Overfishing happens when fish are taken out of the water faster than they can reproduce to maintain their optimum population size. When fish stocks can no longer sustain a commercial fishery, fishermen have to find other jobs. The repercussions and the trickle-down effect - to both the marine food web and fishing communities - can be critical and severe.

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The Salmon Counters

The Salmon Counters

Photo by Douglas Gayeton

The Salmon Counters

Location: SITUK RIVER YAKUTAT, ALASKA
Featuring: ALEX & SHANNON, ALASKAN DEPARTMENT OF FISH & GAME

The Salmon Counters spend the summer months in the Alaskan wilderness counting, sampling and tagging salmon. This helps Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game monitor the viability of these anadromous fish populations as they return to their spawning grounds each year.

Season: 47,865 sockeye; 91,946 pink; 167 large, 73 medium, 52 small kings; (some chum + coho)

Shannon says if you enjoy isolation, it's an intriguing job for a fairly noble cause — ensuring the livelihood of the last great fishery on the planet.

A typical day:
1. Wake up
2. Check the weir’s structural integrity, clear debris, note # of fish waiting to pass through gate
3. Breakfast = bacon + eggs + pancakes + toast + juice.
4. Count fish
5. Radio check (daily 10 A.M.): fish numbers updated; important info shared, etc.
6. Read, write, study or practice.
7. Count fish or work on camp projects
8. Lunch (on their own)
9. Count fish and/or gather samples throughout as needed
10. Take a walk (if the day is slow or it’s sunny)
11. Dine (When it was Alex’s first turn to cook, Shannon asked what he planned to make. "How about macaroni and cheese?" Alex replied. Shannon did most of the cooking after that.)
12. Weir check + count fish if they’re moving
13. Play cards or read
14. Go to Sleep

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