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February 2016 Fishlines Newsletter


Coming up

Young Fishermen Learn the Ropes in Juneau

crowd of conference participants standing on the steps of a buliding

“My fishing business just took a giant leap forward in terms of direction and focus,” said one of the 70 participants at the 6th Alaska Young Fishermen’s Summit held in Juneau last month. The fishermen attended because they wanted to learn best practices for building a strong fishing business.

Sunny Rice and Torie Baker, Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory faculty, organized this year’s summit. The meetings are tailored to younger fishermen who have been running their fishing business for five years or less. “The bulk of our audience is people who have just bought in. So they’re committed to commercial fishing as a career,” Rice said in an interview with KCAW Sitka. “It’s a great chance to network with people who are already making decisions in the industry,” she said. Participants represented 30 Alaska communities and diverse fisheries.

“Hearing from the 46 presenters and having the opportunity to speak with our legislators has been extremely helpful. There is no way to replace an experience like this,” said an attendee. Summit participants listened to leaders in finance, marketing and fisheries policy, as well as summit alumni. Governor Bill Walker and ADF&G commissioner Sam Cotten addressed the group, fielding questions ranging from improving processor capacity in Bristol Bay to fisheries taxes. “I am so happy to see UAF offering this program for young people involved in our fisheries,” said Governor Walker during his lunch address.

In written feedback on the sixth summit, several participants said they were surprised to learn about Alaska’s major role in global fisheries. Others mentioned they will change the way they manage their fishing business based on what they learned about the importance of diversifying, insurance policies, and the Capital Construction Fund administered by NOAA.

Hosting the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Summit in Juneau enabled access to the Alaska State Legislature. Participants met with their individual legislators in small groups and testified before the House Special Committee on Fisheries. “This is always a welcome event for me,” said Representative Bryce Edgmon from Dillingham, “since my office is able to help out with the summit’s agenda, and we meet face to face with many intrepid young fishers.… The Alaska Young Fishermen’s Summit is all about building future leaders in coastal Alaska.”

CoBank is a key financial sponsor of the summit, along with many others from the fishing industry and agencies. This year eleven organizations and businesses also paid for young fishermen to attend. The next Alaska Young Fishermen’s Summit is scheduled for December 2017 in Anchorage.

Farrugia Finishes Knauss Fellowship

Thomas Farrugia with a shark in the background

Thomas Farrugia completed his yearlong Sea Grant Knauss fellowship working at the US House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources, in late January.

“The Knauss fellowship was a fantastically beneficial experience,” said Farrugia. “I gained experience in subjects ranging from wildlife trafficking to offshore mineral extraction permitting. Along the way, I worked with both peers and mentors in several federal agencies and nongovernmental organizations. All this will greatly help advance my career and I highly recommend the fellowship to anybody who is interested in national-level marine policy work."

During his time in Washington, DC, Farrugia staffed 18 committee hearings, provided science-based recommendations to the House committee, and did some groundwork to reauthorize the NOAA Sea Grant Program. He also organized congressional briefings on the the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and was a member of the US delegation at the 24th Regular Meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna in Malta.

For the near-term Farrugia is returning to Alaska to complete his PhD work on the Alaska skate fishery with associate professor Andrew Seitz, University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences.

Another Alaskan has just moved to the US capital to serve as a Sea Grant Knauss Fellow. Erin Shew, graduate student in Arctic and Northern Studies at UAF, began her job earlier this month as a climate preparedness fellow with the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

The Sea Grant Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship provides graduate students with a year of paid experience in Washington, DC, working on ocean issues with US congressional offices or in a federal agency.

Students Earn Awards at Alaska Marine Science Symposium

Marilyn Sigman and Jane Sullivan holding award certificateMarilyn Sigman (L) and Jane Sullivan. Photo by Brendan Smith.

Alaska Sea Grant sponsored two of the eleven student awards presented at the Alaska Marine Science Symposium in Anchorage in January. Jordan Beamer, Oregon State University Water Resources Program, was awarded first place in the PhD category for her talk, “Climate change hydrology and freshwater discharge.” Jane Sullivan, University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, won first place at the MS level for her presentation, “Can fishing explain declines in size-at-age of Pacific halibut?”

Two students won awards for presentations on Alaska Sea Grant–funded projects. UAF SFOS student Sarah Traiger tied for best poster by a PhD student for “Sea otters versus sea stars as major clam predators: Evidence from foraging pits and shell litter,” from the North Pacific Research Board. Karisa Maurer, US Coast Guard Academy undergraduate, earned an award for her poster “Giant kelp and coastal resilience: A new long-term monitoring project in Sitka Sound, Alaska” from the National Association of Marine Educators. Marilyn Sigman, Alaska Sea Grant marine education specialist, coordinated judging of the student presentations—74 students entered the competition.

Identification Guide to Cods and Their Relatives

cover of identifcation guide

Guide to the Gadiform Fishes of the Eastern North Pacific, by G.R. Hoff, D.E. Stevenson, and J.W. Orr, is a free electronic publication recently released by NOAA. The guide describes the 28 species of gadiform fishes in the eastern North Pacific and arctic seas adjacent to North America from the Arctic to the Mexico border. Many major food fish are in this group. The publication is designed for researchers, students, and seafood industry professionals to help identify these abundant, common, and commercially important species. Keys to families and species are included, as well as descriptions, photographs, and distribution maps.

Aquaculture Research Grants

buoys in bay

NOAA Sea Grant will have up to $3,000,000 available for a national competition to fund new FY 2016 aquaculture research projects. This is part of an overall plan to support the development of environmentally and economically sustainable coastal aquaculture nationwide. Preproposals are due March 10, 2016.


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