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of small-scale, community-based seafood businesses committed to strengthening our local, regional, and national food systems. AMCC staff Katy Rexford, Director of Catch 49 and AMCC board member Darius Kasprzak will be attending the summit.
The Adapt Kodiak workshop will be held Oct. 24-25 at the Afognak Native Corporation on Near Island to discuss the challenges and opportunities for Kodiak residents to build community resilience in the face of a changing climate.
AMCC Heads to Pacific Marine Expo
Save the Date! The Pacific Marine Expo is just around the corner November 21st -23rd at the CenturyLink Stadium in Seattle. The largest and longest-running commercial tradeshow on the West coast will include marine exhibitors, events, informational forums and an opportunity for those involved in the maritime industry to network. Stay tuned for more details and be sure to come visit the AMCC booth, #4322, in the Alaska Hall.
Homer Harbor Tours with Jim Herbert
An introduction to the Port of Homer’s economy, history, future plans, Homer marine trades, electronic monitoring and visit vessels from different sectors.
Look for a gentleman in a lime green vest with a white beard standing outside of the Salty Dog Saloon.
Friday, October 4 at 5:30pm and Saturday, October 5 at 5:30pm.
For the past 25 years, AMCC’s dedicated staff and volunteers have worked to promote healthy ocean-dependent coastal communities while protecting the integrity of Alaska’s marine ecosystems.
To mark the occasion, we will be hosting the Bore Tide Boogie: A Celebration of Healthy Oceans & Coastal Communities on November 9, 2019, from 7:00 – 10:00 pm at the Anchorage Museum.
This festive community gathering will feature high-quality Alaskan seafood from AMCC’s own Catch 49 sustainable seafood brand—prepared by local celebrity chef Laura Cole of The Muse; live and silent auctions; a live band and dancing.
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council finished up the meeting season in Sitka, following the tradition to hold the June meeting in an Alaskan coastal community. The beauty of the region and the warmth of the Sitka community provided a meeting venue for fisheries management discussions that was truly spectacular. This was the last meeting for outgoing Council members Theresa Peterson and Buck Laukitus and the Alaska Longline Fishermen Association hosted a seafood extravaganza, beachside, bonfire reception which was quite fitting for the Alaskan fishermen. AMCC would like to express special thanks to the many groups who contributed to the event: Alaska Longline Fishermen Association, Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust, Sitka Seafood Producers Cooperative, Sitka Sounds Seafoods, Icicle Seafoods, Oceana, Halibut Coalition, Ocean Conservancy, Silver Bay Seafoods, Sitka Salmon Shares, Alaska’s Own and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.
In addition to the kind words and a ‘Boots on Deck’ photo capturing Theresa’s advocacy for active fishermen and resilient Alaskan coastal communities, Theresa was honored to receive the Bobby Storrs award from the Unalaska Native Fishermen’s Association (UNFA). UNFA created the Bobby Storrs award to honor the memory of a friend who was the original Bering Sea small boat lifestyle fisherman’s advocate. The award is given once a year to those who have raised awareness of the value of the small boat lifestyle, are active in finding solutions to preserve a way of life and support the backbone of our coastal communities, the small boat fishermen.
The Council meeting covered a broad scope of issues which included Bering Sea/Aleutian Island crab management, Gulf of Alaska cod and pollock seasonal allocation adjustments, approved action module work plans for the Bering Sea Fishery Ecosystem Plan and initiated an expanded discussion paper identifying mechanisms to develop an Access Pool for the halibut and sablefish fisheries that facilitates entry-level opportunity.
I’m proud to present the Alaska Marine Conservation Council 2018 Impact Report to you. This brief report highlights our work from the past year—successes we could not have accomplished without you.
Our efforts are straightforward—to protect the integrity of Alaska’s marine ecosystems and promote thriving coastal communities. Increasingly, the challenges we face to achieve this mission are incredibly complex, requiring comprehensive solutions that involve intense interaction in diverse communities.
