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What do you think about the Dillingham harbor? A Bristol Bay fisherman wants to know

Provided By Tav Ammu

This summer, an Alaska Sea Grant Fellow is creating a survey project to address concern over pollution and waste in small harbors. The project will focus on the Kenia Peninsula and here in Dillingham -- where the fellow also works as a commercial fisherman. 


Every summer, Tav Ammu fishes in Bristol Bay. This season, he will take his work fishing in the bay one step further.

Ammu is an Alaska Sea Grant fellow for clean harbors and clean vessels. His research project involves gathering thoughts and perceptions surrounding water quality from members of the fishing community.

“So it’s kind of gauging how clean people think the harbors are, and why they are that way and how we can make them cleaner,” Ammu said.

Ammu is captaining his own boat this season, but when he has time, he’ll be out on the docks of the Dillingham Harbor with an iPad asking fishermen to complete his survey.

The goal is to get a baseline to understand how people in the fishing community perceive harbor cleanliness. Once surveys are completed, Ammu will create an initial report and then brainstorm new solutions to improve waterways and an awareness of how to reduce pollution.


“So, how polluted it is and why and how we can address it," Ammu explained. "Part of it is to go to the commercial fishermen and boaters that use the harbor and ‘do you think it’s dirty and why?’”

The project is focused specifically on the Kenai Peninsula, where Ammu will also conduct surveys in Ninilchik in the fall. Since he fishes in Dillingham each summer, it made sense for the project to have an additional focus.

This summer, over 400 boats are registered in the Dillingham Harbor. About 230 of those boats are commercial boats while about 200 are registered skiffs.

Ammu took an interest in water quality and conservation while serving in the navy.


“I did not feel there was enough of attention towards cleanliness and sustainability and conservation." he said. "So I got a masters in marine systems and ecologies, and the hope is to bridge the gap between me who fishes and science or policy makers.”

While Ammu won’t have a ton of time to focus on the project while out fishing, he’ll be able to dive deeper once he's off the water.

His goal is to share his results with the Harbor Master Forum in Anchorage this October.

Contact the author at or 907-842-2200.