Sitka crewmember training program accepting applicants

Marine vessels near Cordova Harbor. (May 12, 2020) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

Applications are open for a crewmember training program based in Sitka to help teach young people about commercial fishing opportunities and the industry’s importance to coastal community economies.

The program, sponsored by the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association and Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust, aims to attract younger entrants into an industry where the average fisherman’s age in Alaska is over 50. The application period is open through March 1.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old. Information about the program is at alfafish.org/crewtraining or contact Natalie Sattler at 907-738-1286 or via asft.alfa.programs@gmail.com.

Over the past few years, ALFA member Eric Jordan of the F/V I Gotta has brought more than 40 young people fishing as part of ALFA’s budding crew training program. Jordan has taught these deckhands the intricacies of commercial fishing and demonstrated sustainable fishing practices to encourage a strong conservation ethic.

In 2021, ALFA and ASFT hope to place several apprentices with local skippers and fishing vessels and enhance local employment opportunities.

“With support from NFWF, we have been fortunate to expand the program to include more boasts, crew and communities,” said Linda Behnken, executive director of ALFA. “Our goal is to provide young people with a safe introduction to Alaska’s fisheries and to share the curriculum we have developed through our program with fishing groups in other parts of the state and country.”