- Associated Press - Saturday, April 18, 2015

KODIAK, Alaska (AP) - Uncertainty, risk and money have been making it harder for fishermen to make a living in the Kodiak archipelago and Bristol Bay, and have contributed to the “graying” of the fleet as fewer young people join the business, researchers say.

University of Alaska Fairbanks scholars have been documenting the problem in a multi-year study, The Kodiak Daily Mirror (https://bit.ly/1aGtf3W ) reported. They also plan to suggest policy changes that could potentially slow the graying.

The average age of fishing permit-holders in Alaska currently is 50, about 10 years higher than it was in the 1980s, said Danielle Ringer, a master’s student involved in the research.

The research shows it’s also more difficult for people to diversify by fishing in many different fisheries and expand their “fishing portfolio,” as Ringer calls it.

“What I’m hearing from some more experienced guys is that when they got in in the past, you could get in for relatively little money and could go out on an OK boat and you could make a lot of money,” Ringer said. “Now, that seems a lot harder and that might be financially not possible for people.”

Ringer gave a presentation in Kodiak on Wednesday about the first preliminary themes emerging from 52 interviews she has done since the project started.

She’s working with another graduate student in Bristol Bay and Fairbanks professor Courtney Carothers.

The team will be giving surveys to teenage students to gauge their thoughts.

The researchers hope to understand the issues that cause graying of the fleet and document barriers to entry to fisheries.

“We’re doing literature review of policies all over the world right now, so we’ll see what might fit in our communities,” Ringer said.

The Alaska Legislature in 2012 passed a resolution recognizing the graying of the fleet. The measure called for continued work to remove barriers to younger people entering fisheries.

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Information from: Kodiak (Alaska) Daily Mirror, https://www.kodiakdailymirror.com

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