On the Waterfront
By Jan Hrutfiord
The local commercial crab season is officially over until next October for non-Indian fishers. Treaty Indian crab fishers usually have several openings in September for crabbing. Sport fishers will have to check with the Washington department of fisheries or watch for announcements from them for crab opening (usually in mid July or early August).
There is not much commercial fishing going on right now out of Blaine, but boats are already going to Alaska for the salmon season, as well as those Bering Sea boats, which started fishing the 20th of January. It is not yet known what salmon fishing will be available in local waters this year. Commercial salmon fishing was closed this year for much of the California and Oregon coasts, to help preserve their local salmon runs, which have been badly hit from various problems in the rivers that they spawn in.
The Blessing of the Fleet will be held Sunday, May 4, 1:30 p.m. at the Blaine Boating Center (harbormaster’s office) in the meeting room. If you have not attended this ceremony before, it is worth going to. State and local officials will be in attendance to pay tribute to commercial fishers, a blessing will be given for those boats and fishers who are or will soon be fishing for salmon, bottom fish, and crab, and a wreath will be decorated with flowers to commemorate fishers who died at sea, as well as local fishers who are no longer with us. This wreath will then be taken out to sea by a local boat chosen to represent the fleet for this year. Music will be presented by the Blaine high school music department.
If you know of a local fisher who died at home or at sea this past year, let committee chairman Gary Dunster know. His phone number is 332-8090.
Following the ceremony, refreshments will be provided for all who are in attendance.
While you are at the harbor, take a look at the Seafarers’ Memorial building, which has a new blue metal roof, matching the harbor buildings. The building houses the plaque with the names of those local fishers who were lost at sea, going back over 100 years. The “Fishermen’s Table” from the former Harbor Cafe is installed on the wall of the memorial building. This table lists most of the commercial fishing boats and owners from about 20 years ago. It is amazing to see how many there were, and sad to see how few commercial boats are left fishing out of our harbor.
The life of fishermen has changed drastically over the last 20 years. Those who still are fishing are finding it harder and harder to be able to catch fish, both because there are more rules that close areas for fishing, and there are less and less fish available to catch. I certainly hope that there will always be some commercial fishers going out to sea from our harbor.
Did you have time to go to the Wings Over Water last Saturday? If not, there is still time to go on your own to see the ducks and geese that come here to winter over in Drayton Harbor and Birch Bay areas. We are certainly blessed to have such access to the many types of sea birds that live here in the late fall to spring months, before they go north again for the summer. Good places to see these birds are here in the Blaine Harbor, Marine Park, and the end of the Marine Drive dock, as well as along Drayton Harbor Road, Semiahmoo Spit, and along Birch Bay Drive. Take your binoculars and a good bird book with you to help identify the many different species of birds.