Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Industry Supports Bristol Bay Fish Expo

Fishing industry entities, government agencies and air carriers are stepping up to participate in the second annual Bristol Bay Fish Expo, June 8–9, in Naknek, Alaska.

The event, on the eve of the Bristol Bay salmon fishery, is a fundraiser for a childcare facility critical to this major Alaska fishery hub.

Taking place at Bristol Bay Borough School, the Expo will feature speed hiring for crew jobs, fishing gear and a fashion show, a live auction, and several dozen vendor booths.

A major attraction in this election year is a gubernatorial debate between incumbent Alaska Gov. Bill Walker and Republican candidates Mike Chanault and Mike Dunleavy. The debate will focus on sustainability in rural Alaska. Candidates will be asked their views on how outmigration, economic development, education, transportation, cost of living, mental health services and resource management are affecting rural communities and fisheries.

“This will be the first gubernatorial debate to be held in Bristol Bay in more than 25 years,” said Alaska Speaker of the House Bryce Edgmon, D-Dillingham.

“Half of the world’s sockeye comes from Bristol Bay, and for more than 100 years its commercial fishing industry has been a mainstay economic driver for Alaska. It’s fitting that the second annual Bristol Bay Fish Expo will be the backdrop for the candidates to discuss their perspectives on advancing the state’s economic future,” Edgmon said.

Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association will hold its annual meeting on the afternoon of June 9.

Bristol Bay Fish Expo got its start a year ago–thanks to Katie Copps-Wilson, a physician’s assistant in Naknek, harvester’s wife, and mother of three school-aged youngsters–to raise funds for the community’s Little Angels Childcare Academy.

The lack of adequate childcare facilities is contributing to a demise in Naknek’s year-round population and Copps-Wilson decided to do something about it.

Now in her second year, she benefits from more help from volunteers and increasing industry support. “We are trying to create one stop shopping for all things fish in Bristol Bay,” she explained. Last year’s speed hiring event resulted in a dozen crew members being hired for the upcoming season. “The captains were so happy. They would go down there (to speed hiring) at 9 a.m. and there were people there ready (to work),” she said.

The event, which brings captains and potential crewmembers together for interviews, is sponsored by Grundens, and the fashion show is sponsored by Nomar, a Homer provider of fishing gear.

Updates on events, vendors and sponsors are posted online at and

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