ComFish Alaska, billed as the state’s premier commercial fisheries trade show, opens for its 44th year in Kodiak on March 16, with forums ranging from federal and state fisheries issues to bycatch harvests, vessel safety, marine debris and the future of kelp mariculture in the state.
Forty-five vendors, ranging from gear vendors to government agencies and non-profit entities will make up this year’s trade show at Kodiak High School, where three days of forums are also slated.
The presentations are set to open with a federal legislative update from Alaska’s congressional delegation, followed by a review of Gulf of Alaska bycatch-related recommendations proposed by the Alaska Bycatch Review Task Force.
A forum on marine ecosystem partnerships is planned to include highlights of the Skipper Science program, now in its third year, in which fishermen are collaborating with scientists by reporting their observations on ocean conditions and the status of fisheries and sea mammals.
Additionally, a forum on marine debris is to provide details on a collaborative process to identify needs and priorities in cleaning up marine debris in Alaska.
On the event’s second day, Alaska Fish and Game Commissioner Doug Vincent-Lang is expected to provide an update on his department. Other forum topics for Friday, March 17 include insurance needs for vessel owners, common sense risk management for vessel owners, a salmon price report, legislative updates from state Sen. Gary Stevens and Rep. Louise Stutes, both R-Kodiak; retirement planning for fishermen; and how to navigate the North Pacific Fishery Management Council process.
Toby Sullivan, executive director of the Kodiak Maritime Museum, is slated to give a presentation on Alaska’s limited entry program on the final morning of ComFish 2023. Also on the agenda for that day is a forum on the future of kelp mariculture in Alaska.
For those unable to attend in person, Zoom links are planned to be provided for most of the forums.
Fishermen’s Showcase, a popular annual ComFish event, is scheduled to take place outside Kodiak High School on the last afternoon of ComFish 2023, with competition among harvesters on coiling, knot tying, hook throwing, rail tying and donning survival suits, followed by a life raft demonstration.