AMCC has remained focused, with work through two key program areas: Fisheries & Marine Life Conservation and Working Waterfronts. Our fisheries conservation work engages in the North Pacific Fishery Management Council process and 2018 was highlighted with the adoption of the Bering Sea Fishery Ecosystem Plan. Our Working Waterfronts programs engage fishing families and coastal residents and businesses through our Alaska Fishermen’s Network with over 700 members. This network helps us bring a shared voice to local, state, and federal issues including the Young Fishermen’s Development Act and the potential reauthorization of the Magnuson Stevens Act (MSA).
Finally, our Catch 49 sustainable seafood enterprise has brought quality Alaskan seafood to Alaskans, creating more opportunities for small-scale fishermen and providing a steady supply of local seafood. This program continues to expand the species it sources, as well as the communities, served.
But we cannot and do not accomplish our work alone…fishermen and coastal residents are confronted with rapidly changing oceans and fisheries policy and it is your support that allows AMCC to understand and address these dramatic changes.
We are grateful to you—our members, partners, and allies—across Alaska and the Lower 48. Thank you again for all of your support.
P.S. To stay up-to-date throughout the year, be sure to sign-up for our monthly e-newsletter.
Conserving Fisheries & Marine Life:
Critical Effort to Protect the Bering Sea Advances
The Bering Sea encompasses over 770,000 square miles of productive marine waters in the North Pacific Ocean. More than 50 coastal communities in the region depend on their resources to sustain their way of life. Countless fishermen from around Alaska and the Lower 48 count on it for their livelihoods. But the Bering Sea—and all who rely on it remaining healthy—are at great risk of its unparalleled wild fisheries being depleted due in large part to a rapidly warming climate that is accelerating the loss of sea ice and ocean acidification. These are unprecedented challenges requiring comprehensive solutions.
One way AMCC accomplishes its mission is by working with our partners and allies to advance policies at the regional and federal levels that promote the health and resilience of Alaska’s fisheries and marine ecosystems. One of AMCC’s highest priorities in recent years has been to advance a Fishery Ecosystem Plan (FEP) for the Bering Sea to protect its wild fisheries, ecosystems, and communities. A FEP serves to strengthen fisheries and ecosystem management in marine environments controlled by the Federal Government.
One of the most significant achievements of 2018 occurred in December when the Bering Sea Fishery Ecosystem Plan (BS FEP) was adopted by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC). This critical document guides Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management for these waters—a way to manage fisheries that considers how all pieces of an ecosystem work together.
AMCC staff member Theresa Peterson serves as co-chair to the Ecosystem Committee (EC) which advises the NPFMC on ecosystem related matters. The EC provided extensive input toward the development of the BS FEP over many meetings and many years; most of their recommendations were accepted. Theresa conveys the importance of the plan:
“The Eastern Bering Sea is an amazing ecosystem experiencing change at an unforeseen rate. The region has provided sustenance to those living adjacent to its waters for thousands of years and the knowledge embodied in the Native culture provides insight beyond Western science. The BS FEP provides guidance for the NPFMC to better utilize all information sources and paves the way for a comprehensive approach to fisheries management.”
AMCC is proud to have influenced the final plan and will work to be a part of the next phase—developing “Action Modules” to evaluate the effects of climate change on the Bering Sea and create protocols for incorporating Traditional Knowledge into decision-making.
Longtime staff member Theresa Peterson was promoted to Fisheries Policy Director in 2018. Theresa, a commercial fisherman from Kodiak, continues to be meaningfully involved with the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.
AMCC bid farewell to Working Waterfronts Director, Rachel Donkersloot, in 2019. Rachel was a lead on the award-winning Graying of the Fleet research project, which made a tremendous impact on Alaska’s coastal communities. We are thrilled she is staying connected to the organization as a consultant.
