National Fisherman

About a month ago a friend of my neighbor's stopped by (we share a backyard) and somehow we started talking about the Appalachian Trail. Chris had hiked it a couple years ago, and said it was a life changing experience.

The more he talked, the more I believed it. For a while after that conversation, I was tempted to drop everything and do it too. It was early summer in Maine. It was the right time of year to start on Mt. Katahdin and make it down to the Georgia woods in five or six months before winter really set in.

For now, I'm still here. The dream of escaping into the wilderness is alive but dormant — put aside by the distractions of everyday life. It was sparked again today, however, after I watched the video, "I am a Commercial Fisherman." It's part of the Indie Alaska series produced by Alaska Public Media with PBS Digital Studios.

Originally from suburban Connecticut, Toby Sullivan setnets for salmon with his partner, Katie Oliver, from Uganik Bay on Kodiak. The clichés in the story of his journey west — riding boxcars with a copy of Jack Kerouac's On The Road — make it no less inspiring.

"I remember thinking this is the life. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else," says Sullivan.

He's been fishing from Uganick for 31 summers, and in the video you not only see the stunning scenery but also feel the tranquility of this wild place. Watching Sullivan and Oliver poking around the bay on their skiff in the middle of alll that, it's hard not to want to join them.


Dropping everything isn't always feasible, but it can be possible. I'm still thinking about hiking the AT; for now it's a maybe. Life changing experiences don't happen every day — unless you fish in Alaska.

Inside the Industry

NMFS recently released a draft action plan for fish discard and release mortality science, creating a list of actions that they hope can better inform fisheries.

We know that fishermen have to deal with bycatch by discarding or releasing unwanted catch overboard, but there is a data gap regarding how those fish survive.


A new study has identified a set of features common to all ocean ecosystems that provide a visual diagnosis of the health of the underwater environment coastal communities rely on.

Together, the features detail cumulative effects of threats -- such as overfishing, pollution, and invasive species,  allowing responders to act faster to increase ocean resiliency and sustainability.

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