High costs discourage young Alaskans from commercial fishing

Cultural anthropologist Rachel Donkersloot it's a blow to village economics and identity when young people don't fish.

SEWARD, Alaska (AP) — Alaska provides more than 55 percent of U.S seafood production but state leaders are worried about who is catching it.

Fewer young Alaskans are jumping into commercial fishing and it's having an effect on the state's coastal communities. In 1985, the average age of an Alaska permit holder was 40 and now it's 50.

Cultural anthropologist Rachel Donkersloot says commercial fishing is the economic backbone of rural coastal villages and when young people don't fish, it's a blow to village economics and identity.

A study she co-authored says the top obstacle to young Alaskans entering commercial fishing is the high cost. Fishing permits can cost more than a boat.

Some regions such as Bristol Bay are using grants to help young Alaskans get into the business.

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