After Near-Cancellation, ComFish Alaska on Upswing

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Maggie Wall/KMXT

There was a time not many years ago, when Kodiak’s annual fisheries trade show seemed to have served out its useful life. But, as KMXT’s Maggie Wall reports, ComFish Alaska appears to have caught a new wave.

–((ComFish 4:26 "Kodiak is a ….continue to be held."))

Kodiak is a fishing town and as such its economy ebbs and wanes like the tides. The Kodiak Chamber of Commerce’s annual commercial fisheries trade show likewise has had its good years and its bad.

More recently the bad years were outnumbering the good to the point that the chamber was re-thinking whether or not to continue the annual event tailored to the fishing industry.

Like many of Kodiak’s fishermen, the chamber has had to re-examine its goals and strategies and adjust to fit a major regime change in the fishing industry.

Based on the results of last week’s ComFish event, it would appear that the chamber’s strategy paid off

–((Trevor on booths selling out :27 sold out on Valentine’s Day."))

That’s the chamber’s executive director, Trevor Brown.

In case you’re not looking at a calendar-a Valentine’s Day sell-out means the booths were accounted for two months ahead of the event. Brown says there were even a few people that wanted booths who couldn’t be accommodated who are on a waiting list for next year’s event.

In recent years, as its changed venues, ComFish has gone to fewer booths for non-profit organizations to a more fish-focused group of venders. That in turn has resulted in a more focused fishing-related customer who truly want to see what the vendors have to show them.:

–((Trevor best year ever :20 "But the people…sales and stuff go."))

But the vendors are just one aspect of ComFish. Another major part is the fisheries forums. Laine Welch coordinates the forums which deal with a wide range of topics and issues of interest to fishermen.

–((Laine extremely favorable :10 "Oh the reaction across…ext favorable."))

While the vendor booths were set up in the new convention center, the forums were held across the street at the Best Western Kodiak Inn.

–((Laine on venue 1:05 "I think that…people are really responding.")

Welch says the most popular forum was the one with Alaska Senator Mark Begich, who she says readily answered questions during and after his speech. In an interesting twist that shows just how important ComFish is as a fishing industry magnet, she notes that Begich wanted to ensure he’d have a spot on the agenda:

–((Laine on Begich :15 "Senator Mark Begich…the fishing industry across."))

Back at the chamber, Trevor Brown said he’s pleased with the revised plan for ComFish and as long as it keeps producing the results, the show will continue to be held.

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