Vol. 34, No. 1
Sixty Alaska commercial seafood harvesters upgraded their business smarts during a three-day crash course in managing a modern fishing operation. Skippers and crewmembers from 25 coastal communities participated in the 5th Alaska Young Fishermen’s Summit last month in Anchorage, offered by the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program.
Marine Advisory agents Torie Baker and Sunny Rice have been the lead organizers of the five summits. For the 2013 summit they recruited many industry experts to give presentations. “Alaska’s fisheries leaders are always eager to help,” said Baker. “Cordova’s Jerry McCune, president of United Fishermen of Alaska, was quick to step in as keynote speaker after Bristol Bay gillnetter Robert Heyano had to cancel due to weather.”
Lea Klingert, president of the Commercial Fishing and Agriculture Bank, presented the ins and outs of borrowing money, and Cook Inlet fisherman/CPA Bruce Gabrys tutored attendees on bookkeeping and debt management. The fast-paced conference included sessions on direct marketing, insurance risks, and fisheries management training. Participants were definitely encouraged to get involved in Alaska fisheries management processes.
“We time the summits to coincide with regulatory meetings such as the Alaska Board of Fisheries and North Pacific Fishery Management Council. Participants have an opportunity to see these management venues first hand,” said Rice. “Based on feedback, we change the summit a little every time, but we keep the important basics—markets, business skills, and resource science and management. One of the most popular sessions is how to give effective three-minute oral testimony, a key business skill whether talking to a lender or giving public comment at a meeting. That’s a fun session.”
Attendee Hannah Heimbuch, who is from a multi-generation fishing family on the Kenai Peninsula, took the “involvement” instruction seriously. “When the last cork winds onto the reel in late summer, I need a place in front of a microphone at a Board of Fish meeting. I need a letter that goes from my hands to my legislative representative. I need membership in a fishery organization that represents the causes I believe in,” said Heimbuch in a Homer Tribune article.
The Marine Advisory Program offered the first summit in 2007, with the goal of preparing the next generation of harvesters as they move into fishing businesses that are more expensive and complex than in the past. Since 2007, more than 320 fishermen have honed their business and public participation skills at the summits. Several summit alumni were invited back this time, to talk about modern fishing operations and share perspectives on the future of the industry. Participants networked with peers and fisheries leaders at a reception, where Governor Sean Parnell and Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Cora Campbell addressed a crowd of 100.
Recently CoBank, a national cooperative bank that serves rural businesses, donated $100,000 to the University of Alaska Fairbanks for long-term support of the summit and fishing business training provided by the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program. Said Leili Ghazi, CoBank’s western region president, “We believe we have a responsibility to help those who are just starting out in these industries and the young people who will shape the future. In Alaska, where fishing is such an important part of the state’s economy, it makes good business sense for us to support the professional development of the next generation of commercial fishermen.”
In addition to CoBank, the 2013 summit received support from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, Princess Cruises/Holland America, North Pacific Research Board, Northrim Bank, Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, United Fishermen of Alaska, Alaska Trollers Association, International Pacific Halibut Commission, Pacific Star Seafoods, the Groundfish Forum, Alaska Fisheries Development Association, and many others.
Two student trainees gave presentations on their Alaska Sea Grant–funded research last month. Sean Brennan, UAF PhD student in oceanography, who works with professor Matthew Wooller, gave the presentation "Evaluating the Utility of Strontium (Sr) Isotopes (87Sr/86Sr) to Identify Natal Origins and Track Movement Patterns of Chinook Salmon in the Nushagak River" at the Southwest Alaska Salmon Science Workshop in Anchorage. Brennan is working on the project Developing High-Resolution Strontium Isotope Maps of Alaska Rivers to Track Pacific Salmon Migrations: The Nushagak River as a Case Study to Evaluate Spatial and Seasonal Variability.
Zac Hoyt, UAF PhD student in fisheries working with associate professor Ginny Eckert, gave a presentation at the 20th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals in Dunedin, New Zealand. His talk "The Recolonization of Sea Otters in Southern Southeast Alaska" is coauthored with Verena Gill (USFWS), Tim Tinker (University of California Santa Cruz), and Ginny Eckert. Hoyt works on the project Impacts of Sea Otter Recolonization on Marine Resources and Coastal Communities in Southern Southeast Alaska. His travel was jointly supported with a student travel grant from the UAF Graduate School.
The book Guide to Marine Mammals and Turtles of the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, coauthored by Marine Advisory Program marine mammal specialist Kate Wynne, is the basis for two free smart phone apps recently produced by NOAA: See & ID Dolphins and Whales and Dolphin & Whale 911. The apps are designed to help identify marine mammals and aid in real-time reporting of stranded mammal locations in the southeastern United States. The Dolphin & Whale 911 app includes a mammal identification chart, linked photo sharing, and geo-location information critical for mammal stranding reporting.
Wynne is the author of the popular book Guide to Marine Mammals of Alaska, and her new book Guide to Marine Mammals and Turtles of the U.S. Pacific will be published by Alaska Sea Grant in 2014.