Seafarers’ Union looks to Alaska as it searches for hundreds of apprentices on contract ships
Alaskan fishermen displaced by the COVID pandemic are being recruited for maritime jobs aboard freight barges, tankers, tugs, military support vessels, US research and cruise ships, and more.
The International Seafarers Union is looking for 300 apprentice workers on the ships they are contracted to equip. Recruiters tout the Alaskans as being at the top of their list.
“The reason is that the people of Alaska already have a work ethic. They have been working since they can get up. And that’s why they’re so good, ”said Bart Rogers, assistant vice president of the Harry Lundeberg School of Seamanship in Maryland, which has been training sailors for the union for more than 50 years.
“It’s very appealing to people who live in Alaska because they can navigate in a safe environment, earn a really good salary, get benefits and medical coverage for themselves and their families, advanced training is guaranteed, and then they can. go home and spend the money they make, ”said Rich Berkowitz, vice president of Pacific Coast operations at the Seattle Transportation Institute, which helps recruit and assess potential sailors, adding that it also includes options for veterans and aboriginal hiring.
Currently, the call is being made to train workers for competent seafarers, a qualification necessary to navigate abroad, and chefs and stewards. Training programs vary from several months to a year, Rogers said, adding that there is no tuition fee but the school does charge ancillary fees.
Berkowitz pointed out another draw for Alaskans. Once they have successfully completed the training and on board the vessels, they can plan trips that still allow them to go fishing.
“Let’s say they’re in the hospitality trades – they can work a good portion of the cruise season and then spend three or four months working during a fishing season,” he says.
Ralph Mirsky, director of Sealink, a nonprofit organization based in Ketchikan, has recruited nearly 600 Alaskans into maritime trades in 20 years.
“And the reason is very simple,” he said. “They make a lot of money in a short period of time and can still do whatever they want from home.”
Women make up about 15% of the US maritime workforce, estimated at 14,000 people.
“There are at least two or three in each class,” said Bart Rogers. “And don’t get me wrong, but women are smarter and work harder than men all day long.”
Berkowitz added that Alaska enjoys an economic advantage from its residents working in maritime commerce.
“All the time on planes in Seattle, I see oil workers flying to Alaska from Montana or Texas to work for two weeks on the slope. What we are doing is the opposite, ”he said. “We send Alaskans out where they make all their money and then they bring it back. They spend nothing while they are on the ships. It is therefore a net contributor to the state economy, not a loss for it. “
Fishing Updates – It’s hard to believe, but in just over a month, Alaskan salmon season will officially begin with the return of sockeye and chinook salmon to the Copper River near Cordova! During this time, there is a lot of fishing activity all over the state.
It has been slow in Sitka Sound, where around 20 purse seiners continue to operate a herring crop of 67 million pounds. A herring spawning on the kelp fishery is also underway at Craig and Klawock with a harvest of nearly 38 million pounds, the highest on record. Kodiak’s herring fishery continues with a catch limit of 16 million pounds.
Divers continue to descend for over half a million pounds of geoduck clams. The sea cucumber fishery closed on March 31 with an authorized harvest of 1.7 million pounds.
A ling cod fishery opens in the southeast on May 16 with a quota of 310,700 pounds.
Prince William Sound’s popular pot shrimp fishery begins April 15 with a catch limit of 70,000 pounds. The region has also just completed a small Tanner crab fishery.
The Kodiak Sleeper Fishery opens in one region on May 1, and another opening will follow in mid-June.
Cook Inlet opens for 150 tonnes of bait herring (300,000 pounds) from April 20 to May, and a smelt fishery opens from May 1 to June for 200 tonnes (400,000 pounds).
In the Bering Sea, crabbers had captured nearly 80% of their 40.5 million pound snow crab harvest, as well as 62% of a limit of 2.1 million Tanner crab and 80% of a quota of 6 million pounds of golden king crab.
Fishing continues in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea for pollock, cod, plaice and many other types of fish.
Sablefish (black cod) catches approached 3 million pounds out of a quota of 43.4 million pounds. Sitka had the most shipments and paid well in five book categories:
Halibut prices hit $ 6 at Homer and $ 6.15 at Seward, although catches remained low. Landings ultimately exceeded £ 1million out of a catch limit of £ 19million, with Juneau leading all ports for landings.
And after five years of discussions, the North Pacific Fisheries Management Board could put the brakes on halibut taken as bycatch by 18 trawlers / processors in the Bering Sea that target plaice, perch and mackerel. Boats are required by federal law to throw all halibut overboard as a “prohibited species” catch.
Unlike other commercial, athletic, and subsistence users whose halibut catches fluctuate each year depending on the health of the stock, Seattle-based trawlers have a fixed bycatch cap of 7.3 million pounds. Instead, the council will consider basing this bycatch cap on the annual abundance levels of halibut.
Goodbye Phil – Lifetime Alaskan friend and mentor Phil Smith passed away peacefully at his home in Juneau on March 30, surrounded by family. He was 78 years old. Phil served on the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission from 1983 to 1991. In 1995, NOAA Fisheries commissioned him to develop and implement Alaska’s first individual fishing quota program for halibut. and sablefish, a model for others to cross into the United States. management, a Subsistence Halibut Registration Certificate License (SHARC) was created, which allowed subsistence fishing for rural residents and natives of Alaska. Phil has been invited to speak at international conferences to discuss this program and has served as an expert for the UN advising Chile on its fisheries management reforms.
Its positive effects on the management of Alaska’s fisheries, among others, will last forever. In the words of his son, Crispian, Phil’s unique combination of incisive intelligence, encyclopedic knowledge, and boundless love has affected and inspired many people. He will be sorely missed. Donations can be made to the Sitka Summer Music Festival or the Veterans for Peace Chapter 100 scholarship fund in Juneau.
Heat waves, algae blooms and birds, oh dear! The Kodiak Archipelago is presented during a virtual marine science symposium that will take place April 19-22. Organized by the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program, this is the fourth regional gathering that connects the island community with the science and research ongoing around it.
Keynote speaker is Steve Barbeaux from the Alaska Fisheries Science Center, who will describe how unprecedented warming in the Gulf of Alaska caused a cod crash in 2018 and a fishery shutdown in 2020, and how the stock could stabilize in a warming world.