We talk a lot about fishing communities because they’re the lifeblood of this industry. Without your community, you have no home port, no place to tie up after a hard run, rest, replenish your supplies and make much-needed repairs.

Thousands of fishermen return to the industry’s natal stream in Seattle every fall, creating the nation’s single-largest fishing community at Pacific Marine Expo. You return after months away to check in with the family, restock supplies, window shop for the things you should be saving up for, grab some hot gossip, tip back a few, and maybe make a little trouble.

And though it has Pacific in front of it, there’s no doubt that this is truly a national show. One of my favorite parts of Expo is bringing fishermen from other parts of the country to remind them that this industry is still thriving. What we have in Seattle, we can have anywhere if we continue to support our fishing communities and working waterfronts.

In the meantime, Seattle is here for you. And though it all happens in a mere three days in November, we plan for it all year long. Right now, we’re lining up conference session ideas, reaching out to new gear makers and holding taste tests for the Beer Garden. Hey, it’s not all hard work.

I sat down with Denielle Christensen, the show director for Pacific Marine Expo, to talk about Seattle, what’s to come this year and what trends we’re tracking to bring you everything you’re looking for the next time you come back home.

Denielle Christensen, Show Director, Pacific Marine Expo

Q

Let’s get this out of the way first: What are the dates for this year’s show? (And when will we know?)

A

Unfortunately, it’s just too soon to tell. Because Pacific Marine Expo is held at CenturyLink Event Center, which is the adjoining building to the Seahawks’ Stadium, we won’t receive dates for the show until after the NFL schedule is released in April. We hope to secure the traditional dates for the show which are typically the week before Thanksgiving. We’ll be sure to let National Fisherman in on the news first!

Q

What industry trends are you following as you plan this year’s show?

A

There are several trends we are tracking and considering for programs at Pacific Marine Expo this year. As always, we’re following the continued coverage of Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay and will be ready to provide a platform for discussion if the time is right.

New technologies and new looks at safety and survival are top of mind this year. A broad look at fishing from a national perspective as well as environmental issues that impact the oceans are topics we are tracking closely.

A lot can change in the 12 months that pass between events. We keep an eye on several topics and always seek to deliver the most timely information and updates every November.

Q

I know it’s early in the planning stages, but how is the show looking for this year? What are some highlights so far?

A

Even without exact dates, the planning for 2020 is well underway. More than 400 of last year’s exhibitors have already signed up to be at the show this fall, and we expect up to 90 new companies will exhibit this year as well.

In addition to the exhibit floor, plans are well underway to expand programming for seasoned fishermen, as well as those looking to enter or expand in the commercial fishing industry.

Topics will cover safety, industry updates, regulations and more. In fact, we’re always open to hearing directly from our customers, If someone has a topic, they should contact our conference team at [email protected].

Q

What have been some of the show’s biggest successes you’re hoping to build on for this year?

A

Well it’s no secret that this is viewed as an aging industry, and last year we saw a significant increase in visitors that represented the 18-35 age range, and many who participated in our Young Fisherman program.

Together with National Fisherman, industry advocates and leading associations, we hope to make PME the best place to help teach the younger generation and get them connected to the people that can help them grow.

Q

How many new exhibitors were at the show last year, and what can we expect for this year?

A

There were 89 new companies that exhibited at the show last year and we expect similar numbers again this fall. We know visitors to the show love the see the companies that have been with the event from the beginning but new companies showcasing new products and technologies are equally Important to helping keep the show relevant.

Q

Are there any new developments we can look forward to?

A

We are always looking to expand programming based on what our customers tell us they’d like to see and hear at the show, and we’re working hard on that. But until we have our final dates it’s difficult to announce exactly which plans will be implemented for the year. But stay tuned, we’ll be sure that National Fisherman is the first to know.

Q

What do you hope exhibitors and visitors get out of the show?

A

Pacific Marine Expo is built as a business-to-business forum for people in the industry to get connected and resourced for the upcoming year. But that’s just the business side of things. We hope everyone at the show makes connections, builds relationships and walks away feeling like a trip to PME was valuable to them personally as well as professionally.

You can sign up for updates directly from Pacific Marine Expo at the show site or stay tuned here for the news as it breaks.

Jessica Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman. She has been covering the fishing industry for 14 years, serves on the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute's Communications Committee and is a National Fisheries Conservation Center board member.

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