A local seafood summit designed to strengthen community-based seafood systems at the local, regional and national levels has concluded in Alaska, energizing a group of small boat harvesters, researchers, marketers and others to continue building such seafood systems.
“Meeting salmon people for the first time in my life was overwhelming,” said Jason Jarvis, president of the board of the North American Marine Alliance, whose focus is building a movement toward healthy fisheries and fishing communities.
“The connections we’ve made here collectively are powerful. Where do we go from here?” he asked. “What do we do now?”
Jarvis was among 170 participants from across the U.S. and Canada who gathered Oct. 2-3 to network with others engaged in community-based seafood systems. The Alyeska Hotel in Girdwood, in south central Alaska, hosted the event.
One goal of the fourth Local Seafood Summit was simply to bring people together to share ideas and network, according to Melanie Brown, a veteran Bristol Bay setnetter from Juneau, and organizer for SalmonState, which works to promote healthy fish habitat, and Joshua Stroll, an assistant professor at the University of Maine.
Maritime policy consultant Ephriam Froehlich, whose consulting firm has offices in Alaska and Washington, D.C., urged participants to collaborate and send a message to NOAA Fisheries about who they are and what they want. He also urged them to work to persuade NOAA to permit funds from the Inflation Reduction Act, passed earlier this year, to be used for fishing communities.
Perhaps most importantly, Andy Olsen, executive director of the Native Fishing Association in British Columbia, told harvesters and others to stop in-fighting.
“The aging of the fleet is an issue for all of us,” he said. “We need to collaborate rather than compete.”
More about the Local Catch Network, which organized the conference, is available at www.localcatch.org.