Sustaining Working Waterfronts:
Alaska Fisherman’s Network Member Spotlight
Meet JJ Larson, Captain of F/V Lucille
JJ Larson is from Dillingham, a fishing community in Southwest Alaska, and from a long line of fishermen. His mom captained her own boat and his grandma was a set netter. JJ is the third generation of his family to captain the Lucille D, which was named for his aunt. It was originally owned and captained by his grandfather, then his dad. Today, after nine years at the helm, JJ is buying it from his grandmother. The Lucille D is more than a fishing boat to JJ, it represents a way of life he is proud to carry on, and eventually share with his son.
JJ joined the Alaska Fishermen’s Network (AKFN) in 2018. Now over 747 members strong, AMCC started the AKFN in 2013 to empower the next generation of fishermen to become effective advocates for Alaska’s wild fisheries, coastal communities, and conservation. Through such principles as mentorship, stewardship, and accountability, the AKFN creates opportunities for young and rising fishermen to develop skills and connections, build resilient businesses, and be positive members of their communities—all things JJ values.
“Through the AKFN, I have an opportunity to network as well as learn more about the business side of fishing—like the different policies and regulations that affect it, finances, and more. A lot goes into being the captain of a boat. You can be a great fisherman, but without an understanding of the business, you are less likely to succeed.”
AMCC was fortunate to have JJ travel to D.C. with staff recently to advocate for the Young Fishermen’s Development Act. They attend- ed 22 meetings in three days to garner support for creating the first federal program to support workforce development for young fishermen. JJ’s leadership and perspective were invaluable, and the trip had an impact on him too. “It was empowering to see firsthand where and how the laws that affect my ‘little corner of the world’ are made and gave me greater confidence to advocate for the future of our fisheries and my community.”
Jamie O’Connor started as AMCC’s Fishing Community Organizer in 2018 and was recently promoted to Working Waterfronts Program Manager and Policy Analyst. A lifelong Alaskan and commercial fisherman from Dillingham, she has since put down roots in Homer. Jamie participated in AMCC’s first class of Young Fishing Fellows in 2017—an effort she is now proud to coordinate along with the Alaska Fishermen’s Network.
Our Community Supported Fishery
2018 marked seven years since AMCC launched its sustainable seafood enterprise, recently rebranded as Catch 49, in an effort to help coastal communities thrive by creating a direct market for their livelihoods. Every year the program gets stronger and last year was no exception.
- Increased the total pounds of seafood sold over the prior year, and the number of households served to more than 750.
- Secured two major wholesale clients—North Star Quality Meats and Princess-Holland America Lodges—each of which has the potential to significantly increase Catch 49’s output and amplify our message to a broader audience.
- Created branded seafood labels reinforcing the traceability of each species sold, which helps to strengthen our message that knowing your fisherman ensures the highest quality, healthiest, most sustainable seafood available.
A direct impact of Catch 49 can be seen in the coastal communities from which we buy seafood, like Cordova, a fishing community of 2,300 residents on the Prince William Sound. Only accessible by boat or plane, Cordova continues to be heavily impacted by the 1988 Exxon Valdez oil spill, changing ocean conditions altering fish populations, and threats of budget cuts to the Alaska Marine Highway.
In 2018, we developed new relationships there, by purchasing coho salmon from two young fishermen, Tyee Lohse and Hayley Hoover, and by utilizing a fisherman-owned local processor, 60° North Seafoods, for our first-ever fall coho salmon offering. By purchasing seafood directly and processing it at local facilities, AMCC helps keep profits in coastal communities, which in turn supports other local businesses including artists, transporters, and more, further expanding our impact.
Katy Rexford joined AMCC as Director of Catch 49 in July 2018. She earned a B.A. in Political Science from Vassar College and served for eight years as a Program Director for the California League of Conservation Voters. Between 2011 and 2018, Katy split her time between Alaska and Hawaii, founding and operating a music education business in Hawaii and teaching music in rural Alaska. She moved to Alaska full-time in 2017.
