ALFA to host Spring Fishermen's Expo & Sablefish Summit

ALFA will be hosting a Spring Fishermen's Expo in conjunction with the Alaska Department of Fish & Game's sablefish summit on March 2nd-3rd. Schedule of events:

Thursday, March 2nd, Sitka Sound Science Center

  • 9AM-10AM- simulated fire extinguishing training with AMSEA
  • 10AM-noon Beginner’s bathymetric workshop
  • Lunch (provided) - fire extinguishing simulation
  • 12:30-2PM Financial skills for fishermen
  • 2:15-4PM Advanced bathymetric workshop


Friday, March 3rd, UAS Sitka Room #229 (hosted by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game) 

  • 12-5PM: Sablefish summit: status of the stock, state and federal waters; updates on the Southeast Alaska Sperm Whale Avoidance Project(light refreshments provided) 
    • Introduction   –   Andrew Olson (ADF&G)
    • NSEI fishery and survey data review–  Ben Williams (ADF&G)
    • NSEI age structured assessment model– Ben Williams (ADF&G)
    • Outlook for 2017 NSEI sablefish quota/ NSEI decrement review – Andrew Olson (ADF&G)
    •  NSEI future fieldwork/ Budget update – Andrew Olson (ADF&G)   
    •  Gulf of Alaska federal sablefish fishery stock status – Dana Hanselman/Chris Lunsford (NOAA)
    •  Sperm whale tagging and depredation –Neve Baker (SEASWAP)

A huge THANK you to our sponsors workshop organizers: 

Murray Pacific, AMSEA, Delta Western, Inc., The Daily Sitka Sentinel, the City of Sitka, Harry Race Pharmacy, Nobeltec, Wells Fargo, and Spirit Bear Bookkeeping! 


February 17th 2017

ALFA to host Spring Fishermen’s Expo, free educational workshops for local fishermen


Following the success of a similar event held this fall, the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association (ALFA) is hosting a Spring Fishermen’s Expo on March 2nd-3rd to provide educational workshops and technical assistance to local fishermen.  The two-day series will wrap up with an overview of sablefish stock status and updates provided by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game on March 3rd.


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 “financing your fishing business” session targeted towards young and beginning fishermen. In addition to an overview of the NSEI state sablefish fishery, there will also be presentations on the Gulf of Alaska federal sablefish stock by federal stock assessment scientists and on whale depredation research by the Southeast Alaska Sperm Whale Avoidance Project (SEASWAP) scientists.

ALFA is an alliance of small-boat, commercial fishermen that support sustainable fisheries and thriving coastal communities by involving fishermen in research, advocacy and conservation initiatives. This series is part of a push by ALFA and other groups to provide resources and educational opportunities for fishermen, especially those who are just starting out.

“Thanks to the support of our sponsors and ALFA’s membership, we are able to offer these workshops free and open to the public.  In the future, we hope to build on this successful model with support from the Young Fishermen’s Development Fund, a fund that will be created by legislation soon to be introduced to this Congress with bipartisan support.”


The March 2nd events will be held at the Sitka Sound Science Center, and the sablefish summit will be held at the University of Alaska Southeast. Please visit for a full schedule of events.



Linda Behnken, Executive Director, ALFA: 907-738-3615

Alyssa Russell, Outreach Coordinator, ALFA: 508-566-6098

IPHC requests assistance marking sex of halibut

The IPHC requests your help as they design and implement a sampling program to determine the sex of halibut that are landed by the commercial longline fishery. Accurate sex-ratio information is necessary for stock assessment - most notably, for accurately estimating and monitoring spawning stock biomass. You can help by marking the sex of the fish that you catch, while dressing them, using the identification-cuts that are described in this handout. 

Photo: Tele Aadsen

ALFA Announces Membership Competition!

Photo by Nancy Behnken.

ALFA is launching a membership competition- members, help us expand our members and supporters! 

How can you recruit members? 

Try buying memberships for your crew (a deckhand membership is only $100!), encouraging your non-commercial-fishermen friends to try our new subsistence membership ($50), or telling other fishermen about the perks available to ALFA members- including access to our bathymetric mapping data, opportunities to participate in our fishery conservation network, opportunities to voice your opinion about fishery management, and representation in local, state, federal and national management forums

What's a new member? 

