Many people our age have written wills. Have you? It’s a good idea, of course, because wills preserve family harmony while planning for ways our youth can prosper.

Many in the fishing industry feel the same. As fishing leaders gathered in Juneau this week for the United Fishermen of Alaska board meeting, Symphony of Seafood and other events, we have to look past our industry’s near-term challenges and focus on our collective “will” to ensure Alaska’s local fishing legacy lives on.

Local permit ownership – keeping the family assets in the family, if you’re thinking in terms of a will – is essential to a thriving fleet and sustainable local economies.

We know our fleet is greying. The average age of fishing permit holders in Alaska is 50, a rise of 10 years since 1980. The number of Alaska residents under the age of 40 holding fishing permits has fallen to 17 percent in 2013. Aging trends are especially pronounced in rural fishing communities.

Commercial fishing is the lifeblood of dozens of Alaskan communities. Clearly, we need to think about passing our fishing industry on to the next generation of fishermen.

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