GAPP Social Media and Membership Coordinator, Lydia Moore , June 30, 2022

Fisheries Leadership Project Inspires Next Generation

 

I had the honor of being one of the candidates chosen to participate in the Northwest Fisheries Association (NWFA) Fisheries Leadership Project (FLP). On NWFA’s website, they state their mission with this program is to “present the diverse aspects and opportunities of the Northwest fishing industry to the younger generation”. I think that’s exactly what they do!

As a candidate, I showed up in May at the Admiral’s House in Seattle, WA, where I met with a handful of young professionals that work in one way or another with the fishing industry. The program was spearheaded that day by Jeb Towne of Global Seas, and Val Motley of NWFA, who both made a great pair in educating and relaying loads of information to us “young folk” or as they called us, the “next generation”.

I think there’s something inspiring about being part of the next generation. Much of the Wild Alaska Pollock industry are the folks that have been around for quite a long time. They know the industry like the back of their hand. Then, there’s us. We’re learning with vigor and excitement and ready to take on the challenges and break barriers that haven’t been faced just yet. Whether that be getting more women in seafood, minorities, or modernizing what’s old into what’s new… it’s exciting! This energy is just what I felt that day. An excitement and feeling that what each of us was doing truly mattered. That’s why this program exists, to grow our knowledge and train our brains to think about each and every task that goes into bringing fish to consumers' tables.

FLP meets two times for educational, jam-packed days in May and September. Then, we will graduate at the Pacific Marine Expo in November 2022. In May, we fit a lot into one day. We met a lot of leaders that are valuable in the supply chain process of Northwest seafood. Maybe I am biased- but my favorite part was tailoring all the experiences to my Wild Alaska Pollock needs. Cue me raising my hand at each session figuring out how it tied in with the fishery I work in. (Think annoying kid in class who has all the questions- yeah, that was me.)

The other young leaders who were also part of the program consisted of many different industries, including but not limited to: cold storage, R&D, food science, maritime and marine studies, and nonprofits that raise awareness for specific fisheries within specific regions of Alaska. It was inspiring to see so many people involved in an array of duties within the industry. It made me feel like I was connecting and learning hands-on, from the best.

We started the day at Independent Packers Corporation (IPC) processing facility at Pier 91 where we walked through the facility to see what all it takes to prepare value-added seafood and more. Watching the savory mixes of spices being ready to glaze each fillet was fascinating.

After that, we headed over to Lake Union Dry Dock and hopped onto the Global Seas fishing vessel, the Defender. It was in the works of repairs and what I liked to call “makeover mode”. Fresh paint coats, workers ensuring each and every bolt was fastened and that each part was working just right- it goes to show just how much goes into getting our fishermen in the Wild Alaska Pollock industry out to sea. We got a tour of the boat's inner crevices, with the operations crew showing us up close and personal where the technology to prevent bycatch is placed, where the tube is that you can see fish flying through to come on board the boat destined for processing, and all the specific guidelines and regulations they enforce on their boat for responsibly-managed practices.

Shortly after we left Lake Union Dry Dock, we headed over to Lineage Cold Storage on Pier 91. Was it ice cold? Yes. Did our tour guide have the most enthusiastic, well-versed knowledge about seafood quality management? Triple yes. But, in all reality, this was one of my favorite parts. We got to dive into where all our seafood goes before grocery retailers or restaurant groups get delivered icy fresh products. It was reassuring to see how seriously they take their jobs and how big of a role they play in delivering high-quality seafood to thousands, and maybe even millions, of hungry seafoodies.

After Lineage, we rode over to Western Towboat Company, a towboat company based in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. We met one of the prodigies, Ross Shrewsbury, of the family-owned business that has been open since 1948. They operate and tow tugs and barges from Puget Sound to the Aleutian Islands, from Arctic Alaska to the Hawaiian Islands, and to the Panama Canal. My main takeaways from Western Towboat were how pristinely polished clean their boats were kept, and how personable of a company this is. Currently, the founding owner’s family runs the company and boy do they have stories to tell about their family-run company. I was captivated listening to his stories of growing up in Seattle and watching his dad draft and design on pieces of scrap paper his own hand-drawn prototypes for the beautiful navy and yellow boats that lined their pier. I love a good personal anecdote.

At the end of the day, we headed back to Global Seas and reflected on all we learned. My key takeaways? First, I loved watching at IPC what goes into value-added seafood, and it made me want to get more involved with what the Wild Alaska Pollock fishery is doing to create value-added products. Second, I loved getting to go on the Defender and live the life of a fisherman. You see the nitty-gritty of it all, and you truly appreciate it, especially when it’s a boat of fishermen that are fishing for my favorite fish (Wild Alaska Pollock) and providing us with the product my job is to market! Third, Lineage cold storage made me appreciate the detail-minded and process-driven workers that help maintain quality products like our fish sticks and bags of frozen seafood we see in our grocery stores. No doubt about it, they’re keeping our product safe and sound. And lastly, I loved seeing the human element that ropes so many people in, that so many families and communities have relied on our fisheries for years, and will continue to rely on them for years to come. It’s inspiring and makes you want to keep up the good work and continue the momentum.

As you can probably tell, I am already looking forward to the next one. July… can you come sooner!? Until then, I continue to raise awareness and demand of Wild Alaska Pollock and look forward to my awesome privilege of getting hands-on experience. Thank you NWFA and GAPP for letting me learn!


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