Fisheries-related jobs still employ more Alaskans than any other sector and offer a rosy outlook for at least the next decade. Employers say one thing is lacking, however, when it comes to hiring the next generation of fish experts – education. That’s where a new two-year degree program in Fisheries Technology comes in.
Carol Swartz is director of the Kachemak Bay Campus, which is for the first time, signing up new students for the program. She says the Associate of Applied Science degree is designed for students interested in working in the seafood or hatchery industries, as well as potential scientists interested in working for Fish and Game, the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
"(There are) classes in finfish culture," said Swartz. "There are classes in the fisheries of Southcentral Alaska ... there's a class in fisheries oceanography, limnology, field methods and safety."
Most of the foundational classes, including math, chemistry and English, are already available at the Kachemak Bay Campus, while some of the more advanced courses, like finfish culture or Economics of Fish management, will be available online through a partnership with the University of Alaska Southeast, Sitka campus.
The program is also available at other coastal UA campuses, including Kodiak, Prince William Sound and Bristol Bay.
"The exciting part about this ... is it culminates with an internship, where people will be able to get placed with some of the local agencies and some of the potential employers ... to take what they've learned in the classroom and put it right to work," said Swartz.
Students also have the option of pursuing a four-year Fisheries Science degree through UAF in Fairbanks.
New to the Kachemak Bay Campus this fall will be classes on Oceanography and Fisheries of Southcentral Alaska. Grant funding from Icicle Seafoods has also allowed the school to hire an Outreach Specialist.
Swartz says financial aid is available for students interested in the Fisheries Technology degree and many of the classes will be scheduled so that high school students can take them, as well.
Registration is ongoing now at the Kachemak Bay Campus in Homer, with classes set to begin August 26th.