White House Budget Puts Fishing at Risk

The Fishing Communities Coalition (FCC), an association of community-based, small boat commercial fishermen, is a national advocacy organization of which ALFA is a member. 

Yesterday, the FCC urged Congress to reject the President’s proposed cuts to programs that are vital to the viability of the American commercial fishing industry and their communities.

In a letter delivered to lawmakers responsible for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) annual budget, the FCC emphasized that President Trump’s FY 2018 budget request would risk recent progress in halting overfishing and rebuilding overfished stocks. 

Below are excerpts from our letter:

“Members of the Fishing Communities Coalition (FCC) know firsthand that the proposed elimination of the Sea Grant program and the prospect of significant cuts to other vital NOAA fisheries programs could result in job losses throughout our industry and put entire fishing communities at risk.” 

On the Sea Grant program

“In Alaska, Sea Grant is helping our members with workshops that help young fishermen launch their careers; on Cape Cod, Sea Grant is working with our fishermen to develop a thriving aquaculture industry; and in Maine Sea Grant is assessing the impacts of invasive species on critical shellfish stocks. For the members of FCC, Sea Grant is an important federal partner that helps create economic development and jobs and cultivates future leader.”

On NOAA Fisheries Funding

“Under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), we have made remarkable progress in halting overfishing and rebuilding overfished stocks. Since 2000, 40 depleted marine fish stocks have been fully rebuilt, with many others seeing measurable progress. The outstanding results of this science-based fisheries management approach have benefitted the U.S. commercial fishing industry, the nation’s seafood supply chain and American consumers alike…

 “…The NOAA Fisheries program, which constitutes less than .03 percent of the federal budget, is critical to this economic success story. The vital scientific information it gathers – including data collection, fish stock surveys, analysis and assessments – provides the stable foundation for informed fishery management…

 “…On behalf of the more than 1,000 fishermen we represent and the fishing communities they support, we ask you to reject the Administration’s proposed elimination of the Sea Grant program and to provide full funding to NOAA Fisheries.”

Please let us know if you would like to hear more about FCC and our efforts on behalf of the nation’s small-boat fishermen.

Using Sablefish Pot gear- FAQ's from NOAA

NOAA recently released an informational document with FAQ's regarding the recently approved sablefish pot fishery in the Gulf of Alaska. See the full FAQ document by clicking here. 

Why is NMFS authorizing longline pot gear for the GOA sablefish IFQ fishery?

Beginning in 2009, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) and NMFS received reports from fishermen that there have been numerous whale interactions with the sablefish IFQ fleet in the GOA. Sperm whale depredation on hook-and-line fishing gear is most common in the Central GOA, West Yakutat District, and Southeast Outside District sablefish areas and killer whale depredation is most common in the Western GOA and Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands. While sperm whale depredation events are difficult to quantify on a per-vessel basis, fishery participants indicated that depredation continues to be a major cost to the sablefish IFQ fishery through reduced catch per unit effort and increased operating costs. The Council and NMFS determined that authorizing longline pot gear in the GOA sablefish IFQ fishery could reduce the adverse impacts of depredation for those vessel operators who choose to switch from hook-and-line gear. The Council recommended and NMFS implemented regulations to authorize, but not require, the use of longline pot gear in the GOA sablefish IFQ fishery beginning with the 2017 fishing season.



Halibut/Sablefish Fisheries set to open on time

NMFS published two information bulletinsfor the 2017 sablefish IFQ fisheries. The halibut fishery is also set to open on March 11th.

Here is a link to the information bulletin announcing the March 11, 2017, opening date for the sablefish fixed gear fisheries.

Here is a link to the information bulletin announcing the March 11, 2017, effective date for the final rule to authorize longline pot gear in the Gulf of Alaska sablefish IFQ fishery. The bulletin also provides a link to the pot gear frequently asked questions document posted on the NMFS web site.

Big thanks to the folks at NMFS and our Congressional delegation who helped move this through quickly!

Free F/V Drill Conductor Workshop for Commercial Fishermen

Free F/V Drill Conductor Workshop for Commercial Fishermen

The Alaska Marine Safety Education Association (AMSEA) will offer a 10-hour Fishing Vessel Drill Conductor workshop in Sitka on Monday, March 13, from 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM. The workshop will meet at the Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association (NSRAA), 1308 Sawmill Creek Road.

This workshop is an excellent opportunity for commercial fishermen and other mariners to gain hands-on training with marine safety equipment and learn best practices for surviving emergencies at sea. The workshop covers cold-water survival skills; EPIRBs, flares, and maydays; man-overboard recovery and firefighting; immersion suits and PFDs, helicopter rescue, life rafts, abandon ship procedures, and emergency drills.

AMSEA’s Drill Conductor workshops meet the U.S. Coast Guard training requirements for Drill Conductors on documented commercial fishing vessels operating beyond the federal boundary line. This workshop is offered to commercial fishermen at no cost, thanks to support from the U.S. Coast Guard, the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community & Economic Development, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health. The cost is $175 for all others. Interested mariners may register online at www.amsea.org or call (907) 747-3287.

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! 


Can't make it in person? This press release has information on attending via webinar on the second page: http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/static/applications/dcfnewsrelease/763450826.pdf


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," says ALFA Executive Director Linda Behnken. "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 alfafish.org 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 http://www.ufafish.org/fishing-facts/.

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

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.