Each summer, dozens of people come to the bay for fishery-related jobs. Most go fishing, but some help manage the fishery or assist in ongoing scientific research. An internship program coordinated by the Bristol Bay Native Association is getting local youth more involved in the science side of summer.
Subsistence fisheries scientist Cody Larson coordinates Bristol Bay Native Association’s fisheries internship program, and says the internships provide local perspective to research projects.
“The intent of the fisheries internships is to really get local expertise in a lot of the projects that the state and federal agencies are doing here,” Larson said. “We want to be able to know what it is that we’re collecting and why we’re doing what we’re doing, to be able to do it ourselves in the future.”
Three interns are participating in the program this summer. Two interns are from New Stuyahok, and are working on several projects each which include biology and anthropology focuses. They’ll spend the summer drifting for kings at Black’s Point on the Nushagak, interviewing folks in Togiak about subsistence fishing, and helping with the counts at the Igushik and Togiak towers. One intern will also spend time at the University of Washington Fisheries Research Institute’s Aleknagik field camp, assisting with biological sampling.
“That’s a good place to do some water sampling, there’s always some stream surveys, collecting biological samples from some of the dead sockeye and also seining some live sockeye,” Larson said. “Biological sampling is really good for him to get under his belt, ‘cause it’s an experience that you can carry with you to a lot of different places in this state.”
A third – the youngest intern - is working on a documentary project focusing on resource uses around the Becharof Wildlife Refuge and Aniakchak National Monument.
“[They’re] traveling to communities and interviewing elders and different community members about how they’re using resources,” Larson said. “Hopefully that intern is being creative and seeing the different types of resources being used there – everything from firewood to wind to dry your fish.”
The internship program has been around for several years. Larson says past fisheries interns have gone on to work in fisheries careers throughout Alaska.
“It’s definitely piqued some interest and played a role in some of the career development for individuals coming out of Bristol Bay,” Larson said.