AMCC Member Spotlight:
Meet Our Dedicated Supporters
Longtime AMCC member Vicki Clark recently completed her final term on AMCC’s Board of Directors, including one year as Chair. We are grateful to Vicki for the expertise she brought to the board and for her dedication to our mission. We asked her recently why she values AMCC. Here is what she had to say…in her own words.
What inspired you to become an AMCC member?
I wanted to be Jacqueline Cousteau and went to school for marine biology. I got the degree but decided to go on to practice environmental law, thinking I could make a bigger difference protecting habitat and clean water that way. Today I serve as executive director for Trustees for Alaska but I love the marine environment and was missing that connection. I know the great work AMCC does—in fact, I did legal research on Individual Fishing Quotas for AMCC when I was an intern at Trustees back in 1994. Knowing something about organizational governance, in 2013, I joined the board, which was a great place to use my skills and feed my desire to help.
Why do you think AMCC’s work is important?
Humans are mismanaging our fisheries resources around the globe. It is so important to have well-informed and dedicated advocates to work to protect those resources, and AMCC has amazing members and committed staff to do it!
What would you tell someone to encourage them to become a member today?
If you care at all about clean water, healthy oceans, and fish on your table, AMCC is one of the best investments you can make to protect what you care about.
Welcome and Thank You Board Members
AMCC is happy to welcome two new members to our board of directors: Melanie Brown of Juneau and Josh Wisniewski of Seldovia. Melanie works as an Organizer for Salmon State and commercial fishes for salmon in Bristol Bay. Josh is a small-scale commercial harvester, a subsistence fisherman, and an anthropologist.
We give heartfelt thanks to outgoing board members Vicki Clark and Ellen Tyler. We are grateful for their years of service to AMCC and their steadfast dedication to the mission.
Thank You, Valued Members and Partners!
Marine Fish Conservation
Nell Newman Foundation
Pew Charitable Trust
True North Foundation
Robert Bundy and
Joel and Greta Cladouhos
Brian Delay and
Dan Hull and Nancy Pease
John and Rika Mouw
Jon and Stephanie Zuck
Tanner Crab $250-$499
Evelyn Abello and Karl Ohls
Dorothy and Bob Childers
Jay Nelson and
Tom and Ann Rothe
Rolan and Jo Ruoss
Frederick and Laurel
Betty and Fred Bonin
Harvey and Nan Goodell
Harvey Goodell and
Claire Holland Leclair
Amanda Piatt and
John and Mary Pat Sisk
Floyd Tomkins and
Roberta Austring and
Mary Lou Kelsey
Mary Lisa Paesani
Catherine and Joseph
Pacific Cod $25-$49
Mike and Lora Laukitis
Norman Van Vactor
Thank you to the photographers and businesses who
contributed to this report!
Haines, courtesy of Haines Packing Company | Bering Sea FEP Map, courtesy of the NPFMC | Larson Family & Crew, courtesy of JJ Larson
Diving with Sharks, courtesy of Vicki Clark
Hayley Hoover, courtesy of Copper River/Prince William Sound Marketing Association
Happy New Year from Catch 49! As the daylight returns, we’re looking forward to a great year of seafood offerings in 2019. To kick it off, we are thrilled to offer Kodiak Tanner crab, harvested by Capt. Charlie Peterson, F/V Patricia Sue, statewide starting January 7th!
This short ordering period closes on January 20!
Catch 49 and small-boat, conservation-minded fishermen work together to bring Alaskan seafood lovers the beautiful, sweet, and rich species: Kodiak Tanner Crab! Tanner crab – Chionoecetes bairdi – are carefully managed and only harvested once a year in the Kodiak District of the Gulf of Alaska if there are enough crab for commercial harvest. In fact, 2019 will be only the second time in six years that this fishery has been open. In addition to this crab’s superb taste, it adds diversity to Kodiak’s small-boat fishing region. We are proud to offer this unique crab species that provides crucial income to many fishing families and adds an economic boost to the town.
