December 8 2014


This is Fish Radio. I’m Stephanie Mangini. Finding ways to keep young fishermen fishing. More after this…

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As older fishermen retire from the business, fewer young people are recruiting in.  The average age of Alaska permit holders is 47 — and there are twice as many permit holders aged 45 to 60 as there are between 30 and 44.  An ambitious project has been underway to find ways to overcome the obstacles facing young recruits. 

 “Like the title says, the Graying of the Fleet. It is when current commercial fisheries permit holders are approaching retirement age. Our focus is on the potential impacts of succession and access rights on rural livelihood. So our study is really seeking to better define the whole issue, look at the phenomenon itself and then go beyond that. I am really excited about it! It is something that I think has a lot of potential impact for supporting our state and moving forward.”


Danielle Ringer is just one out of a handful of Alaska women involved in the project funded by Alaska Sea Grant and the North Pacific Research Board.  


“So there are several ladies working on it and they are all from different organizations; bringing their unique perspectives to the issue.”


Their mission is to look at all angles of the problem so they can help initiate a solution. They are taking it a step further.


“We actually want to move toward identifying actual policy responses and developing specific recommendations on both state and federal levels to really address the growing problem.”


As of now the Kodiak Archipelago and Bristol Bay is where they are gathering their research.


“In Kodiak we have several communities so far; the city of Kodiak, Ouzinki, and Old Harbor. And we hope to see several other villages to include their perspectives as well. And in the Bristol Bay area we’ve got Dillingham, Togiak, Kanakanak, and the Bristol Bay borough.”


Ringer says throughout all of these different communities there are looking for several objectives.


“The First is, understanding the barriers to entry, and looking at upward mobility within fisheries among local youth, but also new fishery participants. Also looking at different economics, social and cultural factors that are really influencing how young people view fisheries and their attitude toward fishing as a possible career and their different levels of participation.”



“Once we have done that we are really hoping to be able to identify models of successful pathways to   establishing ownership levels and careers, so if folks are interested in being a crew member and moving up to getting a small boat and moving up from there, we really want to figure out how people on the ground are doing that in these different communities.”


Interviews for the project or ongoing; and high school student surveys will begin next year. For more information go to or find links at our website

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