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Business of Fish classes, Marine Safety training on the docket in May

A deckhand trainee gets checked out by instructor Gabe Dunham before a test swim in the Dillingham harbor
Corinne Smith
A deckhand trainee gets checked out by instructor Gabe Dunham before a test swim in the Dillingham harbor. June 2022.

On KDLG's Community Corner, we feature events and resources for people in Bristol Bay during our morning and noon news hours. If you have something you'd like to share, let us know! Call 907-842-2200 or email

KDLG spoke to Alaska Sea Grant's Tav Ammu about BBEDC's upcoming Business of Fish classes. They'll be held in Dillingham, Manokotak, Togiak and Naknek. We also talked about the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association training, which is set for later this month in Dillingham.

Izzy Ross: Today I have a guest in the studio, Tav Ammu. Go ahead and introduce yourself Tav.

Tav Ammu: Hello, I'm Tav Ammu with Alaska Sea Grant. And Alaska Sea Grant is an organization that coordinates between the University of Alaska Fairbanks and NOAA.

Ross: Thank you for joining us today. I hope you had a great weekend and a great start to your week. What is on the docket for the Sea Grant and for the campus?

Ammu: So we're excited. Not this week, but next week, we're having a Business of Fish with BBEDC, and we're going to different communities around the bay to give presentations. We have several presenters, Alice Ruby, Tim Sands, Andrew Miller, me and Tony Zoch from a variety of different organizations.

Monday we'll be in Dillingham at the Bristol Bay Campus that is available in person and online. Tuesday we'll be at the Manokotak Village Council. Wednesday we'll be in Togiak at the Togiak Traditional Council. And Thursday will be in Naknek at the Naknek Native Village Council.

Ross: With the Business of Fish classes in several communities around the region, what can folks expect in those sessions?

Ammu: Well, we'll have a couple presentations from BBEDC. We'll have a presentation from ADF&G, from the Department of Natural Resources and me kind of talking about different programs and what's happening in our neck of the woods. And I will be talking about the skipper apprenticeship program that will be starting up after this summer season.

Ross: What is that?

Ammu: It's a tiered training program. And the goal is: Try to help people who are interested in getting into the fishery to have a sort of platform of learning the necessary skills and capabilities from the ground up. So starting out as a green horn and working up to becoming a potential skipper, or D-Boat captain, or a D-Boat co-permit owner. So all the skills that you would need to get from greenhorn to that.

We break it up into manageable, formal education where it's a safe learning environment. And then the idea is that they will still be fishing during the summer and learning on-the-job skills and also being able to come with questions and find any holes in their education and bring it to the classroom.

Ross: So that program as well as a few others are going to be featured in these sessions that you mentioned, it will be in Manokotak, Naknek —

Ammu: Togiak and [Dillingham]. Yep.

Ross: What else are you all looking at for this month?

Ammu: Yeah, so that is next week. And then on the 19th, 20th and 21st of [May], we are starting our AMSEA crew class here in Dillingham. So, marine safety, onboard drill conductor and introduction to gillnet fishing here at the Dillingham campus.

Ross: What is the AMSEA training program?

Ammu: AMSEA is Alaska Marine Safety Education Association. And it's teaching folks about being on the water and safe practices and then how to don immersion suits. We'll actually get in immersion suits and get in the water and swim around and practice that. And just talk about safe practices on board.

And then because we're a commercial fishing area, we have a lot of introduction to fisheries training. So knot tying, net mending, hanging, things like that.

Ross: And for those of you who are listening who might not know what an immersion suit looks like, can you explain it?

Ammu: Yeah, it's also called the Gumby suit. It's very warm, thick, not-too-easy-to-maneuver-within, awkward, but really warm. And the idea is that you can survive for a long time in there if you accidentally go in the water.

Ross: Right, because the water is very cold. And so it's really important to have something like that. I think last summer there. They did some training in the harbor, and so you saw a few people which — God love them. I don't think I'd ever take a dip in the harbor — but I think we saw a few people swimming around in the immersion suits as part of that training.

Ammu: Yeah, so we had two classes last year and both of them got in the harbor. One before the dock got in there. We were able to get people in, still. So yeah, that's the plan this year as well, is to get folks in the harbor and swim around.

Ross: Great. Well, Tav, thank you so much for stopping by and giving us a few updates I really appreciate it.

Ammu: Thank you.

Get in touch with the author at or 907-842-2200.

Izzy Ross is the news director at KDLG, the NPR member station in Dillingham. She reports, edits, and hosts stories from around the Bristol Bay region, and collaborates with other radio stations across the state.