Commercial Fishing Apprenticeship Program

Initiative to train new fishery entrants

While California commercial fisheries have been downsized over recent years, commercial fishing still provides a viable career for young people. This is particularly true given the recent local food movement that is supporting the development of direct marketing of seafood products, with fishermen obtaining a higher price for their catch.

These current fishing and new marketing opportunities, however, are not well known and they require additional training as regulations have become more complex and selling one’s product requires additional skills. Further, with the California commercial fleet aging – Santa Barbara Channel commercial fishermen in 2007 were on average 52 years old – there is a need to recruit young, well-educated people into commercial fisheries to maintain this important California coastal heritage. We are developing an apprenticeship program to help educate young people about the opportunities in commercial fishing, while educating them about the regulations, skills and co-management approach necessary to keep commercial fishing economically, ecologically and socially sustainable.

We are designing a 2000 hr (generally 1.5-2 yr) commercial fishing apprenticeship program involving classwork and hands-on training that meets the State’s standards so that, by the end of this 2 year-long FIF project, the apprenticeship will be offered as part of the State Apprenticeship Program. The state program requires each apprenticeship to involve:

  1. California Division of Apprenticeship Standards,
  2. Employers to pay for the apprentices’ education and to employ apprentices during (and after) training,
  3. Education Partners to host the classroom curriculum.

Further, fishing operations in California are diverse and often individually-owned making it important to engage and include a wide range of input from this pool of potential employers. The activities to achieve this outcome, therefore, focus on:

  1. development of classroom curriculum,
  2. development of employer guidelines,
  3. engagement of fishermen participants as employers, and
  4. integration of all elements of the program with the State’s apprenticeship standards and legal codes.

Project team: T.S. Talley, C. Culver- CASG-SIO-UCSD; P. Halmay-San Diego Commercial Fisherman; C. Miller, J. Betts- Santa Barbara Commercial Fishermen; S. Schroeter- UCSB; G. Miller, S. Spann-UC Extension; M. Robinson, M. Paddack- Santa Barbara City College; L. Ornelas, G. Choe, D. Willkie, J. Young- Miramar Community College; L. Behnkin- Alaska Longline Fishermen's Association; V. Rodriguez-CA Dept Apprenticeship Standards. Funding: NFWF

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