Senator Lisa Murkowski Cancels Sitka Trip

In a tweet posted on Sept. 5, 2019 from Senator Lisa Murkowski’s Twitter account (@lisamurkowski) she announced, “Unfortunately we have to cancel today’s Mobile Office in Sitka due to flight cancellations. While my staff would have loved to be there in person, just a reminder on one way Alaskans can connect with my office — by reaching out via my website here:”

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Direct Marketer's Resource Guide

Jennifer Nu provided us with the Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition and Ecotrust resource guide that acts as a direct market fishermen toolkit. This resource guide was developed to support fishermen interested in direct marketing, alternative marketing, or community supported fisheries (CSFs) in Alaska. It is intended to draw together a diverse array of information and tools that exist to help direct marketers/CSFs get started and succeed. This guide does not constitute an endorsement of any of the resources, organizations, agencies, businesses listed below.

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Alaska Charts the Course for America’s Young Fishermen

Along America’s coastlines, fishing communities face stiff headwinds when it comes to providing in-place economic opportunities for young people. Nowhere is this more evident than Alaska.

The problem: Today’s commercial fishermen are approaching retirement age with few young fishermen to replace them. The average age of Alaska’s fishery permit holders is now 50, up from an average of 40 in 1980. This troubling dynamic, which is not unique to our state, poses a serious and growing challenge to America’s fishing economies and the jobs that depend on them.

Alaskans can attest that this “graying of the fleet” does not reflect a lack of interest in fishing careers, but rather high entry barriers facing young commercial fishermen. We have seen this in the tremendous response to our growing efforts to engage and train the next generation of fishermen. Young people want to get out on the water, but they need opportunities to acquire a diverse set of skills, ranging from navigation and diesel mechanics to fisheries regulations and business management. Of course, they must also be good at catching fish!

Breaking down these high barriers to entry demands a serious and coordinated national response. That’s why the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association (ALFA) is proud to be a member of the national Fishing Communities Coalition (FCC), a group of conservation-minded commercial fishing organizations that is working to advance legislation to address this problem.

The bipartisan Young Fishermen’s Development Act (YFDA), which is inspired in part by Alaska’s growing community-based efforts, has been introduced in both the House (H.R.1240) and Senate (S.496). The legislation, which has picked up bipartisan and multi-coastal co-sponsors in both houses of Congress, establishes the first national grant program to support initiatives to educate, train, and mentor young and beginning fishermen. ALFA is grateful that Alaska’s Senators Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski and Representative Don Young have taken a leadership role in this critical effort. The legislation was examined at a recent U.S. House Natural Resources Committee hearing.

The YFDA’s $2 million annual budget —which is fully funded using fines paid by fishermen who have violated rules — gives fishing associations, universities, tribal organizations, and others the opportunity to compete for grant funding to train young commercial fishermen. The grants cannot be used to purchase fishing permits, quota, or other harvesting rights.

Alaskans can attest that this approach works. As the severity of the “graying of the fleet” challenge in our community grew, ALFA connected with a local skipper, Eric Jordan, who took aspiring young fishermen on as crew and dedicated his valuable time to teaching and training them on the job. We worked with Eric to advance a common goal: providing motivated young people with safe and well-guided real-world experience in commercial fishing, the lifestyle it provides, and the vital role it plays in supporting coastal communities.

With Eric’s help and support from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Fishery Innovation Fund and the City of Sitka, AK, ALFA launched a crewmember apprentice program. In each of the past two years, over 100 young people have applied to the program. This is far more than we can accommodate, and highlights both young people’s strong interest in commercial fishing careers and the demand for more entry-level opportunities. One participant, Mackenzie Gilliam, observed: “As a woman, I think it is sometimes difficult for men to take you seriously when it comes to doing physical work. This program is helping women get a foot in the door in the fishing industry and proving that we can do the job just as well as anyone else.”

As an organization representing independent, community-based fishermen, ALFA is committed to working with the FCC to support the next generation of fishermen. Federal funding to sustain our program and support the launch of similar programs in other communities will make that possible.

The Young Fishermen’s Development Act will help equip the next generation of commercial fishermen to support our nation’s sustainable fisheries and the coastal communities that rely upon them. The Act will also ensure American-caught seafood continues to be served in homes and restaurants across our country.

Supporting our nation’s young fishermen through the Young Fishermen’s Development Act is a solid investment in our fishing communities and in our country.

Linda Behnken is Executive Director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association, a member of the Fishing Communities Coalition.

UFA Alert: New Vessel Registration Requirements Update

Update on Derelict Vessel Bill Requirements:

Thank you for your patience as we sorted out the logistics of this new law requiring vessels to register with the DMV. 

In short, SEAFA’s original email was accurate and the new law applies as follows:

USCG Documented Vessels are required to register with the DMV; however, you do not need to receive a title.Undocumented vessels must register and receive a title at the DMV.After speaking with Major Chastain of the Alaska Wildlife Troopers he said their main objective this year will be to educate first and enforce second.

Communication was held with the Director of Department of Motor Vehicles to educate staff regarding this new law and the requirements. We understand there has been confusion in the issuing of registrations and we hope this has been resolved.

I spoke with Senator Micciche and informed him of the issues we are having with this bill. He is hopeful that legislation can be introduced next year to change the language to include exemption for vessels registered through CFEC.

Thanks again for your patience and understanding. Please let me know if you have any difficulties or questions.

