Oil & Gas Drilling

ALFA Members, 

Earlier this year, the Trump Administration released the 2019-2024 National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Draft Proposed Program (DPP).  The DDP proposes to offer all areas of the Alaska coastline from the Beaufort Sea to Southeast Alaska for oil and gas leasing, with the exception of Bristol Bay.  The DPP is the first stage of the OCS leasing process for regulating offshore oil and gas activities, and it determines which areas will be made available for leasing and establish a sale schedule. 

COMMENTS on the areas offered for lease are open until MARCH 9, 2018. The Department of the Interior needs to hear from fishermen about risking Alaska’s renewable permanent fund—our incredible fisheries—for non-renewable oil. Please note that Alaska’s Governor and Congressional delegation have called for OCS oil exploration to be limited to Cook Inlet and the Beaufort and Chukchi Sea; they have also specifically asked that the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska be removed from further oil and gas leasing consideration. Fishermen need to support the delegations’ ask relative to the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska by submitting comments to the Secretary of Interior before the March 9th deadline.

Below is a draft letter to inform your comments.

You can send comments to by regular mail to: 

Ms. Kelly Hammerle, Chief
National Oil and Gas Leasing Program Development and Coordination Branch, Leasing Division
Office of Strategic Resources, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
45600 Woodland Road, Sterling, VA

You can also submit comments on the Internet through the Regulations.gov web portal by navigating to http://www.regulations.gov and under the Search tab, type in Docket ID:  BOEM-2017-0074 to submit comments.

Sample Letter: 

Dear Secretary Zinke,

I participate in Alaska salmon, halibut and/or sablefish fisheries.  Collectively, these fisheries are worth over half a billion dollars a year in ex-vessel value alone. 

I request that you remove all potential sales in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska planning areas from the Draft Proposed Program. The Alaska planning areas in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska encompass some of the world’s most productive marine ecosystems and together form the breadbasket of Alaska’s fisheries. Coastal Alaska communities depend on the fishery resources contained in these ecosystems. Overall, coastal communities in Alaska account for 58 percent of all seafood landings and 29 percent of all seafood value harvested in the United States. In fact, Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea fishing ports in the proposed lease sale planning areas are eleven of the top thirty ports in the United States in terms of both fishery value and volume.

Offshore oil and gas development would increase noise, water and air pollution, vessel traffic, and threaten the clean waters and healthy ecosystems essential for fish production and marketing of Alaska’s fish.

Do not place our fisheries and our communities at risk. Remove all potential sales in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea from any further consideration of oil and gas development.




Click here to view a letter submitted by ALFA members pertaining to offshore oil & gas drilling in Alaska. 

Sablefish Summit, Bathymetric Map roll out next week!

On March 6th and 7th, ALFA will host educational events including a roll out of the latest ALFA bathymetric charts, an AMSEA course, and (co-hosted with NOAA and ADF&G) the Sitka Sablefish Summit, featuring presentations on the status and management of sablefish stocks in both State and Federal waters. The federal sablefish component will also include a pre-summit small group discussion of the future sablefish apportionment process. 

See below for more details: 


Educational talks & workshops: March 6th, 2018- Karsch Classroom, Sitka Sound Science Center

  • Noon: AMSEA course: ""How to Avoid Being Large Ship Road Kill!"
  • 1PM: Sablefish Apportionment process discussion 
  • 3PM: 2018 ALFA Bathymetric Mapping data roll out & workshop (with explanation of data sources, data management process, and opportunity to sign up to get your data if you are an ALFA member who meets the criteria)

Sablefish Summit: March 7th, 2018- University of Alaska Sitka, Room 106

1PM to 5PM

ADFG representatives will talk with stakeholders about the NSEI state fishery. There will also be presentations on the Gulf of Alaska federal sablefish stock by federal stock assessment scientists. Individuals unable to attend in person can call in from any location, and if they have a computer, smartphone, and/or tablet can attend the web conference with instructions here. 

The following agenda items will be presented at the meeting:

  • NSEI fishery and stock assessment updates
  • NSEI sablefish quota decrements
  • NSEI future survey and fieldwork
  • Gulf of Alaska federal sablefish fishery stock status and whale depredation corrections.


