Sitka festival supports fishing communities

Storytelling, films, lectures, tours and an ocean treasure hunt are all on the agenda for the Sitka Seafood Festival, beginning on Aug. 10, Wild Salmon Day, and running through Aug. 19 in this Southeast Alaska fishing community.

All proceeds will go towards funding the Young Fishermen’s Initiative. Central to the mission of the Sitka Seafood Festival, as well as the mission of Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust, is the belief that Alaska needs a vibrant and sustainable fishing industry supporting economically empowered and self-sufficient Alaska communities, says Willow Moore, executive director of ASFT.

“The Sitka Seafood Festival celebrates the fishing culture and heritage that local economies (and plates and palates) depend on, and the unique ecosystems of Southeast Alaska that sustain our local fish and families as they grow,” she said.

The Sitka Seafood Festival began in 2009 as a celebration of wild Alaskan seafood, and kept on growing until, in 2012, it became a nonprofit organization.

After a brief hiatus last year, the festival was adopted by ASFT, which will host the 2017 festivities for the first time in partnership with the Alaska Longline fishermen’s Association.

ASFT is a Sitka-based nonprofit dedicated to strengthening fishing communities and marine resources though research, education and economic opportunity. ALFA is an alliance of local small boat, sustainability oriented fishermen working to support the economy of coastal communities by involving fishermen in research, advocacy and conservation initiatives.

James Carlton, professor of marine sciences emeritus at Williams College, will offer a marine biology lecture and tours of the local harbor. Carlton will speak on “Coming to America: Invasive Species, Ocean Rafting and Japanese Tsunami Marine Debris,” at the Sitka Sound Science Center.

Other festival events will include a storytelling night, a seafood trivia night, a film festival, educational booths and games, fish skin sewing classes and a family-friendly ocean treasure hunt around the Japonski Island boathouse, sponsored by the Sitka Maritime Heritage Society.

Find the full schedule of events at sitkaseafoodfestival.com

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