The restored Bristol Bay fishing sailboat Libby 76 arrived in Newhalen, a village midway on Lake Iliamna, as news came of the record-setting sockeye salmon harvest.
As the historic double-ender sailed into Newhalen, the crew learned that the commercial fleet is now on limits in western Bristol Bay due to record number of sockeye salmon. Through July 9, the baywide harvest of sockeye salmon is now at 53.8 million sockeye salmon.
Back in the early 1900’s when the double-ender sailboats were the only type of fishing vessel allowed in Bristol Bay, the Alaska fishermen were given a lower limit than their out-of-state competitors. This did not set well with the local fleet and ultimately was one of many factors that led to local fishermen being more assertive, including pushing for the use of engines.
But today, locals were excited to see this historic sailboat sail into their village. After arriving in Pedro Bay, the crew of the Libby 76 took families out sailing on the double-ender so that they could share with hands on the same experience of their fathers and grandfathers.
The real treat was taking turns with kids at the rudder – steering the boat the same way their ancestors did. While the kids steered, their relatives shared hardship stories of when these historic boats once plied these productive waters.
All this confirms that the Libby 76 is providing a unique moment of living history at the same time the salmon shows the world what ultimate sustainability looks like.