An honorable fisherman

If you’ve met Phil Ruhle Sr., you won’t forget him.

I was introduced to him in November, when he and his co-researchers were receiving the World Wildlife Fund Smart Gear award for the Eliminator trawl at the Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle.

Today, the beleaguered New England groundfish industry is suffering another blow. Ruhle’s boat, the Sea Breeze, capsized and sank in a storm off of New Jersey Wednesday night. Two crewmembers were rescued by the Coast Guard, but there is no sign of Phil.

Phil’s raspy voice and big blue eyes always conveyed the concerns of his fellow fishermen. He was passionate about fishing, his family and the future of the industry.

Our paths crossed several times in the last year, as he worked to promote the Eliminator trawl and have it approved by the New England council. He is an old-timer who remembered the glory days of fishing and has worked his hardest to get us back there.
I loved listening to him, because while he was fueled by frustration, he was determined to do whatever it took to make things right for the next generation.

It has been an honor to know you, Phil.

Bright summer goes, dark winter comes, —   
  We cannot rule the year;   
But long ere summer’s sun goes down,   
  On yonder sea we’ll steer.

From “A Ballad of Sir John Franklin,” by George Henry Boker

About the author

Jessica Hathaway

Jessica Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman.

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