Age of Alaska's fishermen on the rise

Salmon are hauled in on a commercial fishing boat in the Copper River fishery.
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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The state's fishing population is aging according to those at Alaska’s Young Fishermen's Summit at the Dena'ina Center in Anchorage.

According to a study by the University of Fairbanks, the average age of an Alaska commercial fisherman is now 50 years old.

Paula Cullenburg, Director of Alaska's Sea Grant Program at UAF, says that's bad news for sustaining the state's economy, especially for those in coastal communities.

However, she's hopeful the 84 young fishing professionals taking part in the summit can gain knowledge that will help foster the fishing industry.

"You can feel the energy in that room and you can really tell that this generation of fishermen is looking ahead thinking that they're going to be involved in this occupation for decades to come," said Cullenburg.

Commercial fisherman Gabe Dunham said he wants to help pass the torch to those ready, eager, and waiting to jump into one of Alaska’s most important industries. Dunham believes that the summit can better help people in their 20s and even 30s better understand how to manage, grow their money, track their product and help preserve Alaska’s seafood industry.

"I suppose looking back skippers were always an older person, a mentor to look up to but between now and then it does not seem like skippers get any younger," said Dunham.

More than 60 percent of the seafood in the U.S. comes from Alaska.

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