Each week on #youngfishermenfriday we share the stories of young people working in Alaska's fishing industry. Enjoy February's Young Fishermen features, learn about the joys and challenges of working on the water and harvesting wild seafood, and if you're a young fisherman yourself - please share your story through our simple online form! We would love to feature you in the coming months. See below also for upcoming opportunities and resources for young fishermen.
Meet Julia Evens on the F/V Dream Maid, who has grown up fishing with her family in Southeast, Alaska.
"Growing up in a small fishing town of Petersburg, Alaska I was drawn to fishing because my family works in the industry. My dad was the person who got me hooked on fishing, each summer I've fished with him on his 58 foot wood seine boat. In the summer of 2020 I got to fish with my boyfriend who ran a gillnetter in the upper Lynn Canal. Experiencing both salmon fisheries (gillnetting and seining), with people who admire fishing has had a great impact on me and they way I live my life."
"Lately I have been telling myself after each season, this would be my last. But as the summer creeps up, I am found on the back deck of a commercial fishing vessel. The views, adventures, people I meet, spending time with my family and ultimately the love for salmon keeps me coming back each summer. Getting up each morning with a purpose (and the start of the engine) jump starts my day, while also being able to bond with family and people on the water forges connections that are rarely broken."
"On my first full season of fishing one of the women that I admire told me 'push hard and show these guys what you're made of.' This has stuck with me through every tough day and every time I wanted to quit. I want to be the woman that a little girl looks up to and thinks: "that could be me too." I see more and more women every year running their own operations, this too inspires something inside of me to one day do the same. My advice to young fisherman is to never give up and to keep pushing forward."
"When I close my eyes and think about fishing I see... the sun rising over the snowcapped peaks of the Southeast Alaska mountains. Knowing that a day full of hard work in a beautiful place fills me with a sense of comfort and peace. Remembering how warm and comfortable my bunk will be pulls me through each passing day, week, and month."
"Commercial fishing has core values that will stay with me and show themselves in every aspect of my life. Patience, above all else, is something that is almost always tested. Working as a female in a predominantly male industry has both its perks and its draw backs. Being pushed to work harder everyday has taught me the depths that my patience can reach. Alaska's oceans and fish have taught me the value of nature in our day-to-day lives and the connection that is crucial in leading a life of peace and happiness. I'd like others to see and value the resources that the earth gives us as I have learned to value them. I think I can spread this awareness and share some of the beauty through my art so that maybe they can feel it too."
Adanna Kvernvik aboard the F/V Marsons has been fishing for 7 years in the Southeast Alaska Seine fishery.
"My dad has been fishing since he was 17 years old and he first brought my old sister on when she was about 14. I’m not sure that I would be fishing without these two supports in my life on the boats. They are what make the long days fun and have pushed me to better myself in the work that I do."
"My family keeps me coming back each season, as well as knowing that when I do this work I am providing for my own future. I will be graduating from the University of Alaska Fairbanks this spring and am proud to know I was able to make that happen for myself through this job."
"When I close my eyes and think about fishing I see... summertime. This is what I have grown up doing, this is what gave me an inside look to my dads career. Some days are nasty weather and bad fishing and all you want to do is go back to bed, but then you get a little nudge from your favorite deckhand. This is Alaskan living."
"Our best investment for off days was buying and inflatable Costco kayak and paddle board! All of us crew guys can head out on a nice day for a swim or just to finally get our toes in the sand. We also love kicking back with a good book in the hammock or mercilessly crushing one another in Gin Rummy."
"Thankfully we have not had any major injuries on board, but there have been a couple things that just either make you laugh because you're so frustrated, or just lay on the deck and take a minute to recover. While doing cost recovery for dogs (cue whole body shudder) I was trying my best to pick them from the net so they wouldn’t cause too much damage when we back hauled. I made the almighty mistake be looking up at the block when I heard something get stuck. Before I know it I was flat on my back with an 8 pound chum in my hand and a tooth mark right under my eye. During our back haul my sister got the pleasure of receiving a similar vampire teeth mark on her forearm (I assume as karma for her suppressed giggles from my injury)."
