Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation and partners to host seaweed farm training in Sitka, Ketchikan and Kodiak

The Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation (AFDF) and partners, including Alaska Sea Grant, are excited to announce a new training program for people interested in starting a seaweed farm. The program will be held in Kodiak, Ketchikan and Sitka in February 2020.

Applications are due by Dec. 20, 2019. The seaweed farm workshops take place Feb. 13-14, 2020, in Kodiak; Feb. 17-18 in Ketchikan; and Feb. 20-21 in Sitka.

The training is part of the Alaska Mariculture Initiative and is intended to provide tools and knowledge to anyone planning to farm seaweed commercially in Alaska. The program is targeted toward commercial fishermen, tribes, coastal residents and others. The program will consist of:

  1. an online webinar
  2. a two-day in-person workshop
  3. one-on-one mentoring for high-performing participants

Participants will be required to attend the webinar and one of the in-person workshops to be held in Kodiak, Ketchikan or Sitka. If the participant does not live in one of those communities, they will be responsible for paying all travel and lodging costsTopics covered will include identification of seaweed species, lifecycles of seaweed, the hatchery process, site selection, use of the Alaska Ocean Observing System Mariculture Map, farm gear and equipment, business plan development, farm loans, state lease application process, gear deployment, seeding and harvesting techniques, quality handling, and safety considerations.

Information and instruction will be provided by GreenWave, Alaska Sea Grant, Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Blue Evolution, OceansAlaska, AFDF, Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association, and others. Materials and food during the workshops will be provided.

While the training is free for those selected for the program, participants will be expected to attend and complete work products in order to continue in the program. Space will be limited to ten participants per workshop, and six participants overall will be selected for one-on-one mentoring.

Apply online or download and fill out a PDF application, and email it to Riley Smith at rsmith@afdf.org. For more information about the workshops, click this link for a story from KFSK-FM radio in Petersburg.

Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association hosts annual Alaska Day smoked seafood competition

Do you have a favorite smoked seafood recipe? Bring a small sample of your smoked seafood to the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association (ALFA) Open House and Smoked Seafood Contest.
Please drop off your smoked seafood contest entry at 9:30 a.m. on Alaska Day (Friday, Oct. 18) and be entered to win one of three prizes. All are welcome from 10 a.m. to noon at the new ALFA office at 304 Baranof Street (the old Island Institute building near Market Center). Start your Alaska Day Celebration with music, door prizes, black cod tips and other treats.
Contact Willow Moore with any questions at 747-3400.

Sitka Mermaid Festival and Sitka Seafood Festival combine to host big weekend events

The Sitka Mermaid Festival and the Sitka Seafood Festival are joining forces this year to host several events this weekend. The Sitka Mermaid Festival started last year as a way to celebrate seaweed and other sea veggies, while the Sitka Seafood Festival has been around for about a decade and celebrates the fish in our area.

The Sitka Seafood Festival launched some events as early as July, but for the next week or so the events will be co-hosted by both organizations.

Things kick off from 1-3 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, Aug. 24, with a youth Paint and Snack event featuring Tsimshian artist Mark Sixbey at the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association office at 304 Baranof Street (the former Island Institute office). The cost for this event is $10.

Meet from 11 a.m. to noon on Sunday, Aug. 25, at Halibut Point Recreation Area for a beach clean-up. Participants are encouraged to bring gloves. (The Sitka Kitch class about cooking with seaweed originally scheduled for Monday, Aug. 26, has been canceled.)

At 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 27, at Rio’s Wine Bar (above Ludvig’s Bistro), there is an adult Paint and Sip led by Sarah Dart. This event costs $40 and includes one class of wine.

From 6-8 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 28, at Evergreen Natural Foods is a Mermaids Love Seaweed! seaweed cosmetics and bath make-and-take event.

At 6 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 29, at the Sitka Sound Science Center is a Food For Thought: Where Art and Science Connect panel discussion on drawing creative inspiration from science.

The Umami Banquet: A Tasting Event Sourced From The Sea takes place at 6 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 30, at Harrigan Centennial Hall. This event features guest chef Cassandra Victoria Kelly from California. Tickets are $65 for the full tasting menu and $40 for standing-room only, and are available at Old Harbor Books. This event features performances by the Sitka Cirque aerial silks team, live music and a silent auction.

