Gig Harbor ‘Crew School’ to teach commercial fishing skills

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After two lackluster years, the skippers of the Gig Harbor-based fleet are back after a successful salmon fishery in Alaska. Photo taken on Thursday September 16, 2021.

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Being part of a commercial fishing team requires training.

Mending nets, sailing and handling lines are part of the trade, among other skills.

Soon a class in Gig Harbor will teach them.

Longtime captain Gregg Lovrovich will help teach the new “crew school,” officially called the Purse Seine Crew Training Program.

“I look forward to sharing my commercial fishing experience with program participants and introducing a younger generation to purse seining,” Lovrovich said in a press release. “For me, well, I can’t imagine making a living any other way.”

The Gig Harbor BoatShop and Washington Sea Grant are launching the program, which begins April 11 and costs $100.

Lovrovich will teach the first four days of the program. Next, Washington Sea Grant instructors will spend two days on safety training. Marine Safety and Survival and Marine First Aid courses are part of the class.

The idea is to teach commercial fishing techniques and help captains find crew members. Students will receive a certificate at the end of the course and help in finding a gig.

Students will spend time on the water in South Puget Sound, at the Ancich Netshed in Gig Harbor, and in a classroom setting. They will learn how to set and haul nets and get a feel for what life is like as a crew member.

The focus will be on purse seiners. Those that fish in Alaska are up to 58 feet long and have a crew of around five. The season runs from mid-June to early September.

“…the duration of a given vessel’s participation varies within this time window,” the press release reads. “Crew members live on board for the entire season and often visit towns like Petersburg, Sitka or Kodiak to unload fish or stock up.”

They earn a percentage of the total catch.

After a few disappointing years, 2021 has been one of the best seasons for some time, the skippers told The Gateway last year.

The Anchorage Daily News reported that by the end of August, the Alaskan salmon harvest had “exceeded 201 million fish, well above the 190 million projected at the start of the season.”

“People say the wild salmon are disappearing, but that’s far from the truth,” Lovrovich told Gateway in September after his vessel returned to Gig Harbor for the season. “They really care about the climbs in Alaska – they make sure the fish survive and get back to the creeks.”

Call 253-857-9344 or visit gigharborboatshop.org for more information about the class.

Alexis Krell covers local, state and federal court cases affecting Pierce County. She began covering the courts in 2016. Prior to that, she wrote about crime and breaking news for almost four years as an overnight reporter for The News Tribune.

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