Frances Leach
Executive Director
United Fishermen of Alaska

DOCUMENTED BOATSDon’t forget to renew your USCG Documentation – this registration does not take the place of your documentation from the USCG – it is in addition to.DO NOT TITLE your boat with the State of Alaska – only file for registration.Only place on your boat the square registration decal – do not place any additional AK numbers.You will need to take a copy of your Document into the State DMV office when registering.

Study: Fishery consolidation in Alaska leaves fishermen vulnerable



Seafood Source: “Alaskan commercial fishermen are specializing more and more, leaving them more vulnerable to the immense uncertainty fishermen have to contend with, according to a new study.

Targeting a diverse array of fish types in different regions can allow fishermen to weather the ups and downs instigated by fish population changes, new regulations, deflating markets and environmental disasters. But fishermen in Alaska are increasingly specializing. Fewer fishermen are on the water than three decades ago, and those who remain are participating in fewer fisheries, according to the study, which was published in Fish and Fisheries.”

To read the whole article on Seafood Source, follow this link:

Fisheries Scientists recommend recreational fishing policy reform

A March 2019 article identifies a need to rethink management of recreation fisheries, including improved data collection and monitoring. While commercial fisheries provide for most global seafood production, the authors explain that in many areas sport fisheries now equal or exceed harvests of some fish species, particularly wild fish stocks in coastal and marine fisheries. Sport fishermen catch 47 billion fish annually at a global level - half released alive and half harvested for food.

The article identifies increasing conservation concerns and socio-economic issues that warrant changes to current management systems which do not adequately lead to sustainability, address stakeholder conflicts, or provide the most desirable experience for sport fishermen. The scientists recommend five policy reforms to improve the sustainability of recreational fishing:

(1) a switch from managing recreational fisheries for yield in terms of food and income to bio-economic management targets for quality fishing experiences;

(2) increased engagement by sport fishing organizations in management processes with a primary goal of cooperative management and conservation rather than a focus on securing access rights;

(3) policy diversity for different ecosystems to provide a range of fishing opportunities;

(4) management policies that more clearly identify fish stocks as a common-pool resource that can be depleted by recreational fishing and encourage angler investments in sustainability and

(5) improved data collection and monitoring.

The article is available online at:

ADF&G Sablefish Industry Meeting April 30th

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game will meet with southeast Alaska sablefish fishermen and other interested members of the public on Tuesday, April 30th from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. to review the status of Northern Southeast Inside (Chatham Strait) and Southern Southeast Inside (Clarence Strait) sablefish stocks. The meeting will also include presentations on the Gulf of Alaska sablefish stock by federal stock assessment scientists. There will also be presentations on sperm whale interactions and ecology by ALFA and the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Meeting locations include:

(1) Sitka - University of Alaska Southeast, Room 106, 1332 Seward Ave.;

(2) Petersburg-Petersburg Library Ruth Sandvik Conference Room, 14 S. Second St.

(3) Juneau/Douglas-ADF&G Regional Office, 802 3rd Street (Douglas)

Fishermen may also participate via web conferencing or teleconference. The news release providing call-in information is available at the link below (or feel free to contact the ALFA office for an electronic copy of the news release):

North Pacific Fishery Management Council Update: rockfish retention requirements to change; observer fee increase delayed

During its April 2019 meeting, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council took final action on a fishery plan amendment to require fixed gear vessels (longline and pot) to retain all rockfish incidentally caught in halibut, sablefish and other groundfish fisheries. The amendment will not be in place until 2020 at the earliest. Up to fifteen percent of retained rockfish relative to other species on board may enter commerce. The remainder must be retained and delivered but will be forfeit at the dock. Demeral shelf rockfish full retention rules and percentages allowed to enter commerce will remain in place. The Council’s purposes for the action include improving catch accounting for rockfish mortality and simplifying existing incidental catch limits.

The Council also considered an analysis to increase the observer fee, initially planned for final action in June. ALFA and other industry groups opposed the increase and the Council will most likely wait until its October meeting to further consider increases. ALFA and other stakeholders identified fundamental changes needed to decrease costs. NMFS staff indicated that observer costs could rise to $1,700 per day over the next few years, with no certainty that fee increases would meet Council monitoring objectives for improved coverage on high volume trawl fisheries. The analysis for the fee program failed to adequately address how pending implementation of electronic monitoring might reduce long-term needs for human observer. Additionally, ALFA and other fishery stakeholders expressed concern that NMFS’ planned increase in the fee looked only at increasing the fee in isolation from the larger fiscal problem with the program - the staggering increase in observer day costs. ALFA will continue to oppose the fee increase while working toward meaningful improvements in the program.

The next Council meeting will be in Sitka from June 3 - 9. ALFA and other fishery groups will hold a Council reception on June 5 - interested fishermen can contact the ALFA office to volunteer, donate fish, or get more information about the pending meeting.

ALFA's annual Spring Fishermen's Expo: April 2, 2019

ALFA's annual Spring Fishermen's Expo: April 2, 2019

The Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association (ALFA) is hosting a Spring Fishermen’s Expo on April 2nd to provide educational workshops and technical assistance to local fishermen. During the workshops, fishermen will have the opportunity to attend bathymetric mapping workshops at both beginner and advanced levels, receive technical support on their vessels, and attend a “hydraulics: tackling common problems that cause lost fishing time” session and an “electrical systems for fishing vessels” presentation, both presentations will provide time for questions and troubleshooting.