Fifty fishermen from around the state gathered in Juneau in January for the eighth Alaska Young Fishermen’s Summit (AYFS) for three days of training, networking and interacting with the Alaska State Legislature. Participants of the Alaska Sea Grant event were self-selected or sponsored by their fishing organization, skipper or CDQ group and came from Atka, the Pribilof Islands, Bristol Bay, Prince William Sound, Kodiak, King Cove, Homer, Sitka, Petersburg, Juneau, Anchorage, Girdwood, Fairbanks and Ester.
The goal of AYFS is to educate new commercial fishermen in the land-based aspects of running a sustainable commercial fishing operation. Topics this year included financial management, seafood markets, understanding the science and management of commercial fisheries, participating in the commercial fisheries regulatory process, and basic safety information. Over the three days, participants also developed valuable networks with each other and with industry leaders, which will serve them in their future businesses.
Bank professionals, accountants, insurance representatives, and seafood retailers provided participants with practical information about running a modern commercial fishing business. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan provided welcome addresses by video, and Jim Hubbard of the F/V Kruzof, a freezer longliner and supporter of AYFS since its inception in 2007, provided the keynote address.
Interactive sessions included a game-show-style introduction to the Alaska Board of Fisheries, field trips to the University of Alaska Fisheries Laboratory at Lena Point, the NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center, and to the State Capitol to meet with legislators and observe state government at work. Spirited discussions continued throughout the event, during sessions and social events, on topics including direct marketing, the importance of local and traditional knowledge in fisheries management, and when and how to buy into new fisheries.
Alaska Sea Grant thanks all the AYFS sponsors, led by CoBank, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, Princess Cruise Lines, Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation, Cordova District Fishermen United, and Aleutian Pribilof Islands Community Development Association. Additional sponsors making the event possible were North Pacific Research Board, Dan Hull, Paula Cullenberg, Seafood Producers Cooperative, Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association, Bristol Bay Economic Development Association, Aleutian East Borough, Alaska Commercial Fishing Agriculture Bank, and Alaska Boats and Permits, Inc.