Catherine Bursch |Homer
Commercial fisherman, Naturalist, Educator, Artist

Catie Bursch has the ability to bridge between government and commercial fishing, having spent 30 years as an owner of a commercial salmon fishing business; and through roles working for the Kachemak Bay Research Reserve (partnership between Alaska Department of Fish & Game and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA.)  

Bursch’s experience is further rounded out by her work coordinating community programs and leading pools of volunteers; developing and teaching classes on the marine environment; and illustrating and designing graphic layout for numerous small field guides and publications.

“I am very interested in new ways to approach repeating problems,” she explains.  “Nearly every major fishery in the industrialized world, and many in the developing world, are experiencing declining stocks and reduced catches. As I learn about the ocean’s resources and more specifically the history of salmon and people around the world, I am very frustrated by the reality that we are repeating the same patterns here in Alaska.”  

Bursch is excited by the Alaska Salmon Fellows opportunity as a rare situation bringing together a group of people all interested in embracing different ways of addressing societal challenges. “Usually people only feel safe bringing up challenging topics when they are around friends,” she explains. “Yet friends often have similar perspectives, so the conversation becomes a round robin of affirming those views. This frustrates me because we cannot grow without being challenged. However, it can be difficult to find groups of people to explore ideas with who are outside of my daily routine. Sometimes I purposefully go to a coffee shop in town that has a big round table where folks who want to visit congregate. I learn the most at that big round table.”