AYFN is finding that social gatherings, such as this one hosted at the 49th State Brewing Co. in downtown Anchorage, are drawing young harvesters and their mentors together to share stories of their adventures at sea, and to learn about everything from harvesting to fish policy management.
AYFN’s Fishmas party in Homer this past winter drew some 200 people.
“Building these connections with each other is very important,” says Hannah Heimbuch, coordinator for AYFN, and a community organizer in Homer for the Alaska Marine Conservation Council. While young fishermen are technically defined as those under the age of 40, the group spread includes folks from their mid 20s to those with years in fisheries. “It takes all ages to make this industry set the next generation up for success, and mentorship should be part of the network as well,” she said.
Since AMCC initiated AYFN back in December of 2013 the network has introduced an array of projects and activities to support and educate young fishermen. In March of 2016, AYFN led a cross-country educational tour of 11 young fishermen to the Boston Seafood Show, to Washington DC to learn about the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management act, and then to New Orleans for the Slow Fish gathering. This past January a group of young halibut fishermen traveled to the first British Columbia Young Fishermen’s Gathering and to the International Pacific Halibut Commission meeting in Victoria, BC.
“As much as we need young people building strong businesses on the water, we need them learning to navigate the policy arena, advocating for their fisheries and communities,” Heimbuch said.
AYFN wanted to serve as a connector between young people and their mentors, and to important resources and opportunities around the state. “We are building a source for connection, information and inspiration,” she said.
AYFN’s activities, including fishing fellowships by host organizations, are funded by a two-year grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
More information is online at https://www.akyoungfishermen.org/