Photo by Drew Farwell
Open Letter II: Commercial Fishing Woman, Kinsey Justa Explains AK Partying
Currently fishing pink salmon in Valdez, Alaska, Kinsey graciously took the time to answer these questions while on a break. As a woman fisherman, she’s had first-hand experience of what it’s like, and agreed to make our convo public, hoping it helps other PCFs out there, too.
*Disclaimer: Kinsey adds that Bristol Bay is a different fishery, which may differ from her experience in Valdez. I’ll do my best to find a Bristol Bay woman to explain their side. But for now…
Commercial Fishing Woman, Kinsey Justa Explains AK Partying
On a normal year without COVID, what’s the partying situation like before, during, and after the fishing season?
Partying really depends on your boat, and your friends when at port. For the most part, at the end of the season, many folks will get together to celebrate with a barbecue or going out to the bars. It’s a good time to swap stories from the season and say goodbye to new friends that you’ve made.
During fishing, I would say “partying” is minimal. Sure, people get together for a bonfire on the beach or maybe tie their boats up to eat dinner and watch a movie during a closed period, but keep in mind all crew are under the eyes of their captain, who is their boss at the end of the day.
For women worried about other women, is there a reason to worry more about Alaska than other places?
I would actually say that you can worry much less about women in Alaska than in other places. Men outnumber women about 3 to 1 here (in Cordova).
During a fishing season, if a guy is in contact with a woman, she is working. We work the same job that the men are. At the end of the day, we are tired, dirty, and want time to ourselves. Bottom line: women fishermen are fishermen and are there to work.
You mentioned having a good captain to keep people in check. What does that exactly mean?
Very few summer fisheries are in and out of port, so the crew lives on the boat, and the captain has eyes on everyone.
The captain is running a business and is responsible not only for his crew but his vessel, and the liability of injury on it. Any sort of drug or alcohol use can increase the likelihood of trouble aboard, so most captains frown upon anything more than a drink or two. Some boats are completely dry during active seasons for this reason.
Imagine the financial loss of valuable fishing time from losing a crew member for someone reason.
What could you add to calm worries of other PCF’s?
It’s about trust. If you trust your partner working in a regular office, you can trust them up here.
Respect your fellow women up here. Trust that they are just doing their jobs (in an industry that’s hard enough for women as it is).
We are away from our partners, too, so we get what it’s like to miss and to wonder. If you’re anxious about a female crewmate, reach out to them, and I can almost guarantee you will find your new best friend!🐟
Are you a commercial fisherman or partner of a commercial fisherman? Can you relate? Please share in the comments below!
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