    ALFA Seeks Applicants for Deckhand Apprenticeship Program

    Photo: Eric Jordan

    February 8th 2018

    Local Fishing Group Seeks Applicants for Deckhand Apprenticeship Program

    The Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association (ALFA), a Sitka-based fishing group, is seeking applicants for its budding Crewmember Apprenticeship Program. Through a safe and well-guided entry level experience, the program aims to provide young people an opportunity to gain experience in, as well as an understanding of, commercial fishing and its importance to supporting coastal communities

    In late 2017, ALFA was awarded a $70,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to expand this program in Sitka and support efforts to launch similar programs in other parts of the state. The grant, leveraged with support from the City of Sitka and ALFA members, was awarded as part of NFWF’s Fisheries Innovation Fund. According to NFWF, “the work funded by these grants will result in improved management that strengthens the welfare of fishermen and local communities, promoting healthy fish stocks and healthy fisheries.”

    Over the past three years, Sitka-based fisherman Eric Jordan of the F/V I Gotta has introduced over 40 young people to commercial fishing as part of the program. On the water, Jordan teaches his deckhands the intricacies of commercial salmon trolling while demonstrating sustainable fishing practices and encouraging a strong conservation ethic. 

    “The future of our fisheries is dependent on young fishermen learning to love and care for the fish we harvest and the habitat essential to their well being,” said Jordan. “Our generation’s legacy will be defined how we, as Alaskan fishermen, rebuilt and enhanced our fisheries, and how we mentored the next generation.”

    According to “Turning the Tide”, a report recently publicized by SeaGrant, North Pacific Research Board, and the Alaska Marine Conservation Council about the “graying” Alaskan fleet, deckhand apprenticeships are recommended as one way to attract younger entrants into an industry where the average age is over 50. Over the next two years, ALFA plans to expand its program to include more vessels, skippers, and crewmembers. ALFA will take lessons learned and help other communities replicate its model.

    "With support from NFWF, we plan to expand the program to include more boats, crew, and communities," says Linda Behnken, Executive Director of ALFA. "Giving young people an introduction to Alaska's commercial fisheries will help sustain our fishing communities and create the next generation of resource stewards."

    For now, the organization is seeking deckhand applicants to head out fishing this season.  Crewmember applications close on March 1st, 2018. Applicants must be over 18 years of age. Application information can be found at http://www.alfafish.org/apprenticeship/

    Questions? Contact Alyssa at alfa.outreach@gmail.com


    ALFA Receives Grant to Improve Longline EM Program

    The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Kingfisher Foundation announced a third-year round of funding for the Electronic Monitoring and Reporting Grant Program projects, awarding a total of more than $3.59 million in grants.

    The 12 awards announced generated $3.15 million in match from the grantees, providing a total conservation impact of more than $6.75 million. The Electronic Monitoring and Reporting Grant Program seeks to catalyze the implementation of electronic technologies in U.S. fisheries in order to systematically integrate technology into fisheries data collection and modernized data management systems for improved fisheries management.

    ALFA was awarded a NFWF Award Amount of $577,959, with Matching Funds of $600,000 for a grand total amount of $1,177,959. ALFA will improve Alaska’s longline electronic monitoring program for vessels participating in sablefish, halibut and Pacific cod fixed gear fisheries by providing electronic monitoring hardware, field service support for vessels, and support for stakeholder engagement. The project will result in electronic monitoring of up to 120 hook and line vessels that will reduce bycatch and improve the utility of electronic monitoring data for fishermen and fishery managers.

    Read more here. 

    ALFA Meeting January 12th

    The Alaska Longline Fishermen's Association (ALFA) will hold a meeting on Friday, January 12th from 4-6 PM at the Sitka Sound Science Center's Karsch Classroom. 

    The agenda will include a discussion of halibut stocks and catch limits, regulatory proposals, a new harvest policy for the IPHC, and 2018 Board of Fisheries finfish proposals. 

    The meeting is open to the public. New members welcome! Light refreshments will be provided. 

    Questions?  Call Linda at 907-738-3615

    New IPHC Website launched

    A letter from David T. Wilson, Ph.D. Executive Director, IPHC: 

    I am pleased to announce that the IPHC Secretariat launched our new website on Friday, 15 December 2017: http://iphc.int/.

    The new website is the culmination of a year long project by IPHC Secretariat staff which commenced on 15 September 2016, when the IPHC Secretariat chartered a website improvement team with members from the Seattle-based staff. The team’s focus was on improving the distribution of public domain information.

    In November 2016, support for the team’s efforts were enhanced by ensuring funding was available to hire a professional website designer. In February 2017, the IPHC Secretariat entered into a partnership with Efelle Creative to redesign our website. Immediately after entering into the partnership with Efelle Creative, the team worked on the new website design for five months. In addition to the new design, the Seattle-based staff went through a full review of website content prior to publishing on our new website.