Someone who did not pay dues in 2016. 


  • The individual who refers the most new members in 2017 will be gifted a new performance laptop prepped for Timezero TZ. All charts, data sets and software installed. You provide your license. All 12v network board with USB hub, Network Hub, 12v laptop power supply. 
  • The individual who raises the most money for ALFA through referred new members will receive 15,000 Alaska Airline Miles.

How to enter? 

  • Talk to a friend and tell them to join ALFA! 
  • When they donate online, make sure they write your name in the "I was referred by" field.
  • If they donate in person or via mail, make sure that they let us know that you were the person that referred them.
  • To win, refer the most new members! 

All non-business ALFA members are encouraged to participate in the contest. We will draw winners on November 31st, 2017. 

UFA Publishes Updated Alaska Community Fishing Fact Sheets to Promote Seafood Industry Awareness

The statewide commercial fishing umbrella association United Fishermen of Alaska has released its updated set of fishing data sheets for major Alaska communities, boroughs and census areas. UFA is seeking to provide comprehensive information and statistics to help raise awareness of the importance of the commercial fishing and seafood processing industry to the state and Alaska communities.

Statistics are from calendar and fiscal year 2015, the most recent for which complete data is available. Sources include state and federal agencies including Alaska Departments of Revenue, Fish and Game, Labor, and Commerce; Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, Commercial Fishery Entry Commission, and NOAA Fisheries, with footnotes including links to the source data online.

“Alaska’s commercial fisheries bring millions in fishing and processing revenue and employ many thousands in the major fishing ports every year, Alaska’s seafood industry is also a significant contributor for tax revenues and indirect jobs or virtually all Alaska communities”, said UFA President Jerry McCune. “Due to the wide range of state and federal agencies involved in fisheries, it is challenging to understand the many different positive benefits that Alaska’s fisheries provide throughout the state and beyond.  UFA community fact sheets help consolidate this information and make it easy to understand.”

The community profiles include Aleutians East Borough, Aleutians West Census Area, Anchorage, Bethel Census Area, Bristol Bay Borough, Cordova, Dillingham Census Area, Haines Borough, Homer, Hoonah-Angoon Census Area, Juneau, Kenai Peninsula Borough, Kenai, Ketchikan, Kodiak, Kusilvak Census Area, Lake and Peninsula Borough, Matanuska – Susitna Borough, Nome Census Area, Petersburg, Prince of Wales – Outer Ketchikan Census Area, Seward, Sitka, Unalaska – Dutch Harbor, Valdez, Wrangell, Yakutat, the Yukon- Koyukuk Census Area, as well as Washington State, Oregon and California.

The fact sheets are posted on the UFA website at

UFA represents 33 Alaska commercial fishing associations from fisheries throughout Alaska and federal offshore waters, and is online at .

Interactive map: fishing communities throughout Alaska

The Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC) at NOAA has developed an interactive set of maps that will allow you to explore fisheries participation by communities around the state of Alaska. Using the maps, you can view visual representations of data in commercial, recreational and subsistence fisheries participation by community.

View a map focused on commercial fishing here, or visit this page to choose another map. 

fish data maps.PNG


Also available is a set of community snapshots, which take the pulse of Alaskan fishing communities using information about their fishing involvement and demographic characteristics. Yearly information is presented in each snapshot on commercial and recreational fishery harvest and processing sectors to help show how community involvement in each fishery has changed over time. Community participation in subsistence is also included. Demographic information on social and economic aspects of the community is reviewed using the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

View Sitka's community snapshot here.

Report: Locating Sperm Whales Using a Towed Array Hydrophone

A new report, Real Time Localization of Sperm Whales Using  Towed Array Hydrophone, has been released about fishermen's participation in conducting research with the Southeast Alaska Sperm Whale Avoidance Project (SEASWAP). Fishermen helped to test a system that can be used to find and record sperm whales while fishing or transiting. Read the full report here. 

