Growing the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network

Date Posted: January 27, 2017       Categories: AMCC Blog       Tags: Working Waterfronts, Young Fishermen's Network

By Hannah Heimbuch and Rachel Donkersloot

This has been an exciting year for the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network. We’ve celebrated, made new friends, and are laying big plans for the future. It’s been a busy January so far. Network coordinator Hannah Heimbuch and three other Alaska fishermen recently traveled to Victoria, British Columbia, observing the annual meeting of the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC). Heimbuch, along with Keith Bell and Peter Neaton of Homer, and Carina Nichols of Sitka (who was recently appointed to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council’s Advisory Panel), participate in halibut fisheries that span Alaska’s coastline.

Young fishermen at IPHC’s annual meeting in Victoria. From left: Carina Nichols, Keith Bell and Peter Neaton.

The IPHC process is a robust management collaboration between two countries and multiple gear types, spanning nearly a century. Just as we’ve seen our fleets greying, we’ve seen the same among the leaders and advocates in these important decision-making bodies. As the Network develops, an important part of our mission is giving fishermen an opportunity to experience this and other management and policy processes. Meeting decision makers and mentors in the policy arena, and gaining insight and experience in the process helps expand fishermen engagement and build a new generation of skilled leaders.

Also taking place in Victoria this week was a Young Fishermen’s Gathering geared toward supporting young harvesters in British Columbia, the first of its kind. Our group took some time to participate in this important discussion, an event modeled after Alaska Sea Grant’s robust Young Fishermen’s Summit. This gathering has been an excellent time to learn from those in other sectors, and better understand our shared strengths and challenges as North Pacific fishermen.

In other developments, Network participants around the state are gearing up to support spring workshops and events, including a fishing finance workshop in Sitka, a ComFish panel in Kodiak and a young fishermen’s happy hour in Anchorage. Details for these events are still developing, but we’re excited to see the Network helping to create regional opportunities that support their fishing businesses and communities. On the creative front, the Young Fishermen’s Almanac is underway and in the policy realm, the Young Fishermen’s Development Program continues to gain Congressional support.

In the coming year, the AYFN is going to be growing in some important ways and we’re going to need lots of help and ideas along the way from folks like you. We’re putting together a steering committee and regional AYFN chapters that will help create a vision for the AYFN in the future. If you are a young or a more experienced fishermen that wants to be engaged, please reach out to Hannah Heimbuch.

Young fishermen at the Network's Fishmas event in Homer in December.

Young fishermen at the Network’s Fishmas event in Homer in December.

As part of this growing effort, we are excited to announce the pilot of the Young Fishing Fellows Program! The program will match the goals and needs of young fishermen today with host organizations across coastal Alaska engaged in fishery-related issues and projects. The aim is to provide young Alaskan fishermen with valuable learning, leadership and career-building opportunities through projects focused on fisheries management/policy, seafood business, fisheries and ocean science, marine conservation, or fishing community sustainability issues.

We are currently working with potential host organizations to develop and refine fellowship projects and plan to place 3-5 young fishing fellows in the next year. If you are interested in learning more about the Fishing Fellows program, please contact Rachel Donkersloot.

If you would like to learn more about developing the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network in your community, please contact Hannah Heimbuch to sign up and join the Network’s Facebook group. Stay tuned for more information!

Hannah Heimbuch is AMCC’s Community Fisheries Organizer. Rachel Donkersloot is AMCC’s Working Waterfronts Program Director. Both can be reached via email or by calling 907.277.5357. 

Give back to healthy oceans with a year-end gift to AMCC

I want to tell you about Reise and Harmony Wayner. This brother and sister grew up near the end of the Aleutian chain in Unalaska. Their backyard was a landscape of emerald green hills, streams filled with wild salmon, and a rich ocean filled with a diversity of marine life.

The Wayner Family, courtesy Amy Gulick

The Wayner Family. Photo: Amy Gulick

Taught by their parents, Rhonda and Paul, this generation of Wayners continues the tradition of fishing at their family’s setnet site in Bristol Bay every summer. They have developed a strong sense of respect for the natural resources that support their family and other families like theirs.

Reise, Harmony, and other young fishermen and subsistence leaders from Sitka to Shaktoolik are shaping the future of coastal communities in Alaska. They understand that healthy fisheries are vital to the future of Alaska. And they are concerned about what the alarming pace of environmental change, unsettling national politics, and Alaska’s ailing economy will mean for the future.

