When young fishermen came together for their second official pub crawl, having a good time wasn't the only thing on their minds.
The event, which took place in Ballard, Wash., on Nov. 29, started off with a round of drinks from Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay, a group of fishermen concerned about protecting the watershed — an important salmon habitat — from the enormous proposed Pebble Mine.
(Did you go to the Young Fishermen's Pub Crawl? Look below for more photos from the event.)
"A plentiful, healthy sockeye salmon run is the single most important thing we can fight for. Not my boat. Not my job. But the fish. If the fish do not come back, then everything else is frivolous," writes Brett Veerhusen, who hosted the event and wrote about it in the Dock Talk column of National Fisherman's February issue ["Pint-sized power," p. 8].
"And it doesn't take an engineer to know that digging the largest open-pit mine in North America and plunking down up to 10 billion tons of mine waste forever in the heart of the watershed isn't good for the fish," he adds.
Veerhusen is one of those young fishermen. He takes his boat, the Finnegan, to Bristol Bay every summer. He is also earning his masters in marine affairs at the University of Washington and is co-founder of the blog, the Real Alaska.
I believe it's important for National Fisherman to include the voices of young fishermen like Veerhusen. They represent the future of the industry, but the high costs of getting started can be prohibitive to those starting out.
As I've reported before, the average age of permit holders in Alaska is rising. In 1975 it was 42.7. It was almost 50 in 2011 according to the Alaska Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission. The average age of new permit holders rose from 33.1 in 1975 to 40.7 in 2011.
There's strength in numbers and as Veerhusen writes, the pub crawl is one way to bring young fishermen together. More than 70 people joined the crawl, tripling the number of attendees from last year.
"The pub crawl signifies how the younger generation wants to connect with and learn from each other. And we want to grow within the industry and deepen our investment and involvement with our fisheries," he writes.
Read Veerhusen's full article in our February issue.