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Economics & Social Sciences Research Program

Study to Gather the Oral History of Oregon Residents in Alaska's Historical Commercial Fishing Boom Times

National Standard Eight of the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act states that "conservation and management measures shall, consistent with the conservation requirements of this Act (including the prevention of overfishing rebuilding of overfished stocks), take into account the importance of fishery resources to fishing communities in order to (A) provide for the sustained participation of such communities, and (B) to the extent practicable, minimize adverse economic impacts on such communities." In order to meet the requirements of National Standard Eight, it is important that we understand the past participation of communities to "provide for the sustained participation" of these communities. Our study will focus on those in the harvest sector including boat owners, captains, and crew members.

The study will gather oral histories of Oregon fishermen who began their fishing careers in Alaska during the commercial fishing boom of the 1980s. Recent field work from Oregon State University in Oregon fishing communities revealed that many current Oregon commercial fishermen got their start fishing in Alaska during the boom days of the 1980s. These fishermen in many cases were able to purchase their fishing vessels using the money earned fishing in Alaska. Many of these Oregon fishermen are now nearing retirement age and have spent the bulk of their fishing careers fishing locally in Oregon, but some are still involved seasonally in Alaska fishing.

This project will collect oral histories from these fishermen to 1) document this important time in Alaska fishing history and document Oregon residents' involvement in this historic multiregional connection; and 2) examine the social linkages between the Northwest and North Pacific fisheries to analyze the extent to which the North Pacific fisheries provided a means for West Coast commercial fishermen to enter the fishing industry in both the past and present.

Unstructured interviews will be conducted in Newport, Oregon, and other Oregon communities suggested by contacts and participants. The interview phase of this project will begin in April and will continue throughout the summer. This project is supported by the NOAA Preserve America Initiative, part of Preserve America, a federal initiative aimed at preserving, protecting, and promoting our nation's rich heritage. This project is also supported by NMFS.

By Christina Package

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