Fishing greenhorn Sophie Nethercut aboard the troller I Gotta                                               Credit: Eric Jordan


Want to learn if fishing’s for you?  Apply by March 1 for a crew apprentice position starting this summer.

“Some of the positions will be short, a trip or a day trip, just to allow young people to try fishing and some of the applicants will be placed for a month of the whole season. So it’s going to look different depending on the needs of the skipper and what the crew member is looking for.” 

Alyssa Russell is communications director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association in Sitka.

ALFA got over $140,000 in matching grants from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to launch the apprenticeship program. It’s seen as a way to facilitate more Alaskans into fishing careers in an industry where the average age now is over 50.

“Some people just want to get out and try fishing to find out whether or not they get sea sick or find out if the like being on boats. So we’re trying to serve both needs with the program.”

The apprentice program began informally three years ago with salmon troller Eric Jordan who has introduced over 40 young people to fishing.

For this summer, Russell says more skippers have signed on for several different fisheries.

“We’re really happy that we have quite a few different fisheries represented this year. We have trollers, longliners, gillnetters and seiners and we will be doing a skipper training in early March for the people who are signed on.”

This year the program is centered in Southeast as a trial run, but it can be replicated elsewhere.

“Next year we want to focus on other communities. That said, I definitely believe this model is already exportable. So if anyone is already thinking about starting an apprenticeship this year we can definitely be a resource at any time.”

Applicants must be at least 18 and preference is given to Alaska residents.  Eric Jordan calls the apprentice program a win for all involved.

“Finding Crew with some experience, who loves fishing in Alaska, is so critical to the future of our individual businesses in the industry as a whole. One of the things this program provides is the taste of it. So deckhands know they like it, and skippers can recommend them for future employment. It is a win-win for the crewmembers and the skippers.” 

Deadline to apply is March 1.