The Russians made it to Homer this year!


As part of an Open World Leadership Center program the Rotary Club of Homer-Kachemak Bay hosted a delegation of Russian Commercial Fishing Executives in Homer, AK from May 17-21, 2019. The delegation consisted of five business professionals and entrepreneurs, a bicultural facilitator, an interpreter, and the Rotary International Open World Liaison. While in Homer the Open World program participants were hosted by members of the Rotary Club of Homer-Kachemak Bay. On May 21, following their visit to Homer, the delegation traveled to Anchorage, AK until their return home on May 25. While in Anchorage they were hosted by the Rotary Club of Anchorage International.


The theme for the visit was Regional Economic Development: Fisheries Sustainability and Tourism. As the “Halibut Fishing Capital of the World”, the Homer community was well placed to demonstrate the symbiotic relationship between a sustainable fishing industry and a successful tourist economy. While in Homer they met with Federal and State fisheries representatives to discuss sustainability procedures in Alaska’s and U.S contiguous waters. They had the opportunity to discuss the role the City of Homer plays in both areas with Mayor Ken Caster and City Manager Katie Koester. CAPT Bryan Hawkins, Port of Homer Director, conducted a tour of the City of Homer Fish Dock and Ice Plant, highlighting the key role they play in support of the fishing industry. This visit was complemented by a presentation from the Homer Chamber of Commerce which emphasized the fishing industry and tourism relationship.
With the background provided by the experts, the delegation was able to participate in hands-on experiences that emphasized both issues. They toured local vacation cabin and B&B facilities, discussed local fishing practices within the Russian Old Believer communities, visited an oyster farm, enjoyed tidepooling and exploring the west shore of the Kachemak Bay courtesy of the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies, and studied first-hand the growth and support of maritime trades in Homer and the critical role they play in the regional economy. As a tribute to entrepreneurship and tenacity existent in Alaska, they toured the resident Alaskan manufacturing enterprise, NOMAR.
The opportunity to exchange ideas and processes with members of the Russian commercial fishing industry was embraced by all American participants. Given the national level suspicion and cooling of relations between Russia and the United States, this visit proved that at the people to people level we share common goals and aspirations. Due to the many community connections made during the planning and execution of this visit, the role the Rotary Club of Homer-Kachemak Bay in providing Homer an international perspective on how it does business was widely respected.