Hook Line & Sisters

It’s not often that there’s a story in the mainstream media about seafood in which women are predominantly featured — unless it’s an article warning pregnant and nursing women of the so-called dangers of consuming certain fish species.

Which is why a recent story in Alaska Dispatch may have turned some heads. A new reality TV show on The Learning Channel (TLC) premiered in late December, featuring a fishing family that includes a mother and two 20-something daughters.

“Hook, Line & Sisters” provides a woman’s perspective on commercial salmon fishing. So will the program encourage more women to enter a male-dominated profession? 

“It’s interesting, because there’s two girls and that’s not typical,” said Julianne Curry, executive director of the Petersburg Vessel Owners Association and a salmon seiner and halibut longliner. “And to put one of those girls in the skiff in one of the most highly competitive fisheries in the industry is impressive. Sierra’s [one of the two daughters] knowledge and insight of how the fishery is managed was really encouraging — it was the most profound part of the show for me.

“There’s not a ridiculous amount of coverage for the fishing industry itself [in the mainstream media],” continued Curry. “Women, when it comes to the media, it seems, are a novelty. But this story is different, catchy and exciting. And everything these days is about getting the word out with something exciting or sexy or whatever the buzzword is for the day, so it will be interesting to see what happens. I think that more awareness for the commercial fishing industry itself is a good thing.”

Linda Behnken, president of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association and a longliner herself, told SeafoodSource that she isn’t sure if the show will inspire more women to get involved in the industry. But she thinks it will help women understand that commercial fishing is not only an option but also a great opportunity.

“I think it’s important that women feel it’s an option for them and that they have the confidence and the skills to participate,” said Behnken. “A lot of women aren’t prepared for it, they just don’t grow up learning the skills needed. I would like to see our culture prepare women better in that way with those sort of hands-on skills. It’s certainly a way of life that I love and has taught me a lot.”

Seven episodes of “Hook, Line & Sisters” are scheduled to run, with the last one airing on 2 February. The show features husband-and-wife team Dean and Susan Anderson and their two daughters, 26-year-old Sierra and 21-year-old Memry, who live in Breckenridge, Colo., in the offseason. The family seines for salmon in Southeast Alaska.

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