KODIAK (AP) — People in the fishing industry are looking for ways to help young fishermen join the workforce.
During the ComFish conference in Kodiak this week, industry officials talked about ways to help young people overcome barriers to entry, such as permit loans, a sustainable fisheries trust and possibly community permit banks, The Kodiak Daily Mirror reported.
“Over the decades that we’ve all been here, some of us, we’ve seen and experienced a lot of changes, and it’s important to understand the trend and use our collective island experience to chart the course for our future and identify the challenges and work toward finding solutions,” said Theresa Peterson, who moderated the forum. “I think one of the greatest challenges we’re identifying is access to our fisheries for the next generation.”
University of Alaska Fairbanks professor Courtney Carothers says the age of the average permit holder has increased by 10 years since 1980 and more students aren’t fishing despite historical ties to it. Despite the decline, she said young people still know fishing has value.
“Most people that we interviewed whether they were older, younger, directly engaged in fishing or not see fisheries as integral to the health and well-being and the identity of their communities,” Carothers said. “It’s not something that people aren’t interested in figuring out how to best serve their communities.”
Alaska Sea Grand Director Paul Cullenberg says his organization has funded a study on ways to combat the aging fishing workforce.
“It’s not a federal fisheries management issue or a state fisheries management issue, this is an issue for our state as we look to the future of our resources and our economy,” he said.