Alaska has 90 ports along its rivers and marine waterways from tiny to huge, according to the World Port Source.

Thousands of fishermen and other mariners rely on ports and harbors to help maintain their livelihoods –  but how do they feel about their care and maintenance? A new project aims to find out –

“So it’s kind of gauging how clean people think the harbors are, and why they are that way and how we can make them cleaner.”

Tav Ammu is an Alaska Sea Grant Fellow who also skippers a salmon fishing boat at Bristol Bay.

He has created an iPad project to survey fishermen’s perceptions on pollution and waste during his down time at the docks this summer in Dillingham. He will then repeat the survey at Ninilchik on the Kenai Peninsula in the fall.

“So, how polluted it is and why and how we can address it. Part of it is to go to the commercial fishermen and boaters that use the harbor and ask, ‘do you think it’s dirty and why?’”

Ammu told KDLG he became interested in water quality and conservation while serving in the Navy.

 “I did not feel there was enough of attention towards cleanliness and sustainability and conservation. So I got a master’s in marine systems and policies, and the hope is to bridge the gap between me who fishes and science or policy makers.”

Ammu’s goal is to get baseline data on how people in the fishing community perceive harbor cleanliness and water quality.

He will turn the survey results into a report and share it at the Harbor Master Forum in Anchorage in October. While there, he also hopes to help brainstorm new ways to clean up Alaska’s waterways and create more awareness to reduce pollution.