Background and report abstract

Whale depredation on commercial sablefish and halibut longline gear increases harvesting costs and presents the risk of marine mammal entanglement issues.  In 2016, with funding from the Central Bering Sea Fishermen’s Assn, The Southeast Alaska Sperm Whale Avoidance Program (SEASWAP) tested a towed array hydrophone system that can be deployed and retrieved from fishing vessels while underway at normal transit speeds. The towed array equipment consisted of a pair of matched hydrophones within a streamlined housing that was towed on a strengthened cable 100 to 200 meters in length. The array was connected to a power supply, sound filtering equipment, and a computer running PAMGUARD software to enable sperm whale detection and localization.  The main objectives of this work were to: 1)  test the performance of this type of equipment on vessels typical of those used in Alaska’s longline fisheries; 2)  explore with fishermen how the equipment could be integrated onboard without impacting fishing activities; 3)  assess the efficacy of using towed array hydrophones to support whale avoidance strategies. 


The custom built, towed array hydrophone system was tested for a total of 20 days at sea during two cruises offshore of Southeast Alaska and one cruise in the deep, inside waters of Chatham Strait. Hand deployment and retrieval of a towed array from the deck of a long line vessel while underway proved to be relatively simple and straight forward. Waterproof connectors allowed the coiled cable to be disconnected when not in use and stored in locations that did not interfere with fishing operations. The major installation challenge encountered was to eliminate or minimize electrical noise unique to each vessel’s electrical system and computer.  Once electrical noise was eliminated, the vessel machinery proved quiet enough to allow detections of whales at ranges of several miles.

A total of 25 sperm whales were detected with the towed array system during a three day offshore survey which indicated a higher density of whales along the 200fm depth contour (a preferred fishing ground) than the 1000fm contour.  Detection ranges for whales varied from two to eight miles.  General localization of whale position ahead of, or behind the vessel, could be achieved by ear using headphones.  More accurate localization was possible using PAMGUARD software to calculate and display bearings on a computer screen, however the current PAMGUARD click detector and user interface was not sufficiently “fishermen friendly” to allow consistent use by non-trained individuals.  Optimum cable length to balance noise reduction and deck handling logistics was approximately 150 meters.  Detections were possible at normal transit speeds (6-8 knots), however, noise decreased and detection range improved with slower vessel speed. 


These initial sea trials demonstrate that the towed array equipment can be deployed and retrieved from longline vessels without the need to shift the vessel in and out of gear thus minimizing acoustic cues that attract sperm whales.  The ability to detect sperm whales at a distance of four to eight miles provides the vessel operator with a powerful new tool to identify “whale free” areas with a lower chance of depredation prior to setting the fishing gear. Placing towed array systems on vessels transiting to home or distant fishing grounds could provide information to map sperm whale distribution over a large geographic area, supporting a real-time reporting network to identify areas of high whale activity for avoidance.  Costs could be reduced by sharing towed array systems, and by placing equipment on strategically selected vessels engaged in cooperative reporting networks. 

Tracks and vessel locations when sperm whales were detected acoustically during SEASWAP’s towed array cruise on June 17th-19th offshore of Sitka, AK. The cruise approximately followed the 200fm contour and the 1000fm contour. The erratic lines in the south eastern section of the track indicates an interruption of the survey when sperm whales were encountered near a fishing vessel and a RHIB was deployed to collect tissue samples and photographic identifications.  There were 16 separate encounters with an estimated 20 individuals detected on the 200fm track and 5 encounters all with single animals on the ~1000fm track.

Tracks and vessel locations when sperm whales were detected acoustically during SEASWAP’s towed array cruise on June 17th-19th offshore of Sitka, AK. The cruise approximately followed the 200fm contour and the 1000fm contour. The erratic lines in the south eastern section of the track indicates an interruption of the survey when sperm whales were encountered near a fishing vessel and a RHIB was deployed to collect tissue samples and photographic identifications.  There were 16 separate encounters with an estimated 20 individuals detected on the 200fm track and 5 encounters all with single animals on the ~1000fm track.

2017 IPHC Catch Limits Released

The IPHC announced its 2017 catch limits this morning. 

Click here to see an official press release from the IPHC. 

Download a PDF of the catch limits here. 

Please note that numbers for 2C and 3A reflect combined charter and commercial catch limits. 

The season will open on March 11th and close on November 7th.

Taking into account charter catch and wastage and commercial wastage, the final commercial catch limits for Area 3A is 7.739

The final commercial catch limit for Area 2C is 4.212

You can follow live updates from the IPHC Annual Meeting here. 

