United Fishermen of Alaska (UFA) is using text messaging to keep commercial fishermen informed about salmon habitat developments requiring quick action, and offering prizes for those signing in to stay updated.
It’s all part of UFA’s Salmon Habitat Information Program (SHIP) summer sweepstakes.
“Fishermen care deeply about all issues related to salmon habitat, from ocean acidification and water quality to in river impacts such as dewatering and blocked fish passage,” said Lindsey Bloom, manager of UFA’s SHIP program. “We have also learned that fishermen have a variety of preferred communication styles – texting, social media or email – and we created these sweepstakes to increase our reach to fishermen through multiple channels.”
About once a month SHIP will send text updates directly to fishermen’s phones.
SHIP also invites visits to its Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/UFAAlaskaSalmonHabitat) to guess this summer’s total Bristol Bay sockeye harvest. As of July 25, the preliminary commercial harvest in Bristol Bay exceeded 38 million fish, including 37 million sockeyes, exceeding the sockeye forecast by 10 million fish.
Brett Veerhusen, of Ocean Strategies, said more than 100 entries were received through July 25, and calculated that with the sharing of posts the message had reached over 19,000 people, although some of those were likely duplicates. Participation to date “demonstrates how some fishermen and supporters get their information via social media channels, especially Facebook,” Veerhusen said.
More than 90 fishermen have texted “ufaship” to 313131 to enter the sweepstakes and in total over 170 fishermen are on the texting list to receive information on salmon habitat, proving that cell phones are a viable way to communicate with some fishermen