Southeast AK Shrimp Fishermen Could Receive Up To $12,000

Southeast Alaska commercial shrimp fishermen may have up to $12,000 from Uncle Sam waiting for them – but only if they sign up before Dec. 23 for a free federal program that provides training for people in industries suffering from foreign competition.

The UAF Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program would host the training workshops in several Panhandle communities where eligible fishermen live.

Alaska’s commercial shrimp fishermen have faced stiff competition from foreign shrimp fishermen and farmers. Because of low prices and lack of markets, only about 100 of the state’s 300 permitted shrimp fishermen actually fished in recent years. Most of the permit-holders live and work in Southeast Alaska.

“Alaska commercial shrimp fishermen have been severely diminished economically in recent years,” said Glenn Haight, fisheries business specialist with the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program. “There’s hardly any commercial fishing for shrimp here now. There just isn’t much of a market and the prices are low.”

Haight said Canadian shrimp dominate the coldwater shrimp fishery where Alaska shrimp normally compete.

The compensation and training is being offered through the US Department of Agriculture. To qualify for compensation, fishermen must have caught and landed shrimp in either the pot or beam trawl commercial fishery in 2008 and during at least one of the three previous years. Crew and spouses of eligible permit holders also may qualify.

Of the 100 or so fishermen that may qualify for the free program, Haight said only about ten fishermen have so far signed up for the training. The sign-up deadline is Dec. 23, 2010.

To receive the cash payout, eligible fishermen must enroll and take 16 hours of industry-specific training in order to receive up to $4,000, Haight explained. Following that, eligible fishermen must write a business plan that implements changes to their operations aimed at making them more profitable and competitive, or moves them into a different line of work. Once fishermen complete that, they would get up to $8,000 in additional compensation.

The exact amount of cash shrimp fishermen will receive depends on how many fishermen across the country take advantage of the program. The training and compensation is being offered to shrimp fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico and lobster fishermen in the northeast.

Alaska Sea Grant’s Marine Advisory Program is conducting the Alaska training. Depending on the number of qualified fishermen, the Marine Advisory Program will hold as many as six workshops in Southeast communities. Training will include business management and planning, state and global seafood markets, direct seafood marketing, fisheries management, financial management and other related topics.

The deadline to sign up is Dec. 23, 2010. Signups must be done through the Alaska USDA Farm Service Agency. To learn more about the program, contact any of the following people:

USDA Farm Service Agency

Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program