Giving thanks

I know I feel fortunate to have good friends and family, an awesome fiancĂ©e, a roof over my head, clothes on my back, a well-stocked kitchen and a great job. That I also own some sweet guitars and amplifiers is gravy (but I’m thankful that I have them).

I’m also thankful for the people who work in the commercial fishing industry. That point was reinforced after attending Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle last week.

You can’t help but feel good about the fishing industry after you go to PME. The CenturyLink Field Event Center was filled with visitors and exhibitors were busy every day, all day. That alone is energizing.

But wait, there’s more! We had the pleasure of holding our first ever Boats & Gear awards. We honored Oregon boatbuilder Fred Wahl for enhancing the design of the traditional 58-foot fishing boat to meet the needs of Dungeness crabbers, salmon harvesters and Bering Sea P-cod fishermen; the venerable wooden halibut schooner Tordenskjold, still fishing a century after she was launched; and CDC/NIOSH injury epidemiologist Jennifer Lincoln and her colleagues with the Commercial Fishing Safety Research Program in Anchorage, Alaska, for their dedication to fishing vessel safety. They’re worthy award winners, indeed.

You could (and should) say the same about our 2011 Highliner Award winners, whom we recognized at the Highliner dinner at the Palisade restaurant. Bill Webber Jr. of Cordova, Alaska, Larry Collins of San Francisco and Dan Falvey of Sitka, Alaska all possess passion, and innovative spirit and the willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty for the greater good of the industry.

But my favorite thing about the dinner is listening to past Highliner Award winners share their thoughts about their industry and the people in it. They welcomed the 2011 class into the fold, encouraged to see younger fishermen being honored. They truly want young people to have the same opportunities to fish that they’ve had and realize how crucial their participation is to the industry’s future.

Most importantly, they believe in this industry. For all the problems and obstacles fishermen face, they love fishing, love the fishing life.

There are many things I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving, and one of them is that I have the opportunity to be around fishermen like the NF Highliners. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

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