Alaska’s Fishing Fleet is Graying – A New Report Suggests Answers

With the 10,197 foot volcano Mount Redoubt towering above in the distance, the 42-foot drift gillnetter “Sosueme” nears the mouth of the Kasilof River during a sunny day in June 2005. (BILL ROTH / ADN archive 2005)

This summer, working as a deckhand on her father’s fishing boat in Cook Inlet, Georgeanna Heaverley realized she was right where she wanted to be.

Heaverley, 29, a Soldotna resident and recent University of Alaska Fairbanks graduate in physics, was coming into her own as a deckhand on the fishing vessel Benjana, named for her brother, Benjamin, and herself.

Being in the middle of Cook Inlet is an incredible experience and something I do not take for granted. It’s like nothing else,” she said last week. Sometimes, the work seems almost primal.

“The other piece of it is you are feeding the world.”

Young fishermen and women like her are an increasingly rare commodity, despite the general health of Alaska’s commercial fisheries, according to a series of fishing reports.

For four years, a research team has been examining the graying of Alaska’s fleet and what to do about it.

The most recent report, out last week, is called “Turning the Tide.” It recommends five steps to reverse what it calls troubling trends of an aging fleet, and a loss of access for rural residents to fish as a career. That goal also underpinned a conference that brought Heaverley to Anchorage, the Young Fishermen’s Summit.

Read the full article here.

Source: Alaska’s fishing fleet is graying, and that’s not a good thing. A new report suggests answers. – Anchorage Daily News

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