AMCC’s work is centered around the holistic value of dynamic working waterfronts. Thriving subsistence traditions and sustained participation by local people in the state’s commercial fisheries are critical not only to community sustainability in Alaska, but also to fisheries and marine ecosystem health. AMCC is both a leader for and supporter of viable solutions for bolstering healthy working waterfronts, through activities that reflect the complex social, cultural, economic, and ecological needs of our diverse coastal communities. We support local food systems, viable ocean livelihoods, and accessible waterfront infrastructure — integrating a robust conservation ethic into all such pursuits.
As a facet of our investment in the health of Alaska’s marine ecosystems, AMCC puts concerted effort into supporting the next generations of ocean stewards. Sustainable participation in those ecosystems must include adequate, diversified, intergenerational access to fishing opportunities for Alaskan residents and communities. The Alaska Young Fishermen’s Network was formed as a gathering place for such likeminded people.
The Network values principles of mentorship, innovation, stewardship, accountability, and community health in all of its actions. It creates opportunities for young fishermen to develop new skills and connections, build resilient businesses, and be active and positive members of their fishing communities. Ongoing projects include the Fishing Fellowship program and the Young Fishermen’s Almanac. Take a deeper dive and stay up to date on all projects by following the Alaska Fishermen’s Network on social media.
Young Fishermen's Development Act
AMCC has been a primary driver of legislation to establish this program, a national effort to support young fishermen through federal funding for training and educational opportunities. This funding pool would help expand upon current, but very limited, regional efforts underway and initiate a federal program to support our nation’s beginning commercial fishermen and ensure a continuous supply of safe, healthy American seafood to market.
Currently, there is not a single federal program dedicated to training, educating, and assisting the next generation of commercial fishermen and the need could not be greater. Without a new generation of fishermen, consumer access to domestically-caught seafood will disappear along with fishing jobs, and portside infrastructure.
The program is modeled after the USDA’s successful Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, which Congress enacted several years ago to ensure the future of that industry. That program is credited with preparing hundreds of young farmers and ranchers for industry careers.
The Future of Fisheries
Food harvesters around the globe are aging, with fewer young people entering into those industries. From farming to fishing, the cost to access methods of food production is increasing, while opportunities shrink as a result of the consolidation of our food system under the guise of efficiency. At AMCC, we find that trend to be alarming. Localized stewardship is a core tenant of what makes an ecosystem healthy and resilient, and local foods are the foundation of Alaska’s coastal communities. Our efforts to support working waterfronts combine dynamic social science with action to bolster the long-term success of community-based fishermen. Read on to learn more about our initiatives, and check out the Fisheries Conservation tab to learn about the policy arenas we navigate to help nourish the fate of the ocean’s dwellers.
“The almanac serves as a cultural touchstone for a community that not a lot of people outside of that community can find a window into. So for people who fish it’s a really great community builder. People who don’t participate can get a window into this livelihood and why it’s important and worth preserving.”
-Working Waterfronts Director, Jamie O'Connor
The first volume of the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Almanac was published in late 2017, with the help of the Alaska Humanities Forum. The second volume was released in late 2019 and like its predecessor, it has been wildly popular. Each Almanac captures the ingenuity, humor, persistence, passion, and talent of Alaska’s rising fishermen through stories, poems, recipes, photographs and more!