Your support is needed now more than ever by Alaska’s fishing communities and families. Alaska Marine Conservation Council helps ensure the protection of Alaska’s marine resources for this and future generations. Please consider making a gift today.

Thanks to you, here’s a sampling of what we have accomplished in 2016:

  • Grown the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network and expanded its impact to help nurture the next generation of coastal community leaders;
  • Catalyzed movement towards practical and informed solutions to keep fishing opportunities in our coastal communities;
  • Fostered smart solutions to bycatch in the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea that consider the needs of local communities and long-term conservation;
  • Built a national coalition of small-scale fishermen ready to defend the Magnuson-Stevens Act, our nation’s “fish bill;”
  • Advanced an ecosystem-based approach to management in the North Pacific—one that addresses fishing impacts, supports inclusive decision-making and considers the effects of climate change;
  • Supported research, action, and engagement on the impacts of ocean acidification; and
  • Connected more than 600 Alaska seafood consumers with community fishermen through Catch of the Season, our thriving community supported fishery.

None of us know how the new administration’s actions and policies will impact our marine ecosystems. But one thing is certain. We must remain vigilant.

With your support, AMCC will—as we have for over 20 years—continue to advocate on critical issues today, tomorrow and for the next 20 years. We are in this for the long haul.

We have some ambitious goals for 2017:

Donate to AMCC by Dec. 31 to ensure a healthy future for Alaska's fishing families!

Donate to AMCC by Dec. 31 to ensure a healthy future for Alaska’s fishing families! Photo: Rhonda Wayner

  • Remain a steadfast and effective voice for regional and national fisheries policy that prioritizes conservation, communities, and local economies while considering the larger ecosystem and long-term changes;
  • Carry out cutting-edge social science research to generate knowledge and smart solutions to the “graying of the fleet” and support the well-being of coastal communities;
  • Bring our ocean acidification educational kiosk to new communities in southeast Alaska and defend important investments in ocean acidification research; and
  • Harness the power of the local foods movement and social enterprise to expand the number of fishermen and consumers participating in AMCC’s community supported fishery.

Please stand with AMCC by making a gift now. It matters more than ever to Alaskans like Reise and Harmony Wayner and families in communities like theirs.

Thank you and happy holidays to you and yours.

Kelly Harrell
Executive Director

Catch AMCC at Pacific Marine Expo

Date Posted: November 6, 2016       Categories: AMCC Blog       Tags: Calendar/Events, Fisheries Conservation, Ocean Acidification, Working Waterfronts, Young Fishermen's Network

This year’s Pacific Marine Expo will take place November 17–19 at the CenturyLink Field Event Center in Seattle. As the largest commercial marine trade show on the West Coast, more than 450 exhibitors come together to engage and network with buyers in their industry. With three full days of exhibits, education sessions, events and happy hours, this event is a must if you own a commercial fishing business.

Find AMCC in the Alaska Aisle- Booth #544

While you’re at the Expo, stop by AMCC’s booth in the Alaska Aisle #544. Renew your membership with our Expo special and get a Salmon Sisters halibut tee or Kleen Kanteen cup! Staff including our Executive Director will be there chatting about the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network, the impacts of ocean acidification on Alaska’s fisheries and more. 

Young Fishermen’s Happy Hour, Friday Nov. 18th at 5pm 

Also join us at Elysian Fields right down the road from Expo for a Young Fishermen’s Happy Hour, Friday, November 18 at 5 p.m. See you in the Emerald City!

For the full show schedule, exhibitor list and more, visit:

Seeking Submissions for Young Fishermen’s Almanac!

Date Posted: July 14, 2016       Categories: AMCC Blog       Tags: Working Waterfronts, Young Fishermen's Network

We are proud to announce a new project in the works: The Alaska Young Fishermen’s Almanac! This book-length publication will be developed through the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network, and feature short stories, art, humor, recipes, poetry, gear/boat hacks, how tos, and more, all while reflecting our fishing traditions.

Through this project we aim to better connect young fishermen to each other, and to the skills and stories of their coastal livelihoods. By sharing it within and beyond Alaska’s communities, we hope this unique collection can serve as a cultural touchstone, illustrating Alaska’s fishing way of life to a broad audience. We’ve gathered a dynamic group of young fishermen to lead the development of the almanac, and now we need your help!

