On the Waterfront
By Jan Hrutfiord
Christmas is fast approaching, the short days, winds, and cold are not the best for crab fishers. They are still going out one or two days a week to pick their pots. Not great results, but at least they�re fishing.
There are several Blaine boats and crews fishing for crab in the ocean off the Washington coast. The reports I�ve had are that fishing is pretty good, better than here in inland waters.
As of this writing, offshore draggers are sitting in the harbor, shut down for conservation purposes.
There were eight local dragger boats which sold their licenses in the federal buy-back.�These include: the Friendship, Dakota, Billy Jean, Carla R, Larkin, Marie Anne Gail, Milo, and Starlight.�As a condition of the buy-back, these boats may never fish again or participate in fishing-related activities. These boats may be used for other activities, such as tourist attractions/tour boats, live-aboard vessels, non-fishing related cargo carriers, etc. It is up to each owner to decide what to do with his boat, and if it is to be used or destroyed. It will be interesting to see what happens to these vessels in the near future. All fixed gear on each boat (i.e. winches, radar, wheel, net reel, etc.) must stay with the boat or never be used on another boat. Other gear, such as nets, which are not fixed on the boats, may be sold.
The Alaska draggers which have been fishing or�having repairs�out of Blaine will be headed back north by the first of January to be ready for opening of fishing January 20. These large steel boats have a very rough year, battling winter storms and ice, constant monitoring of the catch which shuts down fishing when quotas are met, keeping working on one type of fishing after another, most boats fishing until the end of October before ending the year�s fishing.
The Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea fishing are the most hazardous jobs in the nation. It takes a strong individual, who usually loves the adventure and danger of the open sea, to live the life and enjoy being called a Bering Sea fisherman.
Christmas decorations have been put up at the Harbor Cafe, Blaine Marina, the harbormaster�s office, and other businesses down here. Last Saturday, there was a parade of lighted, decorated boats from Blaine and Semiahmoo marinas. According to published�information, there will be a Christmas ship display of decorated White Rock and Blaine boats on Saturday, December 13. Watch for it, the boats are fun to see, and makes a good outing to see them parade by just after dark.
The Audubon Society will be conducting their Christmas bird count soon. Blaine is a very important bird area, especially for seabirds. I hope we get information on the count. Volunteers are usually welcomed for this count, contact the local Audubon Society which has a Bellingham chapter.
The Blaine fishing community has lost another of their long-time fishers. Ron Walsh died after a heart attack last month, and will leave behind many good friends as well as family. Ron�owned many gillnet boats, as well as the purse seiner Stanley, and fished out of Alaska and Puget Sound for many years.
He was also an expert shipwright, working at Alaska Packers, Bellingham Weldcraft and Westman Shipyard here in Blaine. He is survived by his wife Lois, two daughters Terry and Tammy, and three sons, Chris, Norm and Bob, all of whom fished with their dad in southeast Alaska. Norm and Chris follow in�their dad�s�footsteps working at Westman Shipyard. We are very sorry to see him go, he will be missed.
Have a happy and blessed holiday season. I�ll see you next year.