The Alaska Young Fishermen’s Summit began 10 years ago in Petersburg and has grown to be one of fishing’s most popular networking and skill-building gatherings.

“We’ve been able to put on seven of these over the past 10 years.”    

Torie Baker is a Sea Grant agent at Cordova and a longtime Summit co-organizer. The three day event   in early December is a fast paced format focused on Alaska’s role in world markets and the latest science affecting fisheries. Also – the regulatory process featuring a mock Board of Fish.

“We actually assign roles and have folks get up there and practice public speaking and bring in all kinds of folks who play those roles in real life.”

The December Summit includes a visit to the North Pacific Council meetings.

On another front, Baker says the nuts and bolts of  fishing business is always a big draw –

“If you’re thinking about diversifying, upgrading, getting into another fishery, diversifying the operation you have. We have a lot of great folks who come and help us with all aspects of the business part of it.”

While the Summit aims to reverse the graying of the fleet and most attendees average five years in the business, it’s not just for young fishermen. Graybeards and greenhorns are welcomed and anyone   transitioning into fishing.

“Folks that are coming into the fishery – you can be 40 or 24. Age is secondary to what we are trying to accomplish and that is getting folks oriented to the whole suite of aspects of fisheries from management to markets, as well as a real solid hit on looking critically at their business model.”

Fishermen’s concerns have changed over time, Baker says. Based on Summit exit surveys, now changes to the climate and ocean are drawing the most interest.

“There is definitely a sensitivity and interest in the whole oceanography and physical processes going on out there.   We’re working with hunter/gatherers who connect the dots daily in their lives and livelihood.”

The Alaska Young Fishermen’s Summit is set for December 6-8 at the Dena’ina Center in Anchorage.