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Farewell from Jamie O'Connor

I first tripped across AMCC in 2016, staffing the front desk in an office in Washington D.C. A vibrant group of young fishermen came spilling through the doors in the familiar clothes we wear when we’re trying to be professional but wish we were still wearing boots. They couldn’t know that I was one of them, plucked off the family set-net site only months before. And I couldn’t know that I’d count many in that group to be among my dearest friends a few years from that moment. It’s funny how we orbit each other, passing before we collide.

A year later, I reconnected to AMCC through the Alaska Young Fishing Fellows program. I spent a winter hanging out with Homer fishermen who fished all over Alaska and learning more about fisheries and fisheries management beyond Bristol Bay. I flew to Kodiak for ComFish, and D.C. to advocate for the Young Fishermen’s Development Act, now signed into law. I attended the North Pacific Council and the Board of Fish. I interviewed dozens of fishermen and wiled away endless hours with the North Pacific Fisheries Association board at the back table of Fat Olives. I ended that winter knowing I wanted to work in fisheries year-round. I wanted to help other young fishermen understand and engage in the policy and advocacy surrounding them. I wanted my boots muddy in the summer and my mind in fish all-year-round.

AMCC gave me that opportunity when they hired me into the Working Waterfronts program in fall 2018. And they turned on the firehose when they asked me to serve on the Advisory Panel to the Council not long after. The years that followed have been rich in friendship, salt, purpose, and good work. I leave AMCC knowing that this team and community will continue to advocate for thriving coastal communities, marine environments, and people who depend upon them.

Theresa Peterson, Fisheries Policy Director, threw me in the deep end but always swam right there beside me. Marissa Wilson, Executive Director, led with fearless and creative love of us and the work through turbulent times. And Katy Rexford inspired us all with her dedication and savvy, slinging fish with a song at Catch 49. The others in fishing communities across the state that have taught and inspired me during my time at AMCC are legion. And I won’t embarrass them by listing them all, even if I could. But I thank them. I thank you and look forward to seeing each of you around the waterfront.

Farewell, and see you all again soon.

Jamie O’Connor

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