We’re seeking contributions from young fishermen representing a variety of fisheries and fishing communities across Alaska. Submissions will be considered through the end of the year. Please participate and help us spread the word!

Submission ideas:


  • Your favorite boat recipe
  • A letter to loved ones from the water
  • A tribute to your favorite captain or crew member
  • A story about your best or hardest day fishing
  • Illustrations of different species
  • A packing list of essential items
  • Advice that you wish you’d known as a greenhorn
  • A diagram of a useful knot or gear hack

Click here to learn more about the almanac and read our submission guidelines. 

We welcome your stories, your creative ideas and your voices in this new venture!

Get in touch with questions, ideas or submissions. Email or call 907.227.5357.

The Alaska Young Fishermen’s Almanac is a project of Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network and made possible by funding from Alaska Humanities Forum.

Celebrating Local Food Traditions & Small-Scale Fisheries at Slow Fish

Date Posted: March 30, 2016       Categories: AMCC Blog       Tags: AMCC on the road, Working Waterfronts, Young Fishermen's Network

Part 3 blog from the Young Fishermen’s Educational Tour #nextgenfishtour

by David Fleming

David, 29, is a third-generation fisherman who was born and raised in Anchorage. He spends his summers fishing Prince William Sound alongside his father and brothers, who are actively involved in the setnet, drift and seine fisheries.

After more than a week on the road we arrived at our final destination: New Orleans, Louisiana. For most of us, this was our first visit to this historical and magical city nestled in the Deep South. After the fast pace of the East Coast, we were all happy to be in the Big Easy—with warmer temperatures and a more mellow, community-focused vibe—for the final leg of our trip.

We were in New Orleans for Slow Fish 2016, the conference’s first ever gathering in the western hemisphere. Fishermen, scientists, chefs, students, entrepreneurs, and Slow Food advocates gathered in New Orleans to discuss food systems issues and preserving local food cultures and traditions.


This year marked the first time that Slow Fish was held in North America.

Many of us felt more at home here than anywhere else on the trip. New Orleans life seemed to tie right in with this philosophy of slowing down the pace. We were happy roaming the streets, meeting locals, and comparing notes with fellow conference goers.

The conference started off a little rocky due to a last-minute venue change because of torrential downpours—20 inches forecast!—and flash flooding possible around the city. Nothing like a little fishy weather to get things started. Many great interactive discussions, presentations, and food demonstrations made for a lively three days. Brainstorming with new friends opened opportunities for future collaborative efforts.

Each day brought something new and we were fully engulfed in fisheries talks with our new acquaintances from all over the world. We were inspired to see some familiar Alaskans who traveled for the conference; it was a great reminder of how tight-knit our community is. We also re-connected with some of our New England young fishermen friends that we had met just a few days prior in Boston. They road-tripped down!


Slow Fish featured an array of regional seafood dishes that our young fishermen enjoyed.

Slow Fish connected us with personal stories and ideas about sustainable fisheries from those involved in our industry. We heard and shared our stories of heartache and pain as well as love for what we do. We were lucky enough to have two of our own young fishermen, Kiril Basargin and Elsa Sebastian, give a personal narrative of their history and strong ties within the fishing industry and their communities in Alaska. Great job Kiril and Elsa!

I had a memorable chat with a gentleman named Jarvis Green. He’s an ex-NFL player from rural Louisiana who returned home after his 10-year career to market local Louisiana shrimp after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. I asked Mr. Green why he returned to the Gulf region. He replied, “You should never forget about where you came from. If everyone cared where we came from, our world and fisheries would be in a lot better shape.”

Although we came from various communities, fisheries, and industries, we all shared a common thread at Slow Fish: the passion, respect, and love for our oceans and everything they produce. It was powerful to be surrounded by others who share our deep concern for healthy oceans and sustainable fisheries.

“Listening to fishermen from the East Coast and Gulf share their stories was an immediate wake up call of how lucky we are to have abundant, sustainably managed fisheries in Alaska,” said Claire Neaton, a young fisherman from Homer. “Our generation needs to step up and ensure the same fishing opportunities and healthy oceans we take for granted off of our coast will be available for our children.”

crawfish boil

This traditional crawfish boil was a crowd favorite.

