By Laine Welch
The call is out for trainees who want to learn the fishing life firsthand.
It’s the fifth year that the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association in Sitka has hosted the program which so far has placed over 100 apprentices aboard fishing boats. The training is one way ALFA is attracting younger entrants into Alaska’s industry where the average fisherman's age is over 50.
“We provide an opportunity for young folks to do a short term or long term experience,” said Natalie Sattler, ALFA program and communications director. “Traditionally, a lot of our apprentices or trainers are on longliners and trollers, but we do offer shorter terms, maybe on a gillnetter or a seiner for a day or even a week. And we’ve also had a couple of high school graduates who went out on a tender for the season.”
Eric Jordan has so far mentored over 50 young fishermen aboard his troller, the I Gotta, and believes the future depends on them learning the right ways to care for the fish and the fisheries.
“Finding crew with some experience who love fishing in Alaska is so critical to the future of our individual businesses. One of the things this program provides is the taste of it,” Jordan said. “Deckhands know they like it and skippers can recommend them for future employment. It is a win-win for the crewmembers and the skippers.”
ALFA has shared the Crew Training Program curriculum with several organizations throughout Alaska and the U.S. and has received funding to do so, said Linda Behnken, ALFA director. They include the , the , the and the .
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