Jim Stratton is a long-time Alaskan and a founding member of AMCC. He has more than 30 years of public lands advocacy experience, including various roles at Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, Alaska Conservation Foundation, and an 8-year stint as Director of Alaska State Parks. Jim recently retired from the National Parks Conservation Association as Alaska Regional Director. He volunteers his time to conservation causes and hosts the Arctic Cactus Hour every Saturday night on Anchorage public radio.
How did you become involved with AMCC?
I was actually at the meeting that created AMCC, so have been involved from the very beginning. When I worked for the Alaska Conservation Foundation we explored the idea of creating a community based, grassroots marine conservation organization. We hired Nevette Bowen to talk with fisherman across the state and see if they also thought there was a need for a group. With overwhelming positive responses, we gathered a group in Anchorage and over a three day retreat created what is now AMCC.
What part of AMCC’s work resonates most with you?
How AMCC successfully blends support for small boat fisheries with a strong marine conservation message. AMCC’s support for conservation by supporting community based fisheries will ensue that the organization will be around and relevant for a long time.
What is your most vivid fishing memory?
I remember hooking up two silvers at the same time during one of my Dad’s visits when I lived in and had a boat in Juneau. There is nothing like a silver dancing on the end of your fishing rod and having two on at once was more than double the fun!!
Have you ever participated in Alaska’s commercial fisheries? If so, please tell us a bit about your experience.
I have not participated in Alaska’s commercial fisheries, but my father did some hand-trolling off the Oregon Coast (he fished out of Newport) when I was in middle school and I was regularly called upon to drive the boat while he worked the gear.
How do you celebrate your connection to the ocean as an Alaskan?
I have always lived within an hour of the ocean and spent a lot of time at the beach or fishing with my Dad growing up in Oregon, so when I moved to Alaska I made sure I lived in coastal communities. I need to spend time walking beaches or just sitting and watching the waves. It is essential for my mental health. I especially like watching waves crash ashore on rocky coastlines. And in a storm is even better! There is something so soothing about the rhythm and chaos of the waves.
What do you see as the biggest threat to Alaska’s small-boat commercial fisherman?
Climate change is the biggest threat, followed closely by policy makers that are climate deniers. The changes in ocean acidification and temperature are having such profound changes and we really have no idea where it is going to lead. This is a threat not only to small-boat fisherman, but to all of us.
What three things do you love most about living in Alaska?
The people, the wildness and sun all summer!
Where in Alaska would you like to visit or spend more time?
I would like to spend more time along the lost coast between Yakutat and Cordova. It is so remote, yet not that far away. I did a kayak trip once in Icey Bay and the close proximity of those huge mountains to the ocean really made an impression. I worked on protecting the Yakataga State Game Refuge, but have never been there. I’ve heard the wildlife is plentiful and there are some good long beaches to explore.