ALFA Awarded Patagonia Funding for Documentary About Local Fishing Families

Photo: Annika Ord

January 25th 2017

ALFA Launches Documentary Project about Local Fishing Families’ Efforts to Protect Fisheries

Last week, the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association (ALFA) was awarded a grant from the popular clothing company Patagonia to film a documentary entitled “WE ARE ALL FISHERMEN”, which will feature local fishing families and explore the connection between small-boat fishing fleets and the vitality of healthy oceans and coastal communities.

The film tells the stories of local fishermen and examines the obstacles facing small boats who are trying to preserve their way of life for future generations. It will highlight the importance of small-scale fisheries in ensuring healthy coastal communities and, in turn, the role that thriving community-based fisheries play in ensuring a viable and sustainably caught food source for the rest of world.

ALFA is an alliance of small-boat, commercial fishermen that support sustainable fisheries and thriving coastal communities by involving fishermen in research, advocacy and conservation initiatives.  Executive Director and longtime commercial fisherman Linda Behnken has noticed an increased need to share stories of fishermen-led advocacy, especially as obstacles facing the next generation of fishermen, including high costs to entry, escalate.

Fishing families have a long-term commitment to sustainable fisheries ,"says Behnken. “They provide a vital voice for ocean health and strong coastal economies.  This film will celebrate that legacy, while capturing the many challenges young fishermen face as they enter today’s fisheries.”  

The film will be produced by award-winning filmmaker Emmett Williams. Williams is the founder of Mission Man Media, a documentary film production company dedicated to helping organizations around the world tell their story. Williams has created several films locally and spent a week filming Juneau-based longline and Dungeness crab fisherman Peter Ord, his daughter Annika, and his son Nathan last spring after ALFA officially launched the project.

“The challenges facing small boats and young people interested in fishing are complex and growing,” said Williams. “Our goal with this film is to simply tell their stories, and also the stories of the fishermen who came before them and are worried about the industry’s future.”

Filming has already begun on location out of Sitka and Juneau, and production is expected to finish this summer.  



Linda Behnken, ALFA: 907-747-3400

Alyssa Russell, ALFA: 508-566-6098

Emmett Williams, Filmmaker, Mission Man Media: 646-920-3491

ALFA Releases 2016 Annual Report

View the full report here. 

Dear Fishermen, Friends and Community Members,

We are pleased to share with you an overview of ALFA’s work this past year.  

ALFA promotes sustainable fisheries and thriving coastal communities through advocacy, research and education. We support science-based fisheries management and policy scaled to meet the needs of community-based fishermen. We are involved in multiple innovative and collaborative efforts to strengthen fisheries management generally and the success of small boats in particular.

We believe strongly that in coastal Alaska community-based fishermen’s concerns are the community’s concerns. With fishing the largest private sector employer in Alaska, fighting for the economic viability of small boat fishing is a crucial battle for the whole state.  Fisheries are Alaska’s sustainable future, and we are working to secure that future for coastal Alaskans.

In our last annual report (2015), we told told you that in 2016 we would make community out-reach beyond the docks a priority. As you read our annual report, we hope you will see how we have delivered on this promise. In the coming year we will share ALFAs work in exciting ways while tackling with renewed commitment, increased capacity and exciting new partnerships, the many issues and opportunities facing our fisheries and fishing communities.

I hope you enjoy learning about ALFA’s work through this Annual Report. Please call or email with questions, ideas, or suggestion about our work.  We would love to hear from you!


Warm wishes for the New Year,

Linda Behnken

Executive Director

First Aid, CPR & AED Workshop in Sitka

The Alaska Marine Safety Education Association will conduct a first aid, CPR, and AED workshop in Sitka on Thursday, January 19.  The workshop will be held from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM at the NSRAA, 1308 Sawmill Creek Road.


Instructor, Eric Van Cise, will cover CPR & automatic external defibrillators (AED); treatment of choking; medical emergencies; trauma; environmental hazards; patient assessment; medical communications; drowning & hypothermia; and common fishing injuries.  Attendees will receive a U.S. Coast Guard accepted, two-year certificate issued by the American Safety & Health Institute. The cost for the workshop is $95.00.  Register online at or call (907) 747-3287.