The Alaska Young Fishermen’s Summit since 2007 has aimed to build a sustained network of fishing operations across the state. The next summit is set for late January in Juneau.

“And so we start by talking to the new entrants into commercial fisheries to give them the opportunity to meet each other so they can connect in important ways in the future and then meet people who have been established in the industry for a long time and glean information from them.”

Sunny Rice is an Alaska Sea Grant marine adviser at Petersburg.

Along with a lot of networking, the three day summit focuses on specific themes – the first is business and finances.

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“A big emphasis on your fishing operation is a business and the basics of operating it like a business and the big financial decisions you have to make.”

That’s led by lenders, accountants and insurers.

Another focus is on how Alaska seafood fits into the global picture.

“What are the trends that we’re seeing and what is your product actually competing with in the marketplace.”

That includes views of the PCC Market group, the nation’s largest food coop based in Seattle.

The summit also digs into the fishery regulatory process.

“How do you participate in the Board of Fisheries, what do you need to know when a decision is being made at the Council level that impacts your business. We’ll do real specifics about how to give testimony as well as the broad range of ways they can get involved in those activities – how you can get on your local harbor board, be a part of your RSDA or your CDQ or your local fish and game advisory committee.”

A changing climate’s impacts on fisheries also is a summit focus. Rice says she’s been surprised at how many call it their top concern for the future.

“We’re going to spend more time this time around looking at the science of fisheries management and getting our best crystal ball from the best researchers we can find that are based right there in Juneau. What is our ocean going to look like in 20 years so that you can base fishery decisions on the best available knowledge.”

The Juneau event also let’s summit goers meet and talk with Alaska legislators at the start of the session.

Rice says 454 Alaska fishermen have taken part in every other year summits since 2007 and the number will top 500 after this next one.

I’m starting to feel like we are influencing a generation a little bit.

Summit discounts apply for signing up through January 7th and applications for travel scholarships are accepted by this Friday at noon.

AMSEA also is offering a free Fishing Vessel Drill Conductor class in Juneau in conjunction with the Young Fishermen’s Summit.