We started in 1974 as the Kodiak Shrimp Trawlers Association.
Our organization was founded in 1974 as The Kodiak Shrimp Trawlers Association, Inc. to represent Kodiak-based trawl harvesters targeting shrimp. Shrimp harvest peaked in 1973 at 122 million pounds, but changing ocean conditions led to declines in shrimp stocks, and the last shrimp deliveries were made in 1986. The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976 extended U.S. jurisdiction out to 200 nautical miles creating an opportunity for domestic trawling businesses to target groundfish throughout the eighties. With the shift from shrimp to groundfish in the 1980s our organization was renamed The Alaska Draggers Association, Inc., and then became Alaska Whitefish Trawlers Association, Inc. in the mid-2000s.
We target groundfish and make Kodiak the #3 commercial fishing port in the nation.
Today AWTA members trawl for Alaska pollock, Pacific Ocean Perch & rockfish, Pacific cod, sablefish, flatfish, longline for halibut and sablefish, and tender for salmon. We are the reason Kodiak consistently ranks within the top five commercial fishing ports by volume in the nation according to NOAA’s Fisheries of the United States report. Kodiak trawlers are on the water 11 months a year and deliver 60-70% of all fish across Kodiak’s docks annually. Our year-round, high-volume operations support the largest resident fish processing workforce in Alaska.
Kodiak shore-based processors run on 99% renewable energy generated by the Kodiak Electric Association at the Terror Lake Hydroelectric site and wind turbines on Pillar Mountain. We are proud that our seafood products are sustainably harvested, and sustainably processed!
Our vessels are family owned, often with multiple generations and extended family participating in operations on deck or at the home-office. Most of our owners, skippers and crew live in Kodiak with their families.
Dedicated and Independent
Our members are dedicated and independent commercial fishermen. We operate year-round in all four seasons and all kinds of weather, from pollock in January to summer salmon tendering. Only catcher-vessels that are independently owned (i.e., not owned by a processor) can join the association. While our members definitely have an independent streak we value helping each other and future generations of trawlers.
Paul McCabe started trawling before he graduated from high school, beginning his career on the back decks of Joe Ham’s trawler. Paul put in the work over the years, and with Joe’s mentoring and support Paul is now skipper of Joe Ham’s boat, the F/V Nichole.
"Greying of the fleet is a concern to me. It’s hard to get younger employees, but over the years I have put a lot of effort into not only training younger employees to become successful fisherman but also leading them on the path to ownership."
-Joe Ham, Owner, F/V Nichole
“Fishing is a way of life for my family and I. I was given the opportunity to fish at 16 years old on the back deck of my (now) father-in-law's vessel and worked my way up to skippering the boat at 30 years old.”
-Paul McCabe, Skipper, F/V Nichole
The next generation of fishermen starting off on the back deck during summer tendering operations. Mild weather and school breaks make tendering the perfect opportunity for the whole family to get out on the boat.
Pictured: Hunter age 9, and Trapper age 7. Paul McCabe's sons tendering salmon in Valdez, Alaska
Commercial fishing represents an immense opportunity to
forge your own destiny
limited only by the amount of work you're willing to put in.
As Executive Director of Alaska Whitefish Trawlers Association Rebecca Skinner speaks for independently-owned trawl harvesters and works hard to ensure that small, family-owned commercial fishing business will continue to have a future in Alaska. Skinner was born and raised in Kodiak and is a committed advocate for the community, having served six years on the Kodiak Borough Assembly and four years on the Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference board of directors. Skinner is Vice President of United Fishermen of Alaska, a board member of Seafood Harvesters of America, and serves as Vice-chair of the Kodiak Aleutians Regional Advisory Council to the Federal Subsistence Board. She received a Bachelor of Arts from Dartmouth College, a Juris Doctor and Master of Studies in Environmental Law from Vermont Law School, and a Master of Business Administration from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.