Slow Fish 2016 ended with a unique Cajun-style barbecue known as a “boucherie” which is a day long festival of eating, drinking, and music in a beautiful outdoor setting. It took place at the picturesque Docville Farm in Violet—about 90 minutes south of New Orleans, along the banks of the Mississippi—which looked like a setting out of a Mark Twain novel. We were delighted to see the presentation and preparation of a beautiful hog slaughtered and served entirely from head-to-tail. We glowed with delight while eating pork stew, Cajun-spiced cracklins, and countless other parts of the pig, in addition to local crawfish, shrimp, and other seafood delicacies.

Darren Platt, a young fisherman from Kodiak, described the experience this way: “New Orleans is filled with special places where good food, drink, and music coalesce. Such as a farmhouse on the banks of the Mississippi, where cracklins and boiled shrimp were washed down with ice cold beer, and fish tales were exchanged almost as lyrics to the live Cajun bluegrass.”

Our time at Slow Fish was a great way to wrap up our tour, and I am thankful to have been a part of this great group of fishermen from around our state that were part of the educational journey. I believe that all of us walked away from this experience as “highliners” due to all of the information and knowledge we were exposed to. I know we will all share with our families and communities the power of fisheries, fishing communities and the fishing industry as a whole.


Reach out Hannah to be part of the growing Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network at 

Learn more about the Young Fishermen’s Educational Tour and stay tuned to the AMCC website for future blog posts.  

Thanks to sponsors of the Young Fishermen’s Educational Tour: Salmon Sisters, Edible Alaska, United Fishermen of Alaska, BulletProof Nets, United Cook Inlet Drift Association, Marine Fish Conservation Network and many AMCC members!

Young Fishermen Bring Their Unique Perspective to Capitol Hill

Date Posted: March 23, 2016       Categories: AMCC Blog       Tags: AMCC on the road, Federal Fisheries Policy, Working Waterfronts, Young Fishermen's Network

Part 2 Blog from the Young Fishermen’s Educational Tour #nextgenfishtour

by Hannah Heimbuch

Hannah, age 30, is a third-generation fisherman. She lives in Homer and drifts for salmon in Cook Inlet and longlines for halibut in the Gulf of Alaska.

The second stop on the Young Fishermen’s Educational Tour after Boston was in our nation’s Capitol. The goal of the D.C. visit was for young fishermen to learn more about federal fisheries policy, including the Magnuson Stevens Act (our nation’s primary federal fisheries law that is up for reauthorization), and also to gain experience in the politics of how federal law is made and the importance of face time with decision makers and their staff.

While our D.C. visit was a flurry of planned activities and meetings on national fisheries policy, one of the highlights were impromptu intersections and quality time spent with Alaska Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan. During our first day in town we learned Senator Sullivan would be giving a talk on fisheries at the Consortium for Ocean Leadership’s 2016 Public Policy Forum and that Senator Murkowski was giving a floor speech on the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. Our group quickly got in touch with staff at their offices and hatched plans to see both Senators in action in these different arenas.

With Senator Murkowski, we were lucky enough to be able to tag along as she moved to and from a floor speech in the Capitol building, where she addressed the need for substance abuse recovery assistance.

Representatives of the Alaska Young Fishermen's Network take a break from the busy halls of the U.S. Senate with Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

Representatives of the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network take a break from the busy halls of the U.S. Senate with Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

“On the way to the Capitol, she led the lot of us like goslings through the underground halls of the Senate building,” said Marissa Wilson, one of 12 fishermen trying to keep up with the senior Senator as she marched through basement corridors, mentally preparing for her floor speech and asking us about our time in D.C. The group got to ride the Capitol subway with the senator, squish in tight elevators with her, and watched her floor speech from the family gallery in the Capitol.

While the topic of substance abuse was not head on about fisheries, many from the group understood deeply how intertwined the issue was with coastal Alaska and access to economic opportunities such as fishing. Back in her office after the speech, our group had time to chat further with the senator about community health issues and fisheries. “Conversations on the health of our state and its residents went beyond the lip service we had come to expect on the Hill,” Wilson said. “I felt listened to. It was empowering.”

With Senator Sullivan, we were able to greet the new senator before his arrival at the Reserve Officer’s Association building where he gave a brief speech about the importance of cooperation to manage our fisheries and oceans interspersed with details on the size and importance of Alaska’s fisheries. Sullivan is now lining up to play an important leadership role in federal fisheries policy including on reauthorization of the Magnuson Stevens Act. After the speech, he spent a good amount of time with the group outside the building where we talked fish and expressed sentiments about not rolling back provisions in MSA and protecting fishing opportunities for communities and the next generation. The genuine conversations and time spent with both Alaska senators were a special treat for the group. We thank both Senators Sullivan and Murkowski and their offices for making time for us that day!