The big day is Saturday, Aug. 31, with the Marketplace open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Harrigan Centennial Hall. There is a Mermaid Promenade costume parade down the Sitka Sea Walk from the Sitka Sound Science Center to Crescent Harbor Shelter that starts at 11:30 a.m. (meet at 11 a.m. at the science center). There are food booths, kids’ games and other activities from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Crescent Harbor Shelter, followed by fish tote races from 4-6 p.m. at Crescent Harbor Shelter. The day closes with the free Rock the Dock concert/dance event from 5-11 p.m. at Crescent Harbor Shelter (this event, which includes a beer garden for adults, is co-hosted by the Sitka Conservation Society).

Don’t forget the Sitka Local Foods Network also has a Sitka Farmers Market scheduled for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 31, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian Street).

The Marketplace continues for a second day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 1, at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

The Sitka Seafood Festival also includes Wet Feet: Sitka Tells Tales from 6-7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 17, at Beak Restaurant (co-hosted with ArtChange, Inc.), with a suggested donation of $5. The Sitka Seafood Festival schedule concludes with a marine safety inspector course taught by the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association (AMSEA) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday through Friday, Sept. 23-27, and 8-10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28, at the Public Safety Training Academy (this event is free for qualified commercial fishermen and $995 for all others, register at the link above).

For more information, contact Amelia Mosher at sitkamermaidfestival@gmail.com or Tara Racine at director.asft@gmail.com.

 

Sitka Seafood Festival events kick off this weekend

The Sitka Seafood Festival kicks off Saturday afternoon with a salmon-themed paint and snack event from 1-3 p.m. on Saturday, July 20, at the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association (ALFA) Office, 304 Baranof Street.

There are a series of other events, listed below, and more events will be added as they become available.

  • Saturday, July 20, Salmon-Themed Paint and Snack, 1-3pm, Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association, ALFA, Office (304 Baranof St.), $20 for one ticket and $10 for each additional
  • Sunday, July 21, Boating Without the Boys (women’s only watercraft safety training provided by Alaska Marine Safety Education Association, AMSEA), 8am-4pm, ALFA Office (304 Baranof St.), $125 per person
  • Monday, July 29, Seafood Trivia Night, 7-9pm, Bayview Pub (407 Lincoln St.), no admission charge but donations encouraged
  • Sunday, August 11, Change Your Latitude Open-Water Swim Race (Baranof Barracuda Swim Club), 7am-12pm, Sitka Sound
  • Saturday, August 24, Salmon-Themed Paint and Snack, 1-3pm, ALFA Office (304 Baranof St.), $20 for one ticket and $10 for each additional
  • Monday-Saturday, September 23-28, Marine Safety Inspector Training Course, 8am-5pm, Public Safety Training Academy (877 Sawmill Creek Road), $195

So far, the event organizers haven’t announced a vendor marketplace event or fishing-related races, which have been big draws in the past. Those events could happen in late-August.

The Sitka Seafood Festival is co-sponsored by the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust and the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association, who last hosted the event in 2017. For more information, call 747-3400 or contact sitkaseafoodfestival@gmail.com or asft.outreach@gmail.com.

Alaskans Own community-supported seafood program opens 2019 membership sales

Alaskans Own (AO), a community-supported fishery (CSF) program run by the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association (ALFA), has opened and is receiving subscription orders for the 2019 season.

Alaskans Own was the first community-supported fishery (CSF) program in Alaska. Now in its 10th year, AO was created to connect consumers to small-boat fishermen, ensure that more fish caught in Alaska stays in Alaska, and create a sustainable source of revenue to support ALFA’s Fishery Conservation Network, which engages fishermen and scientists in conservation and research initiatives.

Similar to community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs, CSF programs address an important environmental and socio-economic need by strengthening consumer-producer relationships. By forward-funding a season of seafood, subscribers invest in sustainable harvest and the rural fishermen who catch their fish, as well as supporting the web of seafood-related jobs that provide the economic backbone for our coastal communities.

There are four-month and six-month subscriptions available starting in May. The six-month subscriptions allow people to keep receiving fish through October instead of August, when the traditional four-month subscriptions end. Subscriptions include a mix of premium locally hook-and-line caught black cod (sablefish), halibut, king salmon, coho salmon, lingcod and rockfish, depending on the commercial fishing season and prices.

Alaskans Own has just released its 2019 prices — choose either monthly installments or pay all at once and receive 5 percent off.

