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AK fishermen visit Victoria for fish-focused meetings

From left to right, Carina Nichols, Keith Bell and Peter Neaton. These Alaska fishermen spent 4 days in Victoria attending fish-focused meetings. The Alaska Young Fishermen's Network strives to create opportunities for young fishermen to network with fellow fishermen and fishery leaders, and be more engaged in the policy processes that shape their careers. 

From left to right, Carina Nichols, Keith Bell and Peter Neaton. These Alaska fishermen spent 4 days in Victoria attending fish-focused meetings. The Alaska Young Fishermen's Network strives to create opportunities for young fishermen to network with fellow fishermen and fishery leaders, and be more engaged in the policy processes that shape their careers. 

The Alaska Young Fishermen's Network dove into 2017 with new opportunities around policy engagement and education. Four Alaska fishermen traveled to Victoria, British Columbia in January, to observe the annual meeting of the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC), and visit the inaugural BC Young Fishermen's Gathering. Trip participants were Network coordinator Hannah Heimbuch, along with Keith Bell and Peter Neaton of Homer, and Carina Nichols of Sitka, all of whom participate in halibut fisheries that span Alaska’s coastline.

The IPHC process is a robust management collaboration between two countries and multiple gear types, spanning nearly a century. Just as we’ve seen our fleets greying, we’ve seen the same among the leaders and advocates in these important decision-making bodies. As the Network develops, an important part of our mission is giving fishermen an opportunity to experience this and other management and policy processes. Meeting decision makers and mentors in the policy arena, and gaining insight and experience in the process helps expand fishermen engagement and build a new generation of skilled leaders.

The group's other stop while in Victoria, the Young Fishermen’s Gathering, was geared toward supporting young harvesters in British Columbia, the first of its kind. It was eye-opening to participate in this important discussion, an event modeled after Alaska Sea Grant’s robust Young Fishermen’s Summit. The gathering afforded this Alaska group an opportunity to learn from those in other sectors, and better understand our shared strengths and challenges as North Pacific fishermen. 

In the coming year, the AYFN is going to be growing in important ways and we’re going to need lots of help and ideas along the way from folks like you. We’re putting together a steering committee and regional AYFN chapters that will help create a vision for the AYFN in the future. If you have ideas for ways the Network can support or engage members of your community, please contact Network Coordinator Hannah Heimbuch at hannah@akmarine.org. Sign up to Join the Network , or check in with the events page, to keep up on Network activities and upcoming opportunities.

The Alaska Young Fishermen's Network is supported by the Alaska Marine Conservation Council, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the Alaska Humanities Forum.