"The most important thing commercial fishing has taught me is to respect and take advantage of the opportunities we have been given. I can’t tell my parents how great full I am to have grown up the way I did. It’s hard work but I personally think that it has given me the work ethic that I need to succeed through future jobs. We have the chance to take up these jobs that many other people will only ever see through their TV, and I think that’s pretty special."
"I hope that people know that the seafood that we harvest is truly the red gold of the sea. These Alaskan waters have provided delicious and health packed salmon for our families for years and I hope that many people are able to enjoy this natural resource. These crews are family, each one risking something to be one the water for many days of the year, and I appreciate being welcomed into that community to help along the way."
"Some of our go to recipes on the boat are: Halibut chunks with a batter of Mayo and lemon juice then rolled in Parmesan and crushed potato chips, Halibut cheek tacos, Loaded breakfast burritos wrapped in tinfoil so they can be eaten with one hand, Coho side smothered in raspberry chipotle sauce."
Meet Kaya Ramirez on the F/V Rustler, who has spent 5 good seasons in the Southeast Alaska Drift fishery.
"I have spent a lot of my life in Haines, most of my young memories that stuck are being small with my family in the most incredible community. For as long as I can remember, in the summers I'd stay home with my great aunt Beth and would catch small glimpses of uncle Gregg when he came in from fishing after being gone for days at a time. I remember how tired, excited, and smelly he was. I never really understood what it was that he did, and always wanted to know. My mom fished with him for some time when she was younger, and Gregg wanted me to follow along in the "family business." When I was 16, my mom finally let me go- and I have never fallen in love faster. Being given a chance as a female deckhand feels rare, and he has given me the gift that keeps on giving – and I am so grateful."
"Some of the best advice I've been given is to FEED YOUR CAPTAIN! Grumpy? Food. Happy? Food. Tired? Maybe coffee AND food. Captains do a lot, and in my experience they often forget to eat! Especially during the peak. For other young fishermen, particularly if you are green: Be kind and patient with yourself, you are learning so much every day."
"Down time is generally rare on the F/V Rustler. We gillnet AND tender, so we have a lot on our plates. During our 2020 season, we spent 38 days away from home. Four showers, in 38 days. During the ever rare downtime, I like to read, draw, journal, and drink tea. SO much tea. Every second we have between sets is spent caffeinating ourselves and trying to fill our bellies!"
"I want the world to know that there is nothing better than a fresh fish fillet, and that it is very important to say thank you for the lives we have taken. Gratefulness is everything, and we are so lucky."
Resources for Young Fishermen
The Young Fishing Fellows Program works with community-based partner organizations in Alaska to design projects that provide young fishermen with valuable learning, leadership and career-building opportunities. The program matches the goals and needs of young fishermen today with host organizations engaged in work ranging from fishery management and policy to seafood business and marketing, fisheries and ocean sciences and fishing community sustainability.
Each fellowship is structured to provide opportunity, experience and support to young fishing leaders through mentorship, professional development and hands-on learning.
The application to be a host will be open through March 31, 2021. Applications for the fellowship open April 2021.
Marine Technology at PWSC is a new program in development with a wide range of opportunities to “help students learn skills that prepare them to work in a maritime field that they wish to pursue." Training provided by Prince William Sound College in Valdez covers a wide range of occupations in the maritime industry. "With the industry facing an aging workforce and a shortage of skilled workers, the maritime industry is rife with opportunity for those with the interest, skills, and willingness to learn."
Alaska Longline Association Crew Training Program helps young people learn the ropes of commercial fishing to ensure they are ready for their first professional fishing experience and helps skippers select, prepare and safely introduce greenhorn, beginner crew to commercial fishing. March 1 is the last day to apply to this year's program.
Virtual FisherPoets Gathering celebrates the commercial fishing industry through poetry, story and song this weekend - February 25, 26, 27th 2021. Tune in for your evening readings - here's the schedule.
We are proud to be part of this community! Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have an opportunity for young fishermen – we would be happy to spread the word. Make sure you sign up for our newsletter to see more stories from the sea.