Over fifty fishermen from around the state gathered in Anchorage this December for the tenth Alaska Young Fishermen’s Summit. Sponsored by Alaska Sea Grant, this three-day event brings early career fishermen together with leaders in the industry to teach business skills, the fisheries regulatory process and other topics important to the Alaska seafood industry. Alaska Sea Grant had the opportunity to follow up with a few of the attendees, Anchorage-based Andrew Hill and Zachary Burris, and Matthew Martushev from Homer.
“I decided to attend the summit and see if I could learn a thing or two about our awesome industry,” Martuschev said. “To my surprise, AYFS offered a wealth of knowledge coming from almost every aspect dealing with our commercial fishing industry. Information ranging [from] how Alaska’s seafood markets operate at home and on a global stage and the current health and wellbeing of our seafood economy, to the introduction of our fishery regulatory process and how to get involved in the regulatory process. We had speakers talk to us about risk management, accounting, banking, fishermen catcher processing, fishery management, insurance, networking, vessel safety, direct marketing, etc. We also had veterans of our industry with decades of experience talk to us about the ups and downs of commercial fishing and give their wisdom on how to be better prepared for the future and how to operate a successful fishing business.”
AYFS educates new commercial fishermen in the land-based aspects of running a sustainable commercial fishing operation. Participants also developed valuable networks with each other and with industry leaders, which will serve them in their future businesses.
“I wanted to attend this event because I’d like to enter into the Alaskan commercial fishing industry,” Burris said. “A person I respect in the industry recommended AYFS as a tremendous resource, not only for general knowledge on the industry, but as a relationship builder between people that you will likely be interacting with in the future if you choose this profession.”
This year, the keynote address was provided by Duncan Fields, a Kodiak commercial fisherman and fisheries consultant who has co-managed his family’s western Kodiak setnet operation since 1961. In addition to sharing his personal history and experience through the keynote address, Fields contributed a session on the fisheries regulatory process and led a field trip to the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council NPFMC meeting.
“I would certainly recommend other young fishermen to attend AYFS,” Hull said. “Understanding fisheries politics and management is imperative to long term success in the fishing industry and direct participation from fishermen is vital to the health of our fisheries. AYFS is a great introduction to these processes and can serve as a stepping stone for future involvement in governing our fisheries.”
AYFS reference materials including speaker presentation and notes are available on the 2023 Alaska Young Fishermen’s Summit website. We again thank the AYFS sponsors and industry leaders who volunteered for their support of the next generation of Alaska fishermen.
The next AYFS is planned for January 2026 in Juneau. Additional resources for Alaska commercial fishermen can be found at the Alaska Sea Grant FishBiz website.