We will also be offering delectable Homer Pacific halibut and sablefish, harvested by Captain Erik Velsko on the F/V Dangerous Cape. And, we still have gift cards available for those hard-to-shop-for friends and loved ones. Gift cards are available in values ranging from $50-$200 and are redeemable for any 2019 offering.
You can pick up your crab, halibut and sablefish in Anchorage or Fairbanks during the first weeks of February. Place your order and keep an eye on www.catch49.org for details. Don’t miss your chance to secure your share of Alaska’s finest wild seafood!
AMCC is a grassroots organization working statewide to stimulate progress and solutions to protect marine habitat, minimize bycatch, and promote viable, community-based fishing opportunities. We’re also working to increase consumption of locally harvested sustainable seafood and at the same time, increase profitability of Alaska’s small-boat fishing operations.
AMCC’s members include fishermen, business owners, conservationists, marine scientists, working families, and others who share concerns about ecosystem and community sustainability and the significant impacts of human activity on Alaska’s oceans. AMCC’s diverse Board of Directors is made up of Alaskans – many of them fishermen – from coastal communities spanning the state from Southeast to the Bristol Bay.
AMCC’s niche in advocating for smart solutions for fisheries and community sustainability has never been more important. AMCC will continue to catalyze meaningful progress with the support of Alaskans like you. Our fisheries are our most valuable resource and we hope to support their health and support fishing opportunities for Alaskans far into the future.
One way you can help us maintain the integrity and intrinsic value of Alaska’s coastal communities and ecosystems is by choosing to give through Pick.Click.Give. We’d appreciate your support.
In 1992, with support from the Alaska Conservation Foundation, Nevette Bowen, a community organizer and fisherman, traveled coastal Alaska to listen to the marine conservation concerns of commercial, recreational, and subsistence harvesters, and coastal residents. A consensus emerged from these coastal voices and with it, the creation of the Alaska Marine Conservation Council (AMCC). In 1994, AMCC was founded as a voice for long-term, community based marine conservation. Since that time, AMCC has remained steadfast in its commitment to ensuring the role of local coastal residents in decision-making processes, and addressing growing threats to Alaska’s marine ecosystems, including high levels of bycatch, destructive fishing practices, and offshore drilling with insufficient consideration of fisheries resources and habitats. The work of AMCC is guided by the core principle that people are part of, and depend on, healthy and diverse marine ecosystems and are responsible for maintaining these ecosystems.
Excerpt from “Making Waves for 24 Years – The Alaska Marine Conservation Council” by Theresa Peterson, ONCORHYNCHUS, XXXVIII, 1-2; 5-6. (Click link to download newsletter.)
Have you met Jamie O’Connor yet? AMCC is so happy to welcome her! She hit the ground running and is already in the swing of things.
Fishermen, pilots, and a noisy librarian raised Jamie in Dillingham, Alaska just north of the family set-net operation, where they’ve harvested salmon for six generations. She earned her B.A. of Journalism and Public Communication at the University of Alaska Anchorage, gathering diverse experience in corporate communications, independent film, and community theater projects. She then served Alaskans in Washington D.C., building Senator Dan Sullivan’s front office and internship program before running back to Bristol Bay with the sockeye. Jamie has since put down roots in Homer, where she participated in AMCC’s first class of Young Fishing Fellows. She joined the AMCC staff in October of 2018. She coordinates the Alaska Fisherman’s Network and supports our fisheries conservation projects. While fish consume the majority of her life, Jamie is also a certified yoga instructor, writer, and traveler. Her favorite thing in our wild world is to make connections — to nature, and to people. And she is excited to continue that work with AMCC.
“Graying of the Fleet in Alaska’s Fisheries: Defining the Problem and Assessing Solutions”
The Graying of the Fleet research project won a national award at Sea Grant Week hosted in Portland, Oregon last month. The Sea Grant Association’sResearch to Application Award recognizes notable Sea Grant funded research that elevates public understanding and responsible use of the nation’s ocean, coastal or Great Lakes resources.