For some of our group, it was a first-time trip to Washington, while others had been to the Capitol to talk fish with policymakers before. Traveling as the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network, however, was new ground for everyone. It was under the umbrella of this emerging group that we dove into two and a half days in D.C.

Though our young group has more fishing years ahead of them than behind them, we have solid experience with our fishing businesses and the policies that affect them. While not yet veterans to the legislative process, we are highly conversant in the needs, challenges and successes of our fishing communities. Many members of the group noted how important it is as harvesters to be aware of how national policies affect us. In D.C., we gained experience weighing in on policy issues with a strong and united voice.

“After meeting with a group of very receptive advisors to Congress members from Alaska and Washington, it struck me that we were sitting in seats left warm by lobbyists against our precise causes,” noted Darren Platt, a Kodiak-based fisherman.

The young fishermen prepare to hop aboard the U.S Capitol Subway.

The young fishermen prepare to hop aboard the U.S Capitol Subway.

“With goals such as weakening sustainability features of the Magnuson Stevens Act, or bypassing the North Pacific Fishery Management Council through congressional action, there are powerful interests working diligently in the Capitol to undermine the long-term well-being of fishing communities. One can only hope that a group of bright-eyed and passionate young fishermen can form a compelling enough voice to help subvert the influence of these well organized and financially endowed interests.”

Through AMCC’s partnership with other small-boat fishery groups through the Fishing Community Coalition, we were able to observe the complexity of finding common ground among the nation’s diverse fishing interests. We also learned from meetings with policy leaders, congressional staffers, and lobbyists about current issues and how these diverse entities approach policy development.

Fishermen Claire Laukitis (Homer) and [name] (town) chat with Sen. Dan Sullivan (where?).

Claire Laukitis (Homer) and Elsa Sebastian (Sitka) chat with Sen. Dan Sullivan before his talk at the Ocean Leadership Consortium’s Public Policy Forum.

Perhaps most importantly, we tested the waters for our network’s future in this national arena. As an organizer for the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network, the most important takeaway for me from our time in D.C. was developing the expectations and goals for our ongoing efforts. Our ability and willingness to be at the table—ready to build relationships and find solutions amongst a diverse group of people and fisheries—is essential to our future in fish.

David Fleming, a trip participant who fishes in Prince William Sound, reflected on his time in D.C. “This was an eye-opening experience that informed me of the political process of fisheries management at the federal level. I gained insightful knowledge that I will pass along to my family and local fishing community.”

The Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network has a strong future to serve as a unified voice for our industry, and as independent, forward-thinking leaders for sustainable fish and fishing communities. We’ve become fishermen in some of the best-run fisheries in the world, and we have high standards for management, equity and conservation. We are also acutely aware of the significant challenges coastal communities and industry leaders across the nation face as policies and fisheries evolve, ecosystems shift, and major economic drivers challenge the stability of and access to our marine resources.

While the halls of state and federal buildings are full of seafood lobbyists advocating for their own interests, our group is working from a unique vantage point: We are well-informed, invested and conscientious food harvesters with our careers at stake; we are intricately dependent on and connected to this natural resource; and as we make choices to build businesses and raise families in the fishing way of life, we are deeply committed to the long-term health of coastal communities and their fisheries.

In short, we are an essential resource for people trying to make good decisions about fisheries management in Alaska and the U.S. This small group—and our many peers at home—are emerging leaders for the next fishing era, with the potential and perhaps the obligation to be far less enamored of status quo policies, aging fish wars and expectations created by yesterday’s catch. As an emerging network of independent fishermen, we are inspired and motivated by the D.C. visit to plan to build our capacity and take serious steps toward growing the skills, knowledge and relationships needed to be excellent leaders and ambassadors for our fisheries.

Reach out Hannah to be part of the growing Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network at 

Learn more about the Young Fishermen’s Educational Tour and stay tuned to the AMCC website for future blog posts.  

Thanks to sponsors of the Young Fishermen’s Educational Tour: Salmon Sisters, Edible Alaska, United Fishermen of Alaska, BulletProof Nets, United Cook Inlet Drift Association, Marine Fish Conservation Network and many AMCC members!

