I feel fortunate to have grown up around commercial fishing and knew at a young age I wanted to run my own boat someday. Being born and raised in Kodiak and a 5th generation fisherman, it was in my blood, I guess. I wanted to build a career out of small-boat commercial fishing around my island home and worked hard, with the support of my family, to make it happen. Despite the ups and downs that come with fishing, I hope that I can inspire younger generations to do the same. Being out on the water and fishing sustainably is incredibly rewarding, not only to me, personally, but to my community as a whole. Commercial fishing is the economic engine that drives our town and I’m proud to be a part of it.
That is why I’m thrilled to see the Young Fishermen’s Development Act (YFDA) advance through markup in the senate with the support of Sen. Dan Sullivan. I hope to find similar action taken in the House, under the leadership of Rep. Don Young, so that young people interested in this career path have better access to pursuing it.
Teaching young people to fish with conservation in mind allows us to create a safe industry that can flourish for years to come. Unfortunately, at the moment, young folks are having trouble joining the ranks of fishermen in coastal communities nationwide. I’ve felt the strain, myself, here in Alaska despite the opportunity that comes with being raised into the industry. The YFDA will give these young men and women the boost they need to get their feet wet and dive into a successful fishing career by providing apprenticeships and educational courses. I had the opportunity to walk the Hill in Washington D.C. last Spring in support of the YFDA. As I learned more about the Act, it was clear to me that such courses would have been really helpful when I was trying to figure it all out those first few years.
I’m only 30 and have a long career ahead, and I see many fishermen with decades of experience in the Kodiak fleet stepping out of the limelight. We need new generations ready to take over.
The YFDA allows for a smooth transition, and I’m hopeful that it will continue to progress in Washington.
Charles M. Peterson
F/V Patricia Sue