Amy Schaub is a first-generation commercial fisherman, and one of only a handful of female captains in the Southeast salmon seine fishery. In 2015, she bought the F/V Norsel, a 1950 wooden seiner that she maintains using her training from the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding. In nearly a decade of fishing commercially off the coasts of Alaska, Washington and California, Amy has longlined for halibut, black cod and gray cod; jigged for cod and rockfish; fished for prawn; seined for salmon and squid; and fished for Dungeness crab. Amy lives in Homer.
Photo courtesy of Evgenia Arbugaeva for Vogue
How long have you been commercial fishing? What drew you to this work?
Nine years. I missed being out on the water. I had been a sailor then boat yard worker and ship wright apprentice for a few years when I wanted to be out on the water instead of under a boat. I also wanted to try something new than sailing tall ships.
What would most seafood consumers be surprised to learn about your life as a small-boat fisherman?
That it is a small independent business that I own and operate. That we are paid cents on the pound for fish we deliver. That this is my life blood and livelihood. That I am one of very few women operating a seiner.
What do you especially love about your fishing livelihood?
That you never know what you are going to get, it is a surprise every day, every season. That you have a fishing community that supports you in good times and especially in bad. That it is seasonal. That life is abundant yet setting your limits to ensure the future of the fish and fishermen. That you are providing the best food for the world- Wild Alaskan Seafood!
What’s happening in the small-boat fishing world that is exciting or encouraging?
I am excited that the AMCC has worked with the Kodiak Jig Association to keep the jig fishing alive, as well as, providing a local source of seafood to the community and a great market for the fishermen. That I own a small boat and I can fish. I can have my own operation.
Photo courtesy Amy Schaub
What part of AMCC’s work resonates most with you?
That they work with fishermen to bring from the sea to locals. That locals get seafood and small boat fishermen have another great market option. I also feel that the AMCC recognizes the greying of the fleet and are working with young fishermen.
Where in Alaska would you like to visit or spend more time?
I would like to explore more of the Kenai Peninsula, the Interior and out on the Aleutian Chain.
Describe a moment or day that is one of your favorite memories of fishing.
A day long ago I was pot fishing for prawns in SE. The snow started and slightly receded down the mountain, the weather was calm, the trees turning colors, an old grey wolf came down the to the beach, whales breached beside and us laughing, joking and smiling as we hauled the pots of spot prawns aboard. There was an abundance of beauty, life, smiles and fish.
What is your hope for the future of fishing in Alaska?
That there is a future of fishing. I hope to fish another 30 years. I want the same sense of life, abundance, and sustainability for many lives to come.