UAF Study Researches the “Graying” of Alaska’s Fisheries

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Danielle Ringer, researcher on the Next Generation of Fisherman Study. Via Alaska Sea Grant

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The aging of the fishing industry is a source of concern to coastal communities and some employers who wonder where they’ll get new workers when their current ones retire. A research project that focuses on Bristol Bay and the Kodiak Archipelago hopes to analyze this issue in an ongoing study, and a researcher from the study will share its progress at a lecture tonight at the Baranov Museum.

University of Alaska Fairbanks graduate student, Danielle Ringer, is the research assistant on the Kodiak portion of the Next Generation of Fishermen Study, which began in May 2014. Among the project’s objectives is to collect data on young people’s views of fishery careers and to analyze factors in attracting newcomers.

One of the methods of doing that is to talk to a whole range of people involved in the fishing industry.

“Yes, the project is looking at the next generation of fishermen and that means youth and new entrants, but I think to understand that issue, you need to talk to the experienced folks," says Ringer. "You need to learn about what fishing was like many years ago when they first got in and to be able to make comparisons to how that is now.”

Ringer says she’s done interviews with fifty-one people so far, at least one from every gear group and fishery in Kodiak. She says she’ll be visiting Old Harbor and Ouzinkie to conduct more interviews and bring a student survey to the schools there.

The research team is currently working on preparations to talk with students around Kodiak and discuss their views of the fishing industry.

Ringer says one of the study’s objectives is to make policy recommendations, which may come from community members and experienced fishermen or existing models abroad.

“There’s a lot of different fisheries policies and things like that that have been sort of created to address the graying of the fleet internationally," says Ringer. "And so if we can look at those, figure out what is our set of possible tools that we can use and what would work in these communities perhaps.”

Ringer will give an update on the project at a lecture tonight at the Baranov Museum. It will begin at 7 p.m.

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