Today, we continue our series on family fishing traditions that highlights the next generation of fishermen that have grown up as part of the extended Alaska Marine Conservation Council family. We were inspired by our friends at The Salmon Project who recently showcased some of our favorite fishing women: Lexi Fish Hackett of Sitka, and Claire Neaton and Emma Teal Laukitis (aka The Salmon Sisters). Lexi, Claire, and Emma Teal are the daughters of our founding board members Steve Fish and Buck Laukitis.
Buck Laukitis with daughters Emma & Claire in the bottom row, surrounded by AMCC founders at an AMCC board meeting in October 1997.
We caught up with Lexi, Claire, and Emma Teal on childhoods spent fishing and what their hopes are for future fishing generations. In the first edition we highlighted Lexi Fish Hackett of Sitka, and in this edition we showcase the Salmon Sisters, Claire and Emma Teal Laukitis.
Like we said before, it’s hard to describe how it feels to see these young women step into the roles of conservation-minded fishermen, stewards of the resource, business owners, and mothers. The simplest way to sum is: it’s why we do what we do at the Alaska Marine Conservation Council.
At AMCC, we believe in sustaining ties to family, community, and to the ocean that nourishes us so deeply. We believe in nourishing the next generation of fishermen and leaders like Lexi, Claire, Emma, and many other young fishermen across Alaska that we have the pleasure of knowing and admiring.
Claire and Emma fishing for halibut in the Bering Sea onboard the family boat.
Through their business the Salmon Sisters, Emma and Claire have been especially generous to AMCC, joining early on as a business member, creating a special “Our Oceans” hoodie with a portion of proceeds going to AMCC, and most recently donating revenue from sales of their young fishermen apparel to support young fishermen. We hope you will join Claire and Emma in supporting AMCC’s work.
In Alaska, it’s the time of year where we apply for our annual PFD.
AMCC is an official Pick.Click.Give. organization and we hope you will consider donating a portion of your PFD to AMCC’s work to bolster the next generation of young fishing leaders.
For additional instructions on how to allocate a portion of your PFD to AMCC, click here.
Q&A on Family Fishing Traditions with Salmon Sisters, Claire Neaton & Emma Laukitis
Question: How long have you been fishing for and what’s your favorite thing about fishing?
Claire & Emma: We grew up on our dad’s boat, but started fishing together as his crew when we were 12 and 13. Our favorite part about fishing is that it’s guaranteed time together as a family — we’ve gotten to know each other and our parents in a different way because of long summer days together at sea. When we were in college on the East Coast, we always looked forward to returning to Alaska to fish for the summers, and still feel an innate seasonal pull back to the ocean.
Question: What does it mean to you to continue your family’s fishing tradition?
The Salmon Sisters Claire & Emma.
Claire & Emma: Our family’s fishing traditions began with our parents, who moved to Alaska in their 20’s. So, our own tradition is young. But our parents learned skills from fishermen on the back deck of boats and on the dock, listened to stories from village elders, saw how fish were treated as a valuable resource and taught these values to my sister and me as we were growing up in False Pass. We continue our family’s fishing tradition by returning to the ocean each year to harvest fish sustainably, and in the off-season we spend our time and efforts celebrating our lifestyle as fishermen, the traditions that keep our industry and coastal communities strong, and the wild seafood that we catch with our business, Salmon Sisters.
Question: What types of lessons has your family passed down to you about stewardship our fisheries and oceans?
Claire & Emma: Our dad always taught us about the ocean — the geography, the birds, the tides, the way salmon swim upstream to spawn. A total education has allowed us to appreciate and respect where we work and the importance of our treatment of the resources there, how abuse of a resource will affect much more than itself. We have been taught that our family’s health is directly dependent on the health of the oceans, so we must do whatever we can to keep it in equilibrium, and thriving.
Question: What are some of your hopes for the future of our fisheries, your community, or the fishing legacy that future generations might inherit?
Claire & Emma: We hope that more young people will get involved in our fisheries and take responsibility for its health. Sustainable fisheries are about feeding yourself and others, without waste. If we can all keep this simplicity in mind, then there’s room to help the industry and ecosystem in other ways. Learning skills that will make us more efficient and smarter fishermen, getting educated on what our communities need and how we can help spread wild Alaska seafood across the globe. We hope the strength in the community of fishermen stays united and strong in the future, because our identities depend upon it.
Help celebrate and support the continuation of family fishing traditions like those of the Laukitis family and donate a portion of your PFD to AMCC this year. Together, we can create the kind of fishing future generations of Alaskans to come deserve.