Commercial fishing has changed a lot through the years. It’s harder to be successful.
Successful fishing ventures require a knowledge of regulations, the public process, and a network of others in the fishing industry who can lead the way.
Enter the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Summit.
The fast-paced and information-packed event is presented by the Alaska Sea Grant College and will be held in Juneau Jan. 21-23.
As we learn in this interview with the Sea Grant’s Sunny Rice, it provides young commercial fishermen and women with the nuts and bolts of the onshore aspects of fishing.
Young Fishermen’s Summit (interview) Click arrow to listen or continue on to read transcript.
Rice: “I sort of ended up calling it the land base aspects of running. Yeah, a modern commercial fishing operation that we last this has been talking for a long time about, it’s a business. This is a small business that you’re running. And so there are things that you know, financial things you need to be aware of, and understanding where you are in the markets and watching out for your, you know, long term, prospects within the regulatory process. So, yeah, that’s, that’s where we started in 2007. So we’ve been doing it for a while now.”
Wall: “And so what has the reception been if it’s 2007, that’s been 10 or 12 years ago. So the people that went through it the first couple of years have either had good results or not. So do you do follow up with them?”
Rice: “A few years back, we did a follow up survey, not we weren’t able to get a giant sample size, but a decent one. All but one person had continued along and commercial fishing. So we thought that was positive.
“We are really excited whenever we see them starting to, you know, hear about them testifying at board official meetings, or we’ve got some alumni that have started up their own fishing association or are now the presidents of their fishing associations or are getting elected to their local hoverboards or city council. So I can’t give you statistics on that, because we don’t have, you know, absolute follow up with everybody. But I think we’re starting to make it’s been almost after this summit, I think we’ll probably have over 500 participants over these last seven summits and this is our eighth. So I think we’re, I think we’re starting to make a little bit of a dent In changing, you know, or I guess maybe allowing them to network with each other and get more involved and, and maybe professionalizing the attitude towards commercial fishing, I hope.”
Wall: “So who are the people that apply and go to this are the people that are just fishermen? Are they thinking I maybe I should go? Or do they go grudgingly. Or are they thinking oh yeah, I really need this or probably a bit of everything?
Rice: “Well, you know, that’s completely you know, voluntary to go so it’s, it’s not grudgingly it’s we are targeting people who are committed to fishing so you know, our ideal participant I guess is a permit holder, or you know, crew that are that are you know, planning on it. So we planning on it seriously getting involved. We’re not talking generally high school age kids, we’re usually talking 20s 30s, early 40s. We don’t put a time limit on it, their age limit on it so people can come at any age, but we say new to the business may be in it for less than five years.
“But we do do a good chunk on the fisheries regulatory process, and so people who’ve been maybe fishing a little bit longer, but are starting to think about, I need to get involved in the board of fish or I need to get involved in the council. We get those kind of people too.”
Wall: “Now coming up, this is coinciding with the beginning of the legislative session. that’s intentional?”
Rice: “Yep. So we have in the past we’ve put on the gang fishermen summit every other year, and alternating between Anchorage and Juneau. So when we do it in Anchorage, we time it to coincide with the North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting. And then when we do it in Juneau, we do it to coincide with the legislative session.
“So we’ll, we’ll spend some time setting up appointments so that folks can go talk to their legislators and hear from folks with expertise, and you know, how to get your point across in the legislature, and issues they should be watching in the Alaska State Legislature. So yeah, we’re excited to add that component in when we’re down there in Juneau. For sure.”
That was KMXT’s Maggie Wall speaking with Sunny Rice who is one of the organizers of the January event.
For more information, go to Alaska Sea Grant’s website.