Dear Friends, During these turbulent times, I’d like to share what’s been lighting my fire every day. It’s the hardworking, caring people who share a reverence for the generative power of our oceans. It’s you.
Seven years ago, I met a charter fisherman who changed the course of my life. Longline halibut fishing had been my bread and butter for years, and I quickly found we shared concerns over the issue of halibut bycatch in the Bering Sea. He told me about Alaska Marine Conservation Council and their long-standing commitment to addressing this destructive issue, and I became dedicated to its mission then and there. Throughout the six years of my board service that ensued, I was introduced to people and ideas that are now foundational to my being. I found my community.
When I stepped into the role of Executive Director last December, I had no idea what 2020 had in store for the AMCC team or for Alaska’s fishing communities. I was familiar with the tenacity of harvesters, and I knew how committed we all are to our work and ways of life, but what I did not yet appreciate was how those would weave together into a protective fabric during this time of upheaval.
When global supply chains ground to a halt last spring, part of AMCC’s attention was on Kodiak’s small-boat jig fleet. In 2012, we helped this group of community-based fishermen obtain an allocation of cod and rockfish which helped reduce the amount available to high-volume, high-impact fisheries. These jig fishermen provide premium quality seafood using careful techniques that honor the integrity of the waters they fish. Our support of this fleet continues today through AMCC’s Catch 49 program, which provides Alaskans with sustainably harvested wild Alaska seafood while helping stewardship-minded fishermen get a better price for their catch.
When shelter-in-place mandates began and grocery stores became barren, hundreds of Alaskans across the state turned to Catch 49 to fill their freezers. With the help of Alaska’s fishermen, like Kodiak’s jig fleet, we were ready with a business model that allowed for no-contact ordering and distribution. Small-scale fishermen, community-based processors and other helping hands pulled together amidst a societal standstill to meet the needs of their fellow Alaskans. Meanwhile, when I attended meetings with Senators Murkowski and Sullivan to discuss COVID-19 relief efforts and the needs of Alaskan fishermen, these calls felt worrisome by necessity. Still, I found myself emphasizing a hopeful truth: small scale works best. I shared about Kodiak’s jig fleet and how safe and effective this hyper-local model is for ensuring food security for Alaskans, while supporting local workforces and keeping eyes on a changing ocean. I spoke about how investment in community-based fishermen is driving the community-led solutions needed to address the challenges arising from the pandemic. I shared how, with shorter supply chains, we are more secure. But as you know well, the pressures on our oceans and ocean-dependent Alaskans are not only urgent, they've been compounded by the economic unrest of 2020 and our changing climate. AMCC has a formidable amount of work ahead to honor what we know to be fair and responsible. Yet, there’s a whole community of creative, resourceful and generous people—like you—who remind us every day that they’re not going to give up on their values. And we won’t either.
That’s why we’re asking for your continued solidarity. We’ve set an ambitious $20,000 fundraising goal to achieve by year’s end, and the first $7,000 raised will be matched dollar-for-dollar thanks to a group of generous AMCC supporters. Will you make a gift today to help AMCC advance policies in support of Alaska’s small-boat fishermen and the vibrant marine ecosystems that sustain all Alaskans?
We've partnered with coastal artists to offer a selection of original artworks, honoring AMCC's long-standing tradition of repurposing retired buoys in celebration of Alaskans' connection to the ocean. Donate today and you'll be automatically entered to win a one-of-a-kind Painted Buoy!
Your support makes a difference. Thank you for your generosity and for being an important part of our community!