As older fishermen retire from the business, fewer young people are recruiting in.  The average age of Alaska permit holders is 50 and is up almost a decade since the 80’s. This statewide crisis is called

The Graying of the Fleet.

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“This trend has been identified, but I think understanding why that is has been a lot of question marks. So our study really sought to provide answers and steps forward in either stalling that trend or reversing it for Alaska’s future of fishing.”

Danielle Ringer

-is just one of a handful of women with the University of Alaska Fairbanks who has dedicated 3 years of research and outreach to bridge the generational gap.
“It’s a multi-faceted problem, and I think that’s why it has been hard for people to understand and actually help address, but we have heard things about management; such as privatization, limited entry, and individual fishing quotas have affected entry and how that relates to both financial costs as well as increased risk.”
 Ringer says 2017 is bringing them to the final stages of the project that focused on Bristol Bay and Kodiak.
“What we have done at this point is gone back to our study communities; we have presented these findings and gotten further feedback. Essentially, did we get it right? Is this how Graying of the Fleet has presented itself in your community? And what do you think we should be doing about it?  
This summer they are producing products to broaden their outreach. For instance, a white paper that speaks to policy solutions.
“We are calling it Turning the Tide- How Alaska can address the Graying of the Fleet and loss of fisheries access. And this product is really going to be summarizing current efforts that exist in Alaska as well as in other Nations and other United Stated Fisheries to address access problems.”
Other outreach includes short animated films and radio spots. Throughout the years of the project, Ringer says there is one thing all fishermen agree on.
“They love fishing! And they want people to keep doing it and they want it to continue to be a thriving industry.”
Learn more at fishermen.alaska.edu

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