We strengthen fishing communities and marine resources through research, education and economic opportunity.
We aim to educate, activate and inspire consumers, while engaging community-based fishermen in programs that promote healthy fisheries. By combining ecology, economics, and the common good, we work to ensure resilient communities and robust resources throughout coastal Alaska.
Southeast Alaska is home to some of the Earth's healthiest and most robust wild fisheries. An aging fleet, increasing cost of entry to limited access fisheries, and more and more out of state vessel owners threaten local traditions of marine stewardship. Coastal fishing communities face uncertain futures. We aim to protect these communities and the fisheries that sustain them.
In partnership with the Alaska Longline Fishermen's Association (ALFA), ASFT has worked to support initiatives that help fishermen to start and maintain successful fishing operations. ALFA has a long history of providing educational opportunities to fishermen, both new and experienced. Whether by helping fishermen to choose equipment that is more fuel efficient, teaching them about the political process, or teaching them about new tools and software like bathymetric mapping, ALFA works hard to keep fishermen in the know about the policies that affect them and innovations that can help them to use best practices and fish more effectively.
ALFA and ASFT banded together to host the first ever Fishermen's Expo in 2016, which offered workshops on topics such as fuel efficiency, fishing for sablefish using pot gear, and reducing sperm whale depredation on longline gear. Since then, the expo has evolved to focus especially on young people and those who are new to the industry by offering workshops focusing on business skills, beginner's courses in seafloor mapping, and safety courses.
The next Fishermen's Expo is planned for November, 2017, as part of an initiative by the Sitka Seafood Festival to involved more fishermen with the festivities. Check back soon for details!
What is the Local Fish Fund?
The Local Fish Fund, an ongoing project of the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust, helps overcome barriers to entry by providing the cash and administering the loans that young fisherman need to acquire initial ownership of access rights.
With few alternative income sources, Alaska's coastal residents depend on access to healthy fisheries. Privatization of fishery access rights has improved fisheries sustainability and increased returns to shareholders. Simultaneously, limited access programs have also dramatically increased the cost of entry to Alaska fisheries, creating economic barriers for rural Alaskans and reducing the benefits to the communities where the fishing rights were issued. Emerging fishermen have increasingly relied on rented harvest privileges with no guarantee of future access or equity. Fishing is integral to the identity of coastal people; losing access means losing a way of life, and, ultimately, losing communities.
The Local Fish Fund is designed to improve local retention of economic benefits from Alaska fisheries by facilitating transactions between established fishermen, emerging fishermen, and socially responsible investors. The Fund will provide emerging fishermen with a down-payment for an initial quota purchase. Fund investors share with the fisherman in the annual value of the catch. Through this equity partnership, investors reduce the risk faced by new entrants to the fishery, while sharing in the upside as either fish stocks or prices improve. By helping a new generation of fishermen achieve equity in their local fisheries, the Fund seeks to spur the growth of infrastructure and services necessary to sustain rural society in the Gulf of Alaska.
Want to learn more? Check out a video about the Local Fish Fund below: