Kodiak workshop helps fishing community build resilience

overlooking Kodiak harbor, with mountains and dramatic clouds
Kodiak, Alaska. Photo by Davin Holen/Alaska Sea Grant.

More than 70 people gathered in Kodiak recently for a workshop to address how the island community can build resilience and adaptability in the face of climate change.

The October 24–25, 2019 workshop focused on four topics identified by a local steering committee: fisheries futures, food security and subsistence, infrastructure and energy, and culture and wellness. Organizers allotted a half-day session for each topic, which included presentations and small-group discussions aimed at generating new ideas.

In the first session, participants brainstormed what Kodiak can do to monitor local ocean and river conditions, and how to prepare for changes in fisheries as species shift in location, population size and in other ways.

“Having a diverse fishing fleet is one of Kodiak’s strengths,” said Switgard Duesterloh, a Kodiak-based scientist with Alaska Ecological Resource Services.

Danielle Ringer listens during the workshop
Fisheries social scientist Danielle Ringer of the University of Alaska Fairbanks listens to a presentation at Adapt Kodiak workshop. Photo courtesy Kodiak Area Native Association.

If a boat specializes in one fishery, “a shift in abundance or distribution of the target species can mean a devastating season for the boat. If the boat is involved in several fisheries, one loss can be compensated by better success with another species. There is good news: Kodiak’s fishing fleet is the most diverse in the state, meaning that overall as a community, Kodiak is more resilient,” wrote Duesterloh in a recent column in the Kodiak Daily Mirror.

The afternoon’s discussions centered around food security and subsistence, with participants sharing ideas for how to grow and process more food locally, and how to provide opportunities for more local markets.

“On the second day, as we looked at the wind turbines overlooking the city, we talked about infrastructure and energy.  The City of Kodiak meets over 98 percent of its energy needs through wind and hydropower. That’s incredibly positive and serves as an example for other Alaska communities, many of which rely on diesel for generating electricity,” said organizer Davin Holen, coastal community resilience specialist with Alaska Sea Grant.

Davin Holen at a podium with attendees in the audience
Davin Holen of Alaska Sea Grant presents at the Adapt Kodiak workshop. Photo by Julie Matweyou/Alaska Sea Grant.

Participants in the Adapt Kodiak workshop then discussed on how to bring innovation to energy production in other communities on Kodiak island.

The workshop concluded with discussions on culture and wellness.

“This topic really brought home the goal of finding ways to build a more livable, equitable, and healthy island community for the future. After some moving presentations, the group discussed how to build more connections locally through festivals, community centers, and other efforts, recognizing that the strength of Kodiak is diversity. It was a great discussion,” Holen said.

Outside corner of the Afognak Center building in Kodiak
The Afognak Center provided the venue for the Adapt Kodiak workshop Photo by Davin Holen/Alaska Sea Grant.

 A short workshop report will be forthcoming.

“We hope the conversations started at this event will be continued,”Holen added.

Alaska Sea Grant, co-sponsored the workshop sponsors with the  University of Alaska Fairbanks College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, the Aleutian Bering Sea Initiative, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Western Alaska Landscape Conservation Cooperative.