Boats aren’t the only thing that have to be prepped for the fishery. Workshops in Dillingham and Naknek this week will give fishermen a chance to get ready for the business side of fishing.
Just as fishermen are getting their boats ready for fishing, there's business prep to be done too. Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation organizes the annual “Biz of Fish” seminar to help with that.
BBEDC Chairman Robin Samuleson says the group started that several years ago to try and help fishermen be better prepared for the start of the season.
"There’s a lot of changes that happen through the regulatory process, fishery management, enforcement updates that we feel that fishermen need to be aware of," he said. "So we got involved in trying to bring the different state representatives and whatnot together to get the word out to the fishermen of Bristol Bay."
This year, Biz of Fish is Friday in Dillingham and Saturday in Naknek. Both of the agendas include many of the same talks - including information about financing, chilling fish, direct marketing and shore fishery leases.
"So I think it’s going to be pretty interesting," Samuelson said. "We’re a changing industry and we’re changing year to year. ... I think it’s going to be very informative and helpful to those of us that have been around for a while and those that are just entering the fishery.
Some of the other presentations will be a little more area-specific. A different wildlife trooper will talk enforcement each day, and the ADFG forecast and management presentations will also focus more on each region. In Dillingham on Friday, Area Management Biologist Tim Sands will talk about the forecast. And then Samuelson will join him to talk about Nushagak openings.
“I requested that we have this meeting so Tim can hear from fishermen," Samuelson said.
The meeting is the latest in the back-and-forth over whether openings should be scheduled on the flood or ebb each day - and how many there are. Samuelson said he and others weren't happy with the latest plan, under which they'd fish the flood, which developed out of complaints last fall that they had been fishing the ebb too often. But Samuelson said now, the potential for too much flood fishing raises concerns about a line fishery developing.
Friday's meeting is a chance to hash out the plan in person.
"Tim said he’s amenable to going back to the old way if enough fishermen show up and tell him hey, we want two openings a day. We want a minimum of two hour flood, and then the rest ebb," Samuelson said.
The workshop kicks off both days with mug-up at 9 a.m. The Dillingham event will be held at the Bristol Bay Campus, and in Naknek on Saturday, the presentations will be held at Dolly’s Hall.