CSF Prices:

  • Four-Month Feed-A-Few share (5 lbs/month, May-August, 20 lbs total), $375 paid in full or $99 monthly payment ($396 total for four months)
  • Six-Month Feed-A-Few share (5 lbs/month, May-October, 30 lbs total), $565 paid in full or $99 monthly payment ($594 total for six months)

Besides the monthly shares there are a variety of other packages, including different sampler boxes of wild-caught, flash-frozen, high-quality seafood available on the AO website.

In a Feb. 2019 customer survey taken by 40 randomly-selected Alaskans Own CSF subscribers, more than 73 percent gave their overall experience the highest possible rating, 5 out of 5 stars, which was designated as “very satisfied.” The survey asked CSF members what they liked best about Alaskans Own CSF, and the most common answers were excellent, great quality seafood, the variety of species, and supporting local, Alaskan fishermen.

Alaskans Own not only connects consumers with the local fishermen who caught their seafood, which is so important for transparency of the seafood supply chain, it also gives customers the opportunity to give to conservation projects because all AO profits go to the Fishery Conservation Network.

Customers who don’t live in one of Alaskans Own’s CSF cities (Sitka, Juneau, Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Seattle) can also partake by setting up a custom order with the Alaskans Own staff. The AO staff can be reached at alaskansownfish@gmail.com or (907) 747-3400.

Shares and seafood boxes can be purchased on the AO online store at alaskansown.com, and the deadline to order for this year is May 15.

Alaskans Own is a non-profit, community supported fisheries program.  Joining Alaskans Own is about a lot more than buying great fish. It’s an investment in the health of both fish and fisherman, in a cleaner environment, more vibrant local economies and a better future for Alaska. Learn more about our Fishery Conservation Network at alfafish.org

• Final 2019 Alaskans Own seafood brochure (opens as PDF document)

Local Fish Fund to help Alaska’s next generation of commercial fishers find financing

The Local Fish Fund is a program of Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust, a non-profit corporation based in Sitka, Alaska. The mission of the Trust is to protect and support local fishing businesses, promote sustainable fishing practices, and revitalize fishing communities in Alaska. The Local Fish Fund program aims to incentivize ocean conservation practices and strengthen fishery leadership in Alaska communities by structuring loan products that will support Alaska residents in purchasing quota and retaining fishery access opportunities. (Photo by Laurie Mistretta)

The Local Fish Fund is an innovative fisheries loan program that will provide a new financing tool for the next generation of commercial fishers in Alaska’s fishing communities.

The Local Fish Fund is a collaborative effort spearheaded by the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust, a Sitka-based nonprofit organization that protects and promotes fishing and fisheries. The loan fund aims to support Alaska’s fishing communities by reducing specific barriers to entry into commercial fisheries and engaging next-generation fishermen in marine stewardship and policy leadership.  Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust was supported in setting up and capitalizing the fund by The Nature Conservancy, Craft3, Rasmuson Foundation, and Catch Together.

“The cost and risk involved in accessing Alaska’s quota share fisheries are comparable to purchasing a hotel as a first step in home ownership,” says Linda Behnken, commercial fisherman and founding member of the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust. “As a result, the number of young rural residents entering the fisheries has dropped over the past 15 years. Local Fish Fund aims to change that trend by lowering barriers to entry while engaging the next generation of community-based fishermen in resource conservation and management.”

The Local Fish Fund loan structure has been developed in close consultation with commercial fishermen in Alaska to increase local ownership of halibut and sablefish quota. Traditional commercial fish loans require fixed payments, like a home loan. This presents substantial risk for entry-level commercial fishing businesses because the allowable catch and fish price can vary dramatically from year to year. In contrast, the Local Fish Fund loans use a “revenue participation” approach in which loan repayment is based on fish landings rather than a fixed loan repayment structure. The Local Fish Fund offers loans with competitive interest rates and reduced down payment options, and allows fishermen to build sufficient equity to eventually access conventional loans.

In addition to providing easier access to quota purchase, this loan program has been developed to increase marine stewardship and leadership capacity in the field of sustainable fisheries management. Loan recipients will be incentivized to participate in a flexible set of conservation programs that contribute to sustainable fisheries management by collecting better scientific data; engaging in policy and management decision-making; and working on conservation education and outreach.

Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association executive director and Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust founding member Linda Behnken’s longliner, the Woodstock (Photo Copyright Josh Roper)

“Alaska has some of the most sustainably managed fisheries in the world,” says Christine Woll, the Southeast Alaska program director for The Nature Conservancy. “This is due in large part to Alaskans having an active voice in how our fisheries are managed. Encouraging local participation in our commercial fisheries helps foster a long-standing Alaska tradition of community-based stewardship of our natural resources.”

The launch of this loan fund was made possible by a unique collaboration that brought together varied expertise across fisheries, conservation, and finance. In addition to the  Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust, the launch of the fund was supported by the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association, which has a long history of leadership in Alaskan fisheries management; The Nature Conservancy, which has worked with fishing communities to develop economic incentives for fisheries conservation in communities across the globe; and Craft3, a community development financial institution, which provides loans to benefit Pacific Northwest communities, and is originating and servicing loans on Local Fish Fund’s behalf. The Rasmuson Foundation and Catch Together have capitalized the loan fund, which will seek to make a series of loans over the next two to three years.

“We know how important quota ownership is to fishing communities in Southeast Alaska, and we are pleased to be a financing partner to the Local Fish Fund and its program to keep quota in the hands of local fishermen” says Kelly Wachowicz, Managing Partner of Catch Together.

“Joining Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust and The Nature Conservancy to launch the Local Fish Fund makes perfect sense to Craft3. This effort expands on our decades-long commitment to sustainable fisheries, conservation, and community development,” stated Craft3 President & CEO Adam Zimmerman. “The Local Fish Fund’s flexible credit and conservation incentives will preserve local fishery ownership, build equity in communities and families, and sustain fisheries health. This can be a model for how private, nonprofit, and philanthropic partners can work together to invest in current and next generation fishermen committed to sustainability.”

“The Local Fish Fund relies on creative thinking – and strong local and national partners – to open up economic opportunities in one of Alaska’s most valued industries, fishing,” said Chris Perez, Rasmuson Foundation senior program officer.

Behnken also thanked the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and The Oak Foundation, which provided long-time support for the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust and helped out with the development of the Local Fish Fund.

• Local Fish Fund two page summary (opens as PDF)

Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association seeks applicants for crewmember apprenticeship program

Sophie Nethercut is one of about 25 greenhorns who has served a short stint as a crew member on Eric Jordan’s troller, the I Gotta, in recent years.

Eric Jordan, back center, poses with crew members (l-r) Alyssa Russell, Sarah Jordan (his wife) and Anya Grenier on his troller the I Gotta.

The Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association (ALFA), a Sitka-based fishing group, is seeking applicants for its Crewmember Apprenticeship Program. Through a safe and well-guided entry level experience, the program aims to provide young people an opportunity to gain experience in, as well as an understanding of, commercial fishing and its importance to supporting coastal communities.

In late 2017, ALFA was awarded a $70,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) to expand this program in Sitka and to support efforts to launch similar programs in other parts of the state. The grant, leveraged with support from the City of Sitka and ALFA members, was awarded as part of NFWF’s Fisheries Innovation Fund. According to NFWF, “the work funded by these grants will result in improved management that strengthens the welfare of fishermen and local communities, promoting healthy fish stocks and healthy fisheries.”

Cathryn Klusmeier, left, and Jacob Metzger are among the greenhorns who crewed on Eric Jordan’s troller, the I Gotta.

Last year, ALFA’s apprentice program received over 100 local, national, and international applicants, and ALFA placed 13 apprentices on commercial fishing boats over the 2018 fishing season. In 2019, ALFA plans to increase the number of participating apprentices, skippers, and fishing vessels and to enhance local employment opportunity. As Executive Director of ALFA, Linda Behnken explains, “With support from NFWF, we plan to expand the program to include more boats, crew, and communities. Our goal is to provide young people with a safe introduction to Alaska’s fisheries and to share the curriculum we have developed through our program with fishing groups in other parts of the State and country”.

Lea LeGardeur, a crewmember apprentice from last year, says of her experience in the program, “Beyond giving me an entry point into an industry that I otherwise would have had a harder getting into … the skippers in the program all wanted to teach, and sign up to take greenhorns so they could pass on what they know.”

ALFA is seeking applicants for the 2019 fishing season. Crewmember application period is currently open and will close Feb. 28. Applicants must be over 18 years of age. Application information can be found at http://www.alfafish.org/apprenticeship/.