    Our new website has five categories of content which include ‘The Commission, Science and Research, Fisheries, Data, Meetings, and Documents’. The Meetings section of our website contains all the information about the Commission and its subsidiary body meetings including meeting documents, agenda, schedule, and registration links. Additionally, IPHC publications, meeting documents, and reports can be found and downloaded from the Documents section of the website. The Seattle-based staff will continue to develop different ways to publish data and statistics for our stakeholders. This is evident through our interactive maps and our online fishery-independent setline survey data query. Areas we are still developing will be indicated on the website as such.


    Yours sincerely

    David T. Wilson, Ph.D. Executive Director, IPHC

    Behnken chosen to be part of statewide climate action team

    December 12, 2017 JUNEAU — Governor Bill Walker today appointed the 15 public members and five exofficio members of the Climate Action for Alaska Leadership Team, established in October by Administrative Order 289. Governor Walker announced the team following an extensive internal review of nearly 100 applications. The team will focus on mitigation, adaptation, research, and response for Alaska.

    Among members chosen was ALFA Executive Director, Linda Behnken

    “Naming our team is another critical step in advancing meaningful climate policy,” Governor Walker said. “I am proud to present a motivated group of leaders, each of whom brings a range of expertise and interests to the table. Our team members not only represent a breadth of experience across the state from the North Slope to the Southeast, but also have strong networks and resources spanning from Alaska to the rest of the world, giving us a voice in the global dialogue on climate change.”

    View the full press release here. 

    ​​​​​​​Linda Behnken honored by Alaska State Legislature

    Linda Behnken, Executive Director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association (ALFA) and a Sitka-based commercial fisherman, was recently granted an honorarium by the Thirtieth Alaska Legislature for her work protecting our local, regional, and national small-boat fisheries and coastal communities. 

    Behnken was awarded the honorarium during a “Gearing up to 40 years” reception in Sitka last week, attended by ALFA’s supporters, funders, and local fishermen and featuring seafood prepared by award-winning Juneau chef, Lionel Uddipa. The award comes on the heels of Behnken’s national recognition last year as a “Champion of Change for Sustainable Seafood” by the White House.

    "Linda is a down-to-earth, hard-working Alaska mom and fisherman who cares about our oceans and sustainable rural economies and bring ferocious political efficacy to bear on her work," said Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, who represents Sitka and surrounding rural communities. "She’s employed innovative strategies to advance marine conservation and strengthen small-boat, community-based fisheries. She has a history of collaborating with diverse stakeholders and bringing fishermen to work together with scientists to solve conservation and management challenges."

    In addition to honoring Behnken, the reception was hosted to celebrate forty years of ALFA’s leadership in fishery conservation locally and nationally. Founded in 1978, the organization spearheaded efforts to eliminate foreign fishing on sablefish and rockfish stocks in the 70s, supported an aggressive rebuilding schedule for depleted sablefish stocks in the 80s, and lead the battle to eliminate trawling from Southeast Alaska waters in the 90s. Linda has acted as Executive Director since 1991.  

    Under her leadership, ALFA has received recognition nationally for its role as a leader in fishermen-led advocacy in support of coastal fisheries and communities.

    “Linda has taught me that while the fish in the Gulf of Alaska may be different from the fish in the Gulf of Mexico, our battles are the same.” says Eric Brazer, Deputy Director at the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance. Brazer works with ALFA as part of the Fishing Communities Coalition, a national coalition of small boat fishing organizations. “Through her leadership at the Fishing Communities Coalition, we can chart a better course for tomorrow’s commercial fishermen.”

    To celebrate forty years of advocacy, forty donors contributed to support ALFA’s Fishery Conservation Network, a program started by Behnken that engages fishermen and scientists in a range of conservation projects. The reception wrapped up the Sitka Fishermen’s Expo, a weeklong event hosted by ALFA and the Sitka Seafood Festival, which provided workshops, educational events, and networking opportunities for commercial fishermen and the public.

    When asked about the award, Behnken said, “I am humbled, amazed, and more than a little overwhelmed. Really the accolades belong to the entire ALFA Team--staff, board and members--and to the incredible community that supports us. My inspiration comes from all of you.”


    The Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association is an alliance of small boat, commercial fishermen committed to sustainable fisheries and thriving coastal communities. Our members support science-based fisheries management through collaborative research, advocacy and innovation. We work to safeguard ocean health and improve the economic viability of small boat fishing. For our members, commercial fishing is more than a livelihood; it's a way of life.


    Need a deckhand?

    ALFA Members, 

    We have received several requests from potential crew who are interested in participating in our crewmember apprenticeship program. We are now looking for experienced skippers to match them with. If you are looking for crew for next season, are interested in taking someone out for any period of time, or are just interested in getting involved, please contact Alyssa at alfa.outreach@gmail.com


    Thank you!