The Graying of the Fleet study examines barriers to entry into Alaska commercial fisheries in Bristol Bay and Kodiak Archipelago fishing communities. The research team consists of UAF faculty, Courtney Carothers, AMCC’s Working Waterfronts Director, Rachel Donkersloot, retired Alaska Sea Grant director, Paula Cullenberg, and UAF graduate research assistants, Danielle Ringer and Jesse Coleman. UAF undergraduate student, Alexandra Bateman, also contributed to the study. Alaska Sea Grant and the North Pacific Research Board provided funding for the project.
The three-year study includes a global review of potential policy responses to the graying of the fleet in Alaska in the report: “Turning the Tide: How can Alaska address the ‘graying of the fleet’ and loss of rural fisheries access?” The research team also recently released two journal articles. Another article is currently under development.
“We’re honored that our work has received this recognition,” said AMCC staffer Donkersloot. “From the outset we have worked to meaningfully share project findings with a broad audience. Our team gave more than 60 presentations over the course of this project in local, state, federal and international venues. Last summer we worked with long-time fishermen and industry experts to gather advice that we shared via Public Service Announcements during the fishing season. We are hopeful that our work will continue to inform fisheries policy and better support the next generation of Alaska fishermen.”
The team has also created seven short videos featuring advice to new and young fishermen that are available on the project’s website and the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network website. The final report is available at the North Pacific Research Board’s project database. Other project materials and reports are available at fishermen.alaska.edu.
AMCC’s Catch 49 Program is offering Copper River coho salmon in 10-lb, 20-lb or 30-lb shares, with ordering available online on Catch 49’s website until close of day on September 30, 2018.
- Wild Copper River Coho (silver) Salmon
- 8-12 oz portions
- Skin on, pin bone in, vacuum-sealed and flash-frozen
- Carefully caught and impeccably handled
- Processed by fishermen-owned 60 North Seafoods
- Available in 10-, 20-, and 30lb shares
- Caught by Hayley Hoover of the F/V Obsidian and Tyee Lohse of the F/V Free Ride
Copper River coho, also known as silver salmon, are widely known as the finest coho anywhere in the world due to their high oil content and firm, robust flesh. Averaging about 12 pounds each, Copper River cohos arrive in late August and September, and signal the close of Alaska’s fresh summer season. Kodiak jig rockfish, wild Alaska sablefish (black cod), and Norton Sound red king crab are also available.
Catch 49 offerings are only available in limited quantities for a limited time. If you are not on our e-mailing list and would like to join it so you can be notified about Catch 49 offerings, please email email@example.com and ask to be added to the list. Please visit www.catch49.org to see current offerings.
Modernizing Fisheries Management Should Benefit All Sectors
By Shannon Carroll and Susie Zagorski for Fisherman’s News
For more than forty years, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) has utilized a precautionary science-based approach to fisheries management. This approach has led to some of the most sustainably managed fisheries in the world. A key component to this success has been the use of exempted fishing permits (EFPs), which have incentivized innovation, improved sustainability, and developed lasting partnerships between industry and managers.
It is surprising, then, that some members of Congress are seeking to limit the use of EFPs. As introduced, Senate Bill S. 1520 — the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017 — does just that by making the EFP process so onerous that it is unlikely to be used in any region. In doing so, S. 1520 will inhibit the ability of industry and managers to pilot new and creative improvements to managing fisheries.
Read the full story here.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
White House Seeks To Eliminate Critical Program
The White House released its preliminary 2018 budget proposal on March 16. As reported by The Washington Post, the Trump administration is proposing massive cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) budget. Included in those cuts is the complete elimination of the Sea Grant program.
Losing Sea Grant would have profound negative impacts on Alaskans. Alaska Sea Grant represents a unique partnership between NOAA and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. For more than 46 years, the program has supported healthy coastal resources, strong economies, and vibrant communities in Alaska through research, education, and outreach. What does this mean in terms of on-the-ground action? Here are a few examples of Sea Grant’s work in Alaska:
- FishBiz Program: This program provides financial and business tools for fishermen, ensuring those looking to get into, remain, or sell out of a fishery have the tools to do so effectively.
