Identifying training needs of new Alaska fishermen

Dungeness Crab fishing in south Wrangell Narrows. Photo by Deborah Mercy.

Alaska’s seafood industry is the economic backbone of many coastal communities. Seafood harvesting jobs pay well, and yet getting into the business is not easy. Commercial fishing demands a range of skills from business know-how to mechanics and an understanding of regulatory and safety requirements. The success and sustainability of the fishing industry depends on a well-trained workforce.

With funding from National Sea Grant, Alaska Sea Grant launched a new project to address the challenges facing the next generation of fishermen by scoping regional training needs. The project, called Food from the Sea: Supporting the Next Generation of Alaska’s Seafood Harvesters and Growers, will inform future efforts and is spurred by the Young Fishermen’s Development Act, legislation supported by Alaska’s congressional delegation.

Alaska Sea Grant hosted listening sessions in December to gather information from stakeholders involved in fisheries workforce development across Alaska. Additional sessions will take place in February and March to solicit input from established and new fishermen and the organizations that represent them. These listening sessions will identify existing and needed resources and training to support new fishermen in Alaska.

a pile of salmon
A young fishermen’s catch in Cordova. Getty Images.

Next for this project will be to translate needs into strategies. Together with statewide partners, Alaska Sea Grant will develop training plans that compliment or leverage existing workforce development efforts. Findings and products will be shared widely to inform training efforts in Alaska and beyond.

Alaska Sea Grant has a long history supporting and training new fishermen. Our offerings include the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Summit, crew training courses, and the FishBiz website, which shares resources and business tools for commercial seafood harvesters. Tribal, community and nonprofit organizations have also been supporting their members and fleets. Still, training gaps exist, and Alaska Sea Grant is identifying those needs and developing strategies to meet them.

If you would like to provide input at one of the upcoming listening sessions, please contact Alaska Sea Grant’s Gabe Dunham or Sunny Rice. The next listening sessions are scheduled for Monday, February 28, at 3:00 pm, and Tuesday, March 1, at 10:00 am.