November 12, 2015

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – A knife sheath that protects fishermen from getting poked. More after this —

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 Few fishermen go to sea without their Vicky – the small, sharp Victorionox Swiss Army knives used for everything that needs a quick cut. But knife sheaths point downwards, and Vicky’s can really poke fishermen scrambling atop pots for crab or cod. So customarily, they duct tape the knives to their belts.

 Yea, we tape it that way because the knife pokes you in the leg laying the way the sheath has it now.

 Anne Morris of Sand Point knew there had to be a better way.

 The sheath they use is made to lay vertical, like a normal sheath up and down the leg. They prefer to wear them horizontal along with the belt, so they tape them sideways to the belt.   The reason they do it that way is for safety reasons and it seemed silly to me that they’d have to use tape. Why couldn’t there be a knife sheath that laid that way instead of using the tape?

Morris created a new knife sheath that solves the pokey problem. She credits her son Justin Drew, a pot cod fishermen, for the idea and dubbed it the JD Beltz. It won first prize last month at the Aleutian Marketplace Business Idea Competition.

 In my presentation the safety issue was it’s quicker to get it out of the sheath with it lying horizontal. And a big reason they war the Vicky too is because nobody wants to go over with a crab pot.

The Marketplace competition is put on each year by the Aleutian Pribilof Island Community Development Association (APICDA) and the Aleut Corporation. Its goal is to promote commerce and innovation in the remote regions, and this year attracted 23 entries.

Morris says she wasn’t surprised at the good response to the JD Beltz.

 No, I knew it was a good idea because a lot of the fishermen do that themselves using the tape, and they related it to it quite quickly.

The Marketplace competition is two-tiered and Morris now moves to the second phase:   a business plan competition that begins in October.

My idea was to include the sheath, the belt and the knife as a package deal instead of having them separate. It might change as I get further and further. I don’t know yet.

Morris hopes to work with a manufacturer and have the nylon webbed Vicky sheaths available by the first of next year. See the JD Beltz at

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