- Training Alaska’s fishing workforce: Sea Grant provides Alaskan fishermen with education and training on essential topics such as vessel safety and maintenance, fuel efficiency, refrigeration, direct marketing, and permitting. It has also hosted the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Summit, which has provided critical training to more than 350 young fishermen.
- Mariculture investment: Sea Grant has invested more than $2.5 million in research and outreach in support of Alaska’s growing mariculture industry.
- Practical Research: Sea Grant leads research that addresses coastal community priorities, including the “Graying of the Fleet” project that is working to identify and find solutions to barriers to entry for the next generation of fishermen.
NOAA’s budget will ultimately be decided by a congressional budget resolution. Congress typically makes changes to the president’s proposal, so now is the time to let your representatives know how important Sea Grant is to Alaskans. Senators Sullivan and Murkowski have gone on record opposing the cuts to NOAA’s budget, but it’s still critical that they hear from you about maintaining federal funding for Sea Grant.
Please call your Congressional representative. Phone calls carry more weight with legislators than emails. Listed below is the contact info for each office, along with talking points to guide your call.
- I’m calling today to let [elected official] know that I oppose the president’s proposed cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), specifically the elimination of the Sea Grant program.
- Sea Grant directly contributes to job creation and economic development, the core functions of the Department of Commerce. In Alaska, Sea Grant offers valuable technical assistance to our seafood industry, which employees 60,000 Americans from across the country.
- Federal funding of Sea Grant goes a long way. Each dollar Sea Grant receives in federal funds is multiplied threefold through strategic partnerships with the University of Alaska and other grant funders.
- I personally value [name Sea Grant program or service that is important to you, such as the Young Fishermen’s Summit, the Graying of the Fleet research project, food preservation workshops, educational materials and trainings, etc.]. Click here for more information about Sea Grant’s workshops, trainings and programs.
- Again, I urge [elected official] to maintain funding for Sea Grant in NOAA’s 2018 budget. Thank you for your time.
Office of Senator Lisa Murkowski
Contact: Ephraim Froehlich
Office of Senator Dan Sullivan
Contact: Erik Elam
Office of Representative Don Young
Contact: Mike DeFilippis
By Shannon Carroll
Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) was recently named chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard for the 115th Congress. The subcommittee, among other things, is responsible for addressing matters that concern federal fisheries; it will be a key player in the ongoing effort to reauthorize the Magnuson Stevens Act (MSA). The Senate has yet to introduce a MSA bill, despite the House passing a bill in 2015, but rumors have been circulating that a draft bill is in the works.
AMCC believes strongly in the MSA. Its record speaks for itself: Since 2000, fishermen and managers have rebuilt more than 40 stocks nationwide, while Alaskan stocks under its jurisdiction have thrived since Congress passed the act. We are therefore hesitant, under the current political climate, to advocate for wholesale changes to the law. In our view, many of the issues facing Alaska and other regions could be addressed through increased funding for key programs such as at-sea monitoring, stock surveys, and enforcement; better use of existing funds; and improved application and enforcement of current laws and regulations.
Should the Senate decide to reauthorize the law, we are excited to have Senator Sullivan carrying on the “Alaska legacy” by taking a leadership position the process. Since Congress enacted the law, Alaska has always played a lead role in shaping our nation’s fisheries. Under Alaskan leadership, each reauthorization has been a bipartisan effort to improve the sustainability of our fisheries through reforms based upon science and stewardship. And, because of the lead role that Alaskans have played in the process, reauthorization always been an opportunity to directly address the issues facing Alaskan fishermen. In short, each reauthorization of the MSA has made fisheries management better for Alaskan fishermen.
