National Fisherman

The Sorting Table 

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By Charlie Ess

Alaska fishermen got a dose of business savvy when the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Summit convened in Anchorage in December.

The conference has been held five times in the past seven years in hopes of recruiting permanent entrants into the state’s fisheries. Studies dating back to 1977 show the average age of Alaska fishermen has crept from around 40 to closer to 50.

In a vein similar to previous summits, this year’s conference included sessions focused on fisheries management, marketing, politics and finance. Alaska Sea Grant organizers Sunny Rice , Torie Baker and Paula Cullenberg had lined up three days’ worth of presentations and added a fourth day to include CPR classes and vessel safety training.

About 60 fishermen attended this year’s event and took notes when bankers explained the finer points of a balance sheet, depreciation and tax consequences.

With the recent push to launch a ballot initiative that would ban set nets in Upper Cook Inlet , other presentations advised fishermen how to write and present proposals protecting their interests to the Alaska Board of Fisheries .

“The last time we did the summit, we were able to put it on in Juneau ,” says Baker, an agent with Alaska Sea Grant’s Marine Advisory Program, in Cordova . “There was a lot of excitement, and we were able to get the participants to go up and meet their legislators.”

Baker adds that last time, eight fishermen testified to the state’s sub committee on fisheries and that the next summit will take place in Juneau. Until then, you can learn more about the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Summit in the video below.

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