Crew Training Program

Applications for 2022 Season NOW OPEN!

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ALFA’s Crew Training Program application period is now open for the 2022 season. Please click link above to apply.

Formalized as part of ALFA’s Young Fishermen Initiative in 2015— in late 2017 ALFA was awarded funds to get more boots on deck statewide. Since 2015, ALFA has placed over 100 apprentices on local fishing vessels in Southeast Alaska.

Cathryn Klusmeier and Jake Metzger fish on the F/V I Gotta as part of ALFA's deckhand training program. Photo by Eric Jordan.

This crew training program is a way to attract younger entrants into an industry where the average fisherman's age in Alaska is over 50. 

Over several years, ALFA Member Eric Jordan of the F/V I Gotta brought over 40 young people fishing as part of ALFA’s budding Crew Training Program. While on the water, Eric teaches these deckhands the intricacies of commercial fishing and demonstrates sustainable fishing practices to encourage a strong conservation ethic. 

I would certainly recommend trolling to those who want to spend their summer living, not just working, on a boat, day in and day out, pursuing some of the most impressive fish in the Pacific.
— Cathryn Klusmeier, deckhand on the F/V I Gotta
Eric Jordan, skipper of the F/V I Gotta, has taken over 40 young people commercial fishing in the last three years. Photo by Alyssa Russell/ALFA.

Formalized as part of ALFA’s Young Fishermen Initiative in 2015, the program aims to: 1) provide young people with an interest in pursuing a career in commercial fishing an opportunity to gain experience; and, 2) give young people the opportunity to better understand commercial fishing, the lifestyle it provides, and its important role in supporting coastal communities. All while providing a safe, well-guided, entry level experience.

ALFA member and skiff fisherman Terry Perensovich became the second captain to join the program in summer 2017, beginning a ever growing program that continues to include more skippers, crew, regions, and fisheries. ALFA hopes to continue expanding over the coming years, and will share lessons learned with other communities interested in starting their own programs.

The Crew Training Program helps skippers select, prepare and safely introduce greenhorn, beginner crew to commercial fishing, while also providing resources to young people to ensure they are ready for their first professional fishing experience.

Although the goal is to help as many young people enter the industry as possible, after participating deckhands might fish for just a day, a week, a season, or their entire lifetime. ALFA considers all participation a success. Even if their fishing careers end after one trip, they gain new understanding and appreciation for commercial fishing, small boats, and sustainable fishing practices.

Thank you to everyone who applied and participated in the 2020 fishing season!
— ALFA Staff

ALFA has been awarded several grants to support this program from groups including the Edgerton Foundation, the City and Borough of Sitka, the Alaska Community Foundation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. ALFA is very grateful for the support of these organizations and from our community.

For the 2022 season, ALFA will be placing two types of deckhands. The vast majority of deckhands will be on troll or longline vessels, but we may have a few seine and gillnet opportunities as well. Read on to learn more and to apply! 

Deckhands will be compensated for their time. 

1) Short-term experience

Maybe you've always wanted to experience commercial fishing, but other obligations are keeping you from fishing a whole season. Or, you want to give fishing a try (and find out how it suits you) before you commit to months on the water! If this is your case a short-term experience (lasting one day to one week) might be right for you!

2) Long-term experience 

You are ready to dive into commercial fishing and start your first fishing job! With positions lasting from one week to several (3-4) months, longer term positions pay a normal deckhand fare and are a great opportunity for those interested in going deeper into the world of commercial fishing, through a life-changing summer experience. 


ALFA would be happy to work with long-term applicants who want to try a short term fishing trip (to try it out first) before starting a long-term, season-long position. Let us know if this interests you! 

After application period closes, ALFA will review all applications. Finalists should start hearing back from skippers late April-June.

If you have questions about participating in the program as an apprentice or as a skipper please contact Natalie at


Do You Live in A Community That Could Benefit from a Crew Training Program?

We want to spread this program to other communities! Our program materials are available to other organizations and communities throughout Alaska and the country interested in starting their own crew programs. Let us know if you would like more information by emailing Natalie Sattler at

Are You a Skipper Interested in Participating in the Program? 

Are you in need of new crew and interested in mentoring young people, new to commercial fishing? We are looking for skippers willing to take apprentices out on the water for as little as a day or as long as an entire season. 

Participating in the deckhand training program is a great way to find new crew for next season! Contact Natalie Sattler at if you are interested in participating or have questions about program details.  

I keep trolling because it’s a kind of work that I really enjoy in a setting that I’m consistently in awe of. Trolling is salty, bloody, physical, and a complete grind, but I really enjoy the oscillation between my summers, which are on the water, and my winters, which are full of more academic and writing-based work. Clearly none of this is at all possible without a really excellent Skipper. When you spend that much time on a small fishing boat in Southeast Alaska, a good working and living relationship is possibly the most important aspect of the job.

What is the experience like? I suppose first and foremost when you go trolling for the entire summer it becomes so much more than just catching fish. You are working a job, certainly, but it’s a job without set hours and the workplace is a constantly changing floating landscape which just happens to be where you are also eating, sleeping, cooking, and waiting for the King salmon to bite. Southeast Alaska is quite possibly the best place to do any of this.
— Cathryn Klusmeier, deckhand on the F/V I Gotta