ALFA received a $70,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation late last year to expand this program in Sitka and to support efforts to launch similar programs elsewhere in Alaska.
The grant, leveraged with support from the city of Sitka and ALFA members, was awarded as part of NFWF’s Fisheries Innovation Fund. Its aim to improve management that strengthens the welfare of fishermen and local communities, promoting health fish stocks and healthy fisheries.
“With support from NFWF, we plan to expand the program to include more boats, crew and communities,” said Linda Behnken, executive director of AFLA. “Giving young people an introduction to Alaska’s commercial fisheries will help sustain our fishing communities and create the next generation of resource stewards.”
Over the past three years, Sitka-based harvester Eric Jordan of the fishing vessel I Gotta has introduced over 40 young people to commercial fishing as part of the program. Apprentice deckhands are taught the intricacies of commercial salmon trolling, including sustainable fishing practices and conservation ethics.
“The future of our fisheries is dependent on young fishermen learning to love and care for the fish we harvest and the habitat essential to their well-being,” Jordan said. “Our generation’s legacy will be defined as we, Alaskan fishermen, rebuilt and enhanced our fisheries, and how we mentored the next generation.”
ALFA plans to expand the program over the next two years to include more vessels, skippers and crewmembers.
Application information is available online at http://www.alfafish.org/apprenticeship/