Tomorrow marks the start of the 34th annual ComFish here in Kodiak. The event is Alaska’s largest commercial fishery trade show, and dozens of vendors are set to pack the Kodiak Harbor Convention Center to showcase their goods and services.
“We have a full venue again, we’ve been turning people away for a month and a half.”
That’s Kodiak Chamber of Commerce Director Trevor Brown. The Chamber organizes ComFish each year and Brown said they try to get a good balance of government agencies, informational booths and businesses selling equipment. All total Brown said there will be about 44 vendors this year.
Brown said this year’s ComFish will also feature a new event, one aimed at highlighting the skills of local seafood processors.
“And it’s our processor filleting competition. Each of the processors is going to send their top person and we’re going to have a fillet-off. They’re going to be doing I believe round fish and flatfish and we’re going to have three judges there to see who does it the fastest with the least amounts of loss and cuts and all that good stuff. So that ought to be a really interesting event.”
The fillet competition will take place on Saturday, starting at 11 a.m., outside the Kodiak Harbor Convention Center.
ComFish also includes a variety of forums, typically focused on topics related to the fishing industry. Laine Welch helps organize the forum component each year, and said there are quite a few to look forward to.
“There’s a wide range. I was thrilled that Andy Wink, the lead seafood analyst at the McDowell Group in Juneau will be here to talk about Alaska seafood market trends, where in the world alaska’s fish goes, observer updates and also information on the electronic monitoring projects that Alaska fishermen are helping to get out on the water. Preserving working water fronts – as we go through bycatch reduction, some sort of catch share program, how can we make sure that we preserve our vibrant community and keep the fish coming here. The Alaska Marine Conservation Council is bringing a panel of people from elsewhere to share their experiences and ideas.”
Welch said those are just a few of the many forums that will be taking place during all three days of this year’s event.
In the past, ComFish has often featured political debates, but this year the scheduling of other statewide meetings, and the fact that the legislature is still in session prevented those from happening. Welch said debates between Senate and Gubernatorial Candidates are still being planned here in Kodiak, but the dates for each have yet to be firmed up.
Still, a handful of politicians should be making appearances throughout ComFish, including current Senator Mark Begich, who will hold an open meeting Thursday at 2:45 p.m.
ComFish 2014 kicks off at 10 a.m. tomorrow and will run through Saturday with different events and forums scheduled each day.