Over 25 years ago, Jim Stratton and another friend to AMCC, Nevette Bowen, talked to fishermen throughout Alaska about the need for a local voice in ocean and fisheries management. From those discussions, AMCC was born. Today, Jim tells us that helping to launch AMCC is one of his proudest accomplishments during his career and that its success has far exceeded his expectations. We asked him recently why he values AMCC...
What inspired your connection to the ocean and the fishing way of life?
My father hand-trolled out of Newport, Oregon as I was growing up. I spent time with him on the water, trying to keep the boat going in a straight line as he worked the gear—quite the responsibility for a 12-year-old. I remember those days when we hit the fish and the box was full. (I even got a crew share...just enough money to buy some baseball cards and comic books.) While not from a commercial fishing family, my experience gave me an appreciation for the self-reliance that small boat fisheries give to a family.
Can you share about AMCC’s beginning?
In grade school, my teachers told me that the oceans would feed us far into the future; they were so big nothing could screw them up. Oops. Fifty years ago, there was little to no concept that the oceans would become so overfished and polluted that their health and in turn, the world’s food security, would be at risk. And we knew nothing of the threats we’d face from climate change! More than 25 years ago—I was working for Alaska Conservation Foundation at the time—many of us became concerned about the declining health of Alaska’s oceans, meanwhile no one group was dedicated to addressing this issue. It was clear that we needed a homegrown, grassroots group whose sole focus was to protect our oceans, marine life and sustainable fisheries.
What would you tell someone to encourage them to become a member today?
It takes visionaries like AMCC and its members to see that sustainability is the only path forward. Without a healthy ocean, the planet will not survive. Who better to lead the effort to protect our oceans and marine life than the people who depend directly on their bounty? Giving voice to local fishermen, coastal community members and the rest of us who also understand this is critical—is exactly what AMCC does. While each of us can individually express our concern, it’s only when our concerns are collected and focused by effective groups like AMCC, that real change can occur. I’m proud to call myself an AMCC “member for life”. I hope you’ll join me.