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Cook Inlet setnetter looks back on four decades of fishing

Setnetting is in CIAA board member Page Herring's blood, and so is helping people develop strong communities

by | July 27, 2022

Cook Inlet setnetter Page Herring
Page Herring is a longtime setnetter and commercial fishing advocate.

“Taking care of people and taking care of fish are two of my favorite things to do!” says setnetter Page Herring. These motivations are what make Page a valued member of the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association board of directors. She is in her 10th year as a board member representing the Northern District Set Netters of Cook Inlet, which is also called Northern District Setnetters Association or NDSA. 

Page grew up in Anchorage. Her father, Lebron, was a U.S. customs agent and her mother, Pansy, performed marketing research for Carr-Gottstein. She later worked with the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of Alaska Anchorage. 

“My parents wanted to have a family business and bought into the Northern District setnet fishery,” Page said. The Northern District is the upper half of the Upper Cook Inlet Management Area, encompassing both sides of Cook Inlet from north of Kenai to Knik Arm. Upper Cook Inlet fishermen must contend with large tides as well as fisheries management decisions that have restricted harvesting opportunities. 

A long history of setnetting

Page started fishing in 1979 as a setnetter, drifted the Kuskokwim in the early 1990s, and talked her husband, Bob Cellers, into drifting the Copper River Flats in 2000. “I would split the season between Cook Inlet setnetting as permit holder and Copper River drifting as a crewmember.” Her two daughters, Rainy and Mckenzie, grew up fishing with her. “I am the last family member still actively fishing,” said Page.  

During the winters, Page kept busy as a midwife along with working for various tribal organizations on fishery policies. In 2007, she took a trip to Tibet and traveled for six weeks with a medical team. Page taught prenatal care and labor and delivery skills to Buddhist nuns and traditional midwives. “That inspired me to take my education further and return to places in Alaska that nurtured me.” 

A new beginning

In 2010, Page and Bob sold their Cordova home and left Copper River fishing after Page was accepted into the MEDEX Northwest Physician Assistant program. She also retired from her 30-year midwife career to pursue this new opportunity. In 2013, Page graduated as a Physician Associate (PA-C) and currently practices in rural Alaska to medically-underserved populations. 

“I specialize in primary care/urgent care/emergent care in rural, remote settings. I feel like a caribou sometimes since I have wandered this state so much checking out all the small corners and meeting so many people. My natural curiosity about people and desire to help folks is why I went into medicine.” Currently, Page is working in Larsen Bay on Kodiak Island.

Never misses a meeting

Page is equally committed to fisheries policy issues, representing NDSA on a number of issues such as the Mixed Stock Policy, Kenai River fisheries management, and Kodiak fisheries management. She has not missed a Board of Fisheries (BOF) meeting since 1984. Considering that BOF meetings are multi-day events, mostly held in Anchorage, it is a testimony to her dedication to sustainable fisheries that she makes the time to attend these meetings. 

When Page is not traveling as a PA-C or participating in fisheries meetings, she calls Homer home. She and Bob enjoy raising honeybees there. 

Community involvement

In giving back to the community, Page created a program called “Silvers for Seniors.” Every August she coordinates a donation of coho salmon from setnetters to the Mat-Su Senior Services for the Meals on Wheels program. 

Page truly loves Cook Inlet and fishing in Cook Inlet, and this is why she joined the CIAA board of directors. She also serves on CIAA’s Public Relations Committee, helping to guide CIAA’s outreach and education efforts. “CIAA has done an amazing job over the years in keeping the industry viable, educating the public, and being proactive on the environmental threats to fish and fish habitat.”

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Page’s profile was featured in our most recent newsletter. For more recent news about CIAA’s operations and special projects, read the latest issue of Smolts

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