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AMSEA – Teaching Safety, Saving Lives

Commercial fishing has always been at or near the top of the list of the most dangerous jobs in America. But after decades-long efforts from many organizations in and outside Alaska, as well as government safety requirements for vessels and mariners and a change in fishermen’s attitudes toward safety, the number of fatalities has been greatly reduced.

High among the groups helping to make fishing safer is the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association. Sitkans may be aware of AMSEA – its headquarters are in Sitka and have been for the past 30 plus years.

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Phil Long: No Room for Mistakes

When herring return to Sitka Sound each spring, so does watercolorist Phil Long. This year’s Harbor Guide cover image is from Long’s painting “Net to Tender” that depicts an action scene from the Sac Roe fishery.

Long lives in Sitka for four months of the year during the herring and salmon seasons to oversee the movement throughout Southeast of refrigerated shipping containers. The containers are destined to be packed with fish and shipped, mostly to Asia. The rest of the year, he lives in Oakland, California.

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Mike Mayo: Lucky Liner

If you see Sitka longliner Mike Mayo at the helm of F/V Coral Lee, you’re looking at a man of contradictions. Mike embodies the rough-and-rugged image of the Alaska fisherman, but he was initially trained as an accountant and didn’t wet a line, commercially, before his mid-20s.

He is a demanding captain, but is generous with those who work for him and in his adopted home port of Sitka, where he is well-known for his philanthropy. The head of a large family and a lover of life, Mike is quietly philosophical about his several close brushes with death. He can be alternately perceived as a hard-as-nails businessman, a holy man or Santa Claus.

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