Expo is the gateway to Alaska fisheries

It’s a familiar sight for an Alaska fisherman: a throng of beasts streaming through a narrow passage to spread out onto the flats, where they compete for the best resources, hoping to secure their legacy. When the call over the radio announces the opening of Pacific Marine Expo, fishermen rush, shoulder to shoulder, down the stairs, then fan out on the show floor in their annual imitation of the spawners they haul from their nets.

Every year, fishermen come to Expo to get caught up and do a little catching of their own. We asked some of our most loyal visitors what they love about the show, and their answers all boiled down to three key elements — people, new products and fish politics.

“Expo is where you get all layers of your business done,” says Brett Veerhusen, a consultant and principal of Ocean Strategies. “You can find new, updated parts and machinery to upgrade your vessel operations, connect with other fishermen, share information, make deals and also learn about the most pressing issues related to the fishing industry.”

“It’s the only commercial fishing social on the West Coast. “It’s the Alaska Seafood industry’s one time of year to get together and socialize. Expo is like Commercial Fishing Christmas.” — Julianne Curry, Public Affairs Officer for Icicle Seafoods

The three-day event is a big draw for Alaska’s fishermen and fleet owners “because the Seattle seafood industry is the Alaska seafood industry,” says Bruce Schactler, a fisherman from Kodiak, Alaska, who also works for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, the National Seafood Marketing Coalition and is a National Fisherman Highliner.

“Seattle is the gateway to the Alaska industry,” Schactler adds. “Ninety-nine percent of your supply, 90 percent of your support, virtually 95 percent of your marketing and development, it all happens in the Lower 48, not in Alaska.”

Keith Singleton, Bruce Schactler and Scott Sandvig celebrate Alaskan Leader Seafood’s 2017 Symphony of Seafood win at Pacific Marine Expo.

That draw makes the show a must for industry folks looking to connect.

“It’s that family thing in fishing which transcends all geographic boundaries and time,” says Tomi Marsh, Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute board member and fisherman from Ketchikan, Alaska.

What makes the industry unique is exactly what makes Expo special.

“It’s that family thing in fishing which transcends all geographic boundaries and time.”
— Tomi Marsh, Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute board member

“It’s the only commercial fishing social on the West Coast,” says Julianne Curry, Public Affairs Officer for Icicle Seafoods and a fisherman from Petersburg, Alaska. “It’s the Alaska Seafood industry’s one time of year to get together and socialize. Expo is like Commercial Fishing Christmas.”

While you’re enjoying the holiday, you might as well tick some items off your list, right?

Fishermen hit the show floor with all kinds of goals in mind — outfitting boats, trying on some new boot styles, hunting for the elusive perfect foul-weather jacket, curious about what’s new in engines, comms or sonar — if it has to do with commercial fishing, you will find it on the floor at Expo and usually at a sweet price, too.

“In one word: DEALS! You can get deals, man,” says Keith Singleton, retail and foodservice director for Alaskan Leader Seafoods in Seattle. “It’s expensive this business we’re in.”

Pacific Marine Expo draws thousands of fishermen, fleet owners, processors and other stakeholders to a show floor packed with more than 500 exhibitors. Each one is vying for your attention with innovation at great prices.

Pacific Marine Expo draws thousands of fishermen, fleet owners, processors and other stakeholders to a show floor packed with more than 500 exhibitors. Doug Stewart photo.

“We’re starting to see more equipment specifically made for energy efficiency,” says Julie Decker, executive director for the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation and a fisherman from Wrangell, Alaska. “Walking the floor of the show, you can see some of those improvements, which is fun, and see how that connects with our energy efficiency project.”

As a complement to the bustle of activity and innovation on the show floor, Expo’s conference program is built to strengthen West Coast and Alaska fishing communities by focusing on industry education — from fish politics and safety to boat design and financing.

“This year there are going to be major topics discussed,” says Veerhusen. “Pebble Mine, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, new technology to run your boat more efficiently.”

The conferences and events also highlight thought leaders who are investing in new futures for the fishing industry.

“Expo is where you get all layers of your business done. You can find new, updated parts and machinery to upgrade your vessel operations, connect with other fishermen, share information, make deals and also learn about the most pressing issues related to the fishing industry.”
— Brett Veerhusen, consultant and principal of Ocean Strategies

“For me it’s time for us to tell people about what we’re doing,” adds Decker, “like the Symphony of Seafood winners, mariculture development and energy efficiency. I also like seeing the new innovation happening in the industry, seeing what other groups are doing. Even though I pay pretty close attention, there’s still stuff going on that I didn’t know about.”

The three-day event is packed with opportunities to make predictions on run returns.

“I like seeing what is resonating and what people in the seafood industry feel is important by seeing how well attended the conference sessions are,” says Curry.

For all the meetings and events Alaska’s fish-leaders attend in the fall, Expo is a must.

“Fishermen can’t afford not to come to Expo every year,” says Veerhusen.

“I haven’t missed one in 30 years,” Singleton says.

We’ll see you there, Nov. 18-20 at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field & Event Center. Register now and save $30!


Special thanks to our partners. Click through for information on product specials at Expo:

Duramax Marine

Fernstrum

Fusion Marine

MacGregor

Palfinger

Simrad Fisheries

Lunde Marine Electronics

Jensen Maritime Consultants

Integrated Marine Systems

Notus

Hotel Nexus

Wegley Boat Enterprises

Mackay Marine

About the author

Jessica Hathaway

Jessica Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman. She has been covering the fishing industry for 12 years, worked in maritime publishing for 17, and has served on the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute’s Communications Committee for two years.

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