To date, Senator Sullivan has proven to be advocate for Alaska’s fishermen, passing legislation that addresses illegal and unreported fishing, while also working to prevent others from undermining the MSA. This track record hopefully indicates the Senator’s willingness to carry the Alaska legacy by putting fish, fishermen, and fishing communities first. To us, that means sensible, smart reforms that will keep this and the next generation of fishermen on the water. These reforms should include improving monitoring and accountability, strengthening community protections, reducing bycatch, and supporting the next generation of fishermen. We look forward to working with Senator Sullivan and the other members of the 115th Congress.
Shannon Carroll is AMCC’s fisheries policy director. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leslie Cornick, Ph.D., led the effort to form AMCC’s Science Advisory Committee, which launches this year. As Dean of Research and Sponsored Programs at Alaska Pacific University, her most recent work includes beluga whale monitoring projects in Knik Arm, Cook Inlet and Bristol Bay. Read on to learn more about Dr. Cornick and the Science Advisory Committee’s exciting work.
What is your background? What drew you to AMCC’s’ work?
I have a BA in Biological Anthropology, MA in Physiology and Behavioral Biology, and PhD in Wildlife Ecology. I’m a physiological ecologist by training, working primarily on the limits to behavioral plasticity in marine mammals and how they adapt to environmental change. I’ve been a supporter of AMCC’s mission for a long time, so when I took a course in nonprofit sustainability and began looking for local organizations to partner with, I found AMCC to be a natural fit.
Why did you decide to spearhead the development of the Science Advisory Committee?
In my early conversations with AMCC staff it became clear that the organization was looking to build scientific capacity to bolster their effectiveness in the policy arena. Yet, without a full-time scientist on their staff, fundamental scientific advising was a gap that they needed to fill. I worked closely with Fisheries Policy Director, Shannon Carroll, and Executive Director, Kelly Harrell, to craft the concept and identify need areas. I also wanted to give back to the AMCC in a meaningful way by helping them to move the committee forward.
How will the Science Advisory Committee support AMCC’s work?
My goal is for the Science Advisory Committee to provide vital input on the current state of the science in key areas so that AMCC can craft policy positions, create programs, and advocate for their constituencies based on the most up to date and best available science.
How does the Science Advisory Committee recruit members? What skills are you looking for?
We are currently recruiting volunteers to serve on the Science Advisory Committee through a variety of networks, including the Marine Section of the Society for Conservation Biology, the Alaska Marine Science Symposium, and the American Fisheries Society. We are looking for early career or established scientists who are currently engaged in research, to synthesize the current state of the science and provide summaries to AMCC staff. If you’re interested in the Science Advisory Committee, have questions, or would like to submit an application, you can find out more here.
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.
We are proud to announce a new project in the works: The Alaska Young Fishermen’s Almanac! This book-length publication will be developed through the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network, and feature short stories, art, humor, recipes, poetry, gear/boat hacks, how tos, and more, all while reflecting our fishing traditions.
Through this project we aim to better connect young fishermen to each other, and to the skills and stories of their coastal livelihoods. By sharing it within and beyond Alaska’s communities, we hope this unique collection can serve as a cultural touchstone, illustrating Alaska’s fishing way of life to a broad audience. We’ve gathered a dynamic group of young fishermen to lead the development of the almanac, and now we need your help!
We’re seeking contributions from young fishermen representing a variety of fisheries and fishing communities across Alaska. Submissions will be considered through the end of the year. Please participate and help us spread the word!
- Your favorite boat recipe
- A letter to loved ones from the water
- A tribute to your favorite captain or crew member
- A story about your best or hardest day fishing
- Illustrations of different species
- A packing list of essential items
- Advice that you wish you’d known as a greenhorn
- A diagram of a useful knot or gear hack
We welcome your stories, your creative ideas and your voices in this new venture!
Get in touch with questions, ideas or submissions. Email email@example.com or call 907.227.5357.
The Alaska Young Fishermen’s Almanac is a project of Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network and made possible by funding from Alaska Humanities Forum.