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​Graying of the Fleet in Alaska's Fisheries: Defining Problem and Assessing Solutions

The average age of state fishery permit holders in Alaska has increased by 10 years within the past few decades. Older people are retaining permits, and far fewer young people are becoming permit owners. We report here on our findings from a mixed methods ethnographic study of the dynamics creating this “graying of the fleet.” Specifically we will report on our efforts to: 1) document and compare barriers to entry into, and upward mobility within, fisheries among youth and young fishery participants in the Bristol Bay and Kodiak regions; 2) examine the factors influencing young people’s attitudes towards, and level of participation in, Alaska fisheries; 3) identify models of successful pathways to establishing fishing careers among young residents; and 4) identify potential policy responses to address the graying of the fleet and develop specific recommendations consistent with state and federal legal frameworks.