How did growing up in a remote Bering Sea community shape who you are today?
Saint Paul Island. Photo: Tom & Michelle Grimm
I absolutely love that I was able to grow up in Saint Paul Island. Growing up in this small and tight-knit community allowed me to recognize the value of family. I grew up spending a lot of time with my siblings and I was also very fortunate to have been able to grow up around almost all of my extended family. I also take pride in the fact that other members in the community are always looking out for one another and ensuring everyone is being taken care of. The island is filled with an abundance of amazing wildlife and plants for us to gather and subsist on, and and everyone loves to share food.
Now that I’m older and have spent time away to go to college I really value my visits back home. Growing up in the Pribilofs gave me unique and useful life lessons that I probably wouldn’t have had the privilege of experiencing if I had grown up in a larger city.
What is your most vivid fishing memory?
My very first halibut fishing trip was on my dad’s boat, the FV Aleut Crusader. I was 14 years old and I was with my dad, three brothers, and a family friend. I woke up SUPER early because I was worried I was going to sleep in and it was very rare that I was able to go fishing. Good weather is hard to come by! I got lucky. It was a gorgeous day and I didn’t get seasick!
Connie’s dad and brothers on the Aleut Crusader
When I boarded the boat I got comfortable in the cab where I started to watch my brothers begin their routine to prepare for the day. I could see and smell the freshly baited hooks, which made me more excited to finally be on the water and observe the long-lining process.
It was finally time to haul our first string and I remember hearing my dad and oldest brother talking back and forth because fish were finally starting to surface out of the water. I eagerly watched my brother gaff halibut after halibut! The whole crew was beaming as halibut continuously came onboard.
All day I listened to the constant communication between everyone, watched how hard each crewman worked, and the teamwork they demonstrated. This is one of my most cherished memories I have with my father and brothers.
Does your family have any fishing traditions?
My mom, sister and I always greet my dad and his crew down at the harbor when they are delivering their fish to the processor. This is one of the best ways to see the halibut, ask how their fishing trip went, and also to see how other vessels did.
You’re majoring in biology at University of Alaska-Anchorage. How do you plan on using your degree?
Connie at Lukanin Beach on Saint Paul Island.
I haven’t fully decided on what exactly I want to do after I get my degree. I’m very interested in marine biology and Saint Paul’s fishing industry so finding a balance between the two is what I’d prefer.
What are you excited to work on or learn more about during your internship this summer?
I’m excited to be learning more about AMCC’s advocacy programs and how they address the social and economic concerns of other small coastal fishing communities.
What part of AMCC’s work resonates most with you?
I really value AMCC’s mission and how we share information effectively to the general public, fishing communities and policymakers around the state.
Where in Alaska would you like to visit or spend more time?
I went to high school in Sitka, Alaska—so gorgeous!—so I would love to spend even more time exploring Southeast Alaska.