Boston Grows Camaraderie, Provides Insight into the Global Seafood Market for Young Fishermen

Date Posted: March 10, 2016       Categories: AMCC Blog       Tags: AMCC on the road, Seafood markets, Working Waterfronts, Young Fishermen's Network

Part 1 Blog from the Young Fishermen’s Educational Tour #nextgenfishtour

by Mili Vukich, Age 24, Naknek (Bristol Bay), Alaska ~ Salmon gillnetter, Bristol Legacy Salmon, LLC

If you were traveling with eleven young fishermen from more than eight different communities of Alaska, and each had diverse backgrounds in fishing and family, what would you expect to get from a trip like this?

From top left: Claire Neaton (Homer), Matt Alward (Homer), Darren Platt (Kodiak), Hannah Heiimbuch (Homer/AMCC), Mili Vukich (Naknek), Kelly Harrell (AMCC). Bottom row: Michael Shangin (Port Heiden), Kiril Basargin (Razdolna/Homer), David Fleming (Anchorage), Elsa Sebastian (Sitka), Marissa Wilson (Cordova/Homer). Not pictured: Carina Nichols (Sitka).

From top left: Claire Neaton (Homer), Matt Alward (Homer), Darren Platt (Kodiak), Hannah Heiimbuch (Homer/AMCC), Mili Vukich (Naknek), Kelly Harrell (AMCC). Bottom row: Michael Shangin (Port Heiden), Kiril Basargin (Razdolna/Homer), David Fleming (Anchorage), Elsa Sebastian (Sitka), Marissa Wilson (Cordova/Homer). Not pictured: Carina Nichols (Sitka).

We’re young, many of us already a generational fisherman, choosing to live just like our mothers and fathers and others choosing the life of their mentors and captains living amongst communities that pull their identities from the sea.  But let’s not lie to ourselves, not all fishermen are equal, and not all involved in the fisheries are faced with the same moral obligations to our interaction with the wild.  For something that is constantly giving, there is plenty to take away, but no resource is infinite.

I came to the conclusion of a definition of “sustainability” that I can agree with: something that takes, but also gives back.  We say sustainable fisheries, sustainable this and that, but are we ourselves “sustainable?”  Alaska Marine Conservation Council, along with the aid of many others, are supporting the next leaders of Alaska fisheries for these very reasons.

Bristol Bay fisherman, Mili Vukich, enjoys some of the marketing materials at the Boston Seafood Show.

Bristol Bay fisherman, Mili Vukich, enjoys some of the marketing materials at the Boston Seafood Show.

Our group came from different regions and fisheries. But with common desires and pursuits as young fishermen, we are giving tone to our voices.  The first stop on our three city trip was the Boston Seafood Expo 2016, where the big boys and girls are making mass commerce with all forms of seafood.  Our regional processors were present with their showcases of salmon, halibut, cod, pollock, crab, and any other wild Alaskan sea creature you could think of.

While speaking with Julianne Curry, a prominent industry member from Petersburg who is on the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute salmon committee, she said something that was pretty spot on with the impressions that the Expo left with us. She said, “Boston is a big eye-opener that it isn’t about us, it’s about how they present our fish.”  And that can’t be more true.

Walking past one of the Alaska fish processor booths one of our group members was appalled by how Alaska wild salmon was showcased in comparison to the farmed Atlantic salmon.  Within the same booth too!  She expressed how she took such good care of her fish and how she was outraged about the crusty, headless, old, dry frozen salmon being presented in the wild case with it’s neighbor farmed salmon looking moist, perfectly filleted, and presented with pride.

Fishermen from across Alaska on the Young Fishermen's Education Tour visit the ASMI booth at at the Boston Seafood Show.

Fishermen from across Alaska on the Young Fishermen’s Educational Tour visit the ASMI booth at at the Boston Seafood Show.

I myself couldn’t believe the amount of marketing dedicated to farmed fish, specifically salmon, within the Expo.  It must have been a ratio of around 10:1, farmed to wild, but the emphasis on wild was difficult to find in the maze of farmed fish vendors.  Once we had regrouped, mixed chatter resonated many similar concerns; that quality of fishing is just as important as quality of marketing.

But we didn’t furrow our eyebrows the whole three days in Boston. Other great conversations were carried as we met with young fishermen of east coast fisheries, slurped urchins and oysters with local seafood company, Red’s Best, and talked with members of the Cape Cod Fisheries Trust about fisheries access for our communities.  There was a definite air of mutual respect between fishermen and amongst fishermen and fishery defenders.

