Pass it On
February 1, 2020
As we went to press, the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Summit was taking place at the Baranof Hotel in Juneau, Alaska. Produced by Alaska Sea Grant, the summit is a three-day networking and skill-building conference for new entrants in managing modern commercial fishing businesses. Some of the topics this year included operational resiliency, fishing business management, global markets and of course, safety.
We have reported on this event in the past, and it bears repeating that the fishing industry as a whole is at a crossroads. Permit and quota requirements have created barriers for the next generation of harvesters, and the graying of the fleet is a real threat to the healthy succession of commercial fishing as an economic and cultural foundation among the fishing communities along the West Coast.
In November of 2017 a group of scholars with close ties to the fishing industry produced a review of programs and policies to address access challenges in Alaska fisheries called “Turning the Tide: How can Alaska address the ‘graying of the fleet’ and loss of rural fisheries access?”
The report is available from the University of Alaska (http://www.fishermen.alaska.edu) and we urge those of you with a stake in the continued success of the fishery to download and read the 42-page report.
The West Coast commercial fisheries are as varied as those who perform them. From California’s Pacific yellowfin and Oregon’s Dungeness crab to troll-caught Washington king salmon and Alaska’s longline halibut, fishermen have been facing environmental and regulatory challenges for 75 years, and yet continue to produce healthy and sustainably harvested seafood.
In this issue you’ll find the story on the history of the Puretic Power Block that illustrates how fishing has changed over the course of the past 75 years. The story is written by Einar Ask, who, prior to working for many years at Seattle Marine, got his start in the fishing business in 1969, trolling and longlining on the Fairweather Grounds out of Pelican, Alaska with his father Ingvald Ask on the 48-foot Agile.
Einar has started a website (http://www.friendlyviking.com) based on recorded videos of his father, who fished the Agile, sometimes alone, into his 80s, and related stories from his fishing days.
Einar Ask wants to help people gather the stories of their older family and friends so their wisdom can be saved and shared with generations to come. “Sometimes the youth of today can’t relate to what life was like then, so it’s nice to hear it from the real fellows who lived it.”
The Young Fishermen’s Summit is a valuable and necessary bridge for those entering the fishing industry, but just as important is the accumulated knowledge of those fishermen whose experience has brought them wisdom they can pass along. If you have friends or family who have fishing stories to tell, consider capturing those stories for the next generation of fishermen.
Chris Philips can be reached at: 206-284-8285 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org