New Fellows Program Aims To Help Fishermen Communicate


Great story in the Kenai’s Peninsula Clarion yestersday hopes to bring salmon fishers together via a new program, the Alaska Salmon Fellows. 

Here’s the Clarion with some details:

The Alaska Humanities Forum is trying to cool some of the heated tension between salmon fishermen in the state.

The nonprofit, which operates a number of arts and cultural programs throughout the state, launched the Alaska Salmon Fellows program in 2016. The inaugural group of 16 Alaskans includes people from a variety of regions and backgrounds, with the hopes of starting a constructive conversation about salmon management and culture in the state.

Salmon politics in Alaska, particularly in Southcentral Alaska, are notoriously rife with conflict. Through gatherings around the state, online meetings, presentations and projects, the group of fellows is meant to help find solutions to some of that conflict, said Jennifer Gibbins, the leadership program director for the Alaska Humanities Forum.

“As we all know, salmon is really the keystone to much of our culture,” Gibbins said at the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District’s Industry Outlook Forum on Wednesday. “It has to do with cultures, economies, the environment. It also can be a topic that is a great source of conflict.” …

Bringing people together from across the state allows people to share information about their own fisheries with others around the state, who may not know much about other regions’ fisheries. The slate of fellows includes people from communities like Tok and Hooper Bay as well as Juneau and Fairbanks, and with experience in processing, angling, commercial fishing and subsistence fishing.

“My experience with fish meetings is usually I’m so angry or so upset that it’s very hard for me to listen and learn,” Peltola said. “With the salmon fellows, it’s a very different dynamic. We’re not in a room where there’s intensity or aggression or people being on any part of the stages of grief over salmon.”

You can find more about the Alaska Humanities Forum here.