Semi-directed inteviews

In 2014 and 2015, we interviewed fishermen, crewmembers, community leaders, and other community members with connections to their local commercial fisheries. Much thanks to those who shared their time and their perspectives with us. We have curated a selection of particularly insightful exemplary quotes, which are organized by several key topics below.


“Right now, three of my grandkids, they really want to go out and participate in the fishery, but they can’t without a permit.” Bristol Bay fisherman, May 2015


“[You] better have understanding parents or a really friendly uncle willing to loan you enough money to do it. There’s no really realistic way for anybody of any age that you would even consider young, to own enough collateral for a bank to consider giving them such a high-risk loan… At one point in time it was pretty much anybody that [had] a skiff and wanted to go fishing could. And now regulations changed so much that there’s not really any point, unless you happen to have an extra half a million dollars kicking around.” Kodiak region fisherman, February 2015


“IFQs have priced themselves out of people’s reach and there’s so much uncertainty about payoff. Derby days are done; now it’s more of a business decision to fish.” Kodiak region community member, June 2014


“If guys could just access some halibut without financially impaling themselves I think that would be great, because you could do it on a real small scale and with a very minimal investment. Operationally you can be very profitable at it, but not if you have to lease your rights or buy your rights. There’s really no way for small-scale fishermen to make a profit at it.” Kodiak region fisherman, May 2014

Experience and Mentors:


“A lot of kids in the village here, they’re not experienced. I mean, they didn’t grow up fishing like I did and so you get to be, you know, 16, 18 years old and you have no experience.” Bristol Bay fisherman, February 2015


“Making sure people know about opportunity and have support all the way through. I think some sort of financial counseling would be great. Because my first year when I had to write a huge check to the IRS, that hurt. I don’t think I had any idea how much of our income goes to self-employment tax and all of that. So that would have been really nice to know beforehand. Yeah, I think probably just financial counseling. And maybe creating a business plan.” Bristol Bay fisherman, April 2015

Local Fisheries Access:


“With halibut, if you buy quota, basically quota is priced according to the most efficient harvesters and their returns. So unless you’re going to make a major investment where you can get that same return, it doesn’t make sense to buy it. You’re basically buying an overvalued asset. It doesn’t really work on the small-scale anymore.” Kodiak region fisherman, May 2014


“I think regardless of whether or not it’s a big money maker, it’s part of who we are and the opportunity for people who haven’t been involved or younger people who are just getting involved, I would like to see opportunity for that. Just being involved in that cycle… You’re part of something a lot bigger—you know, you do go down and work hard, you may not make all of your money in the year, but it’s self-sufficiency and reliance and I think it gives people a better sense of themselves.” Bristol Bay region fisherman, February 2015

Supporting and Developing Infrastructure & Outside Employment:

“There’s opportunity for growth in the direct marketing realm but one of the limitations in Kodiak is the market. People can get traction and go fishing so there’s lots of young energy to capture, but the power of processors is limiting. Other places have had cooperative cold storage – have to do these infrastructure things to support young fishermen and their ideas.” Kodiak region community member, June 2014


“I’d like to see a fisherman owned co-op that owns cold storage. I’d like to see a lot more small mom and pop operations and I’d like to see more marketability. I think it’s sustainable for a lot longer, I think it makes ex-vessel value go up tremendously.” Kodiak region fisherman, February 2015


“There are seasonal employment opportunities, but I think those should actually be expanded to year-round. We have this huge influx of people who come in to do the machining, the welding, the fiberglassing, the net hanging—you name it. But I think that if we were smart, we’d set those up to be year-round occupations out here. Where a person could make a decent living doing any one of those things, and instead of cramming four months of sixteen, eighteen hour days in—spend all winter doing eight hours a day doing welding and come home to your family and get a good paycheck.” Bristol Bay region fisherman, March 2015


Love of Fishing:

"I have so much fun doing it [fishing]. I love it. I love being on the water. I love doing what I do. Putting my gear in the water is probably one of the most satisfying feelings you’ll ever feel." Kodiak region fisherman, February 2015

"If you don’t love it you won’t do any good, cause you can’t just go out there and fish, you gotta like to fish." Kodiak region fisherman, June 2014

"[Fishing] is just what I wanted to do since I was a kid. Everybody wanted to do other things and I said, ‘I’m gonna be a captain. I’m gonna be a fisherman. That’s all I wanna do for my life.’ That’s so far all it’s been." Kodiak region fisherman, May 2015