The group enjoyed getting to know more about local seafood business, Red's Best, during a reception at their headquarters.

The group enjoyed getting to know more about local seafood business, Red’s Best, during a reception at their headquarters.

Though if I think about my greatest take-away from the three days in Boston, it would be the quick camaraderie and in-depth conversations that we are having with one another. It’s impressionable for me to be in a community with other young Alaskan folk who are equally passionate and willing to go the large strides it will take to protect our fishing culture and lifestyle and make positive changes in our regions.  I’m proud to be associated with young people like this.

So with a head full of thoughts and opinions and experiences, we just landed in Washington D.C. for the next leg of our journey.

Young fishermen visit with the CEO of Bambino's Baby Food, Zoi Maroudas-Tziolas , a Symphony of Seafood winner.

Young fishermen visit with the CEO of Bambino’s Baby Food, Zoi Maroudas-Tziolas , a Symphony of Seafood winner.



**Follow along on the Young Fishermen’s Educational Tour on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at #nextgenfishtour.**

Young fishermen learn about fisheries access for communities,  regional fisheries policy , and mission-driven finance in Boston.

Young fishermen learn about fisheries access for communities, regional fisheries policy , and mission-driven finance in Boston.






Thanks to sponsors of the Young Fishermen’s Educational Tour: Salmon Sisters, Edible Alaska, United Fishermen of Alaska, BulletProof Nets, United Cook Inlet Drift Association, Marine Fish Conservation Network and many AMCC members! 



Local fishing, farming groups to bring Greenhorns director to Alaska

Date Posted: September 10, 2015       Categories: Press Releases       Tags: Calendar/Events, Young Fishermen's Network


Local fishing, farming groups to bring Greenhorns director to Alaska
Young Farmers Advocate, Severine von Tscharner Fleming, Embarks on Alaska Speaking Tour

Contact: Samantha Baker, Engagement & Development Director, Alaska Marine Conservation Council
907.277.5357 //

Severine von Tscharner Fleming, director of the young farmers organization, The Greenhorns, is coming to Alaska this September for a 9-day speaking tour and to meet with young farmers and fishermen in Kenai, Homer, Palmer and Anchorage. Fishing and farming groups worked together to bring the farmer, activist and organizer from New York’s Champlain Valley to engage with young Alaskan farmers and fishermen in conversations about their livelihoods and local food.

Fleming’s work and lectures celebrate the entrance of a new generation of farmers into American agriculture, and the rebuilding of regional food sovereignty. Now in its 6th year, Greenhorns focuses on convening in-person networking mixers, conferences and workshops, as well as producing new media and publications for their national network.

In addition to directing the Greenhorns, Fleming also runs the Agrarian Trust, working to build a national network, tools, templates and pilot projects to support new farmers with land access, and opportunity, and address the ownership transition of 400 million acres of US farmland.

“After seeing Severine speak at conferences in the Lower 48 last year, our staff wanted to bring her up to speak with young fishermen in Alaska because of the similarities between challenges faced by young fishermen and young farmers,” said Kelly Harrell, Executive Director of the Alaska Marine Conservation Council (AMCC) and board member of the Alaska Food Policy Council. AMCC is currently working on a multi-year research project with University of Alaska Fairbanks and Alaska Sea Grant called ‘The Graying of the Fleet,’ exploring barriers young fishermen face when entering the industry.

“What we are learning about young fishermen in Alaska seemed to parallel what Severine talks about with young farmers: they face high costs of entering this career path tempered by a love for the lifestyle those jobs create and a real care and stewardship for the sustainable resources these young people are using,” said Harrell.

Fleming’s speaking tour will consist of the following presentations:

  • Friday, September 18th at 7pm: “Growing Local Food Systems: Tales from the Frontlines” presented at the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association in Kenai, AK.
  • Sunday, September 20th at 12pm: “Greenhorns – Lessons of Young Farmers for Young Fishermen” presented at the Homer Council on the Arts in Homer, followed by a conversation and lunch for young fishermen. This event is part of AMCC’s Homer Halibut Festival (September 19-20th).
  • Tuesday, September 22nd at 7pm: “Growing Local Food Systems” presented at the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Matanuska Experiment Farm in Palmer.
  • Wednesday, September 23rd at 7pm: Following Alaska Pacific University’s Farmers Market, Fleming will present at the Carr-Gottstein Lecture Hall at APU in Anchorage.
  • Thursday, September 24th at 3pm: A screening of the Greenhorns documentary film  followed by a discussion with Fleming at the Bear Tooth Theatrepub in Anchorage.

All events are free and open to the public. Severine’s Alaska speaking tour is sponsored by the Alaska Food Policy Council and the Alaska Marine Conservation Council.


A Better Bay: Sustaining local fishing jobs

Date Posted: September 12, 2014       Categories: AMCC Blog AMCC in the News       Tags: Graying of the Fleet Research Project, Young Fishermen's Network

by Rachel Donkersloot

Much of my perspective, direction and good fortune in life can be traced back to my upbringing in Naknek. For someone who has never fished commercially, it was all about the fish. Every job and all revelry governed by the salmon run and the tide. Life in that little town brought endless discovery of old buildings, new trails and increasingly creative ways of trying to get away with something. Anything. So wrapped up in each season, I barely grasped the importance of home in the larger seafood economy. Turns out we’re kind of a big deal. Bristol Bay is one of Alaska’s richest commercial fisheries and provides roughly one-third of all of Alaska’s salmon harvest earnings. The region accounts for 40 percent of the nation’s wild salmon harvest. The best part is the resource and the wealth and well-being that it provides is self-renewing.

Here’s a few more numbers though. Since the inception of limited entry in 1975, local permit ownership has declined from 1,372 to 707. This loss stems from permit transfers to non-locals, but also and increasingly from the out-migration of permit holders from the region. Overall, the region has suffered a net loss of 197 permits since 1975 due to the relocation of permit holders. At the same time, non-resident permit holders have added 260 to their ranks through permit transfers and another 208 permits through migration. Trends toward non-resident permit ownership are exacerbated by a lack of young people entering the industry, a problem commonly referred to as the ‘graying of the fleet.’

Overall, the mean age of a Bristol Bay drift permit holder has only increased from 45.5 years to 47.5 years between 1975 and 2013. Not too bad. The mean age of non-resident drift permit holders has actually decreased since 1975, from 48.3 years to 46.9 years in 2013. This has not been the case for our local drift permit holders, who have seen an increase in mean age from 42.7 years to 50.6 years.

As local permit holders approach retirement age, the potential impacts of succession of access rights on rural livelihoods and coastal economies becomes an increasingly pressing management issue. A lack of local young people entering the industry coupled with the loss of local access and participation in the fishery is disconcerting for many reasons. For starters, young people bring vibrancy, creativity and innovation to a place and an industry. We need engaged young people to help make our communities better, solve the problems we face today, and carry on the ever-changing daily, seasonal and annual practices that give life to local culture and community. Secondly, we know that there is a powerful inter-relationship between commercial and subsistence fisheries and the crucial role that harvesting wild foods plays in maintaining cultural traditions, social identities and food security in rural Alaska. Studies continue to show that households with fishing permits are often also the households that are high producers of subsistence foods and the most important providers in food sharing networks. The intimate entangling of local fishing jobs with these dimensions of local life means that loss of local commercial access extends beyond earned income.

Right now, across Alaska, there are many, many organizations, institutions and communities working to find solutions to sustained local fisheries participation in coastal Alaska. The Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation offers an incredible permit loan program that is helping to put fishing permits back into local hands. The University of Alaska is working closely with state agencies and others to create and implement the Alaska Maritime Workforce Development Plan intended to better prepare Alaskans to meet our maritime workforce needs. The Alaska Marine Conservation Council recently launched the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network, designed to connect young fishermen across the state and identify potential solutions to the specific challenges they face. We are also helping to lead a collaborative research project which focuses on barriers to entry and the ‘graying of the fleet’ in Bristol Bay and Kodiak Island fishing communities. Finally, last summer I spoke with local fishermen in Naknek who had purposely hired local youth, some of whom were entirely green, as crew. Collectively, these efforts are operating at varying scales to create opportunity, enhance inter-generational access and strengthen local participation in local fisheries. This is what makes communities resilient. The problems underlying and arising from the exodus of fishing rights and wealth from our fishing communities are complex, multi-dimensional and diverse. Keeping our communities as strong and healthy as the salmon run takes a lot of work. Ensuring local participation in local fisheries is only one part of what needs to be a multi-faceted approach to enhancing rural livelihoods and local well-being, but it is a vital one.

See the piece in The Bristol Bay Times.

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