We usually wrap up our Crew Shots issue right before we hit the Expo floor in Seattle, so we have the pleasure of seeing your faces in these pages and then watching the vitality of this industry flood the show floor for three days, a literal (or at least, not virtual) sea of humanity. There is just nothing else like it. While Expo Online did not come close to offering the same experience (nor was it designed to), I was overwhelmed by its success.
This year has been rough for everyone, but for fishermen especially — an industry that thrives on the brutality of natural forces — the task of staying engaged through flat-panel screens feels particularly cruel. The official color of 2020 (did you know every year gets its own color?) ought to be Screen Glow Blue. And yet, you all conspired to make it feel vibrant.
Our live Pebble Mine panel led to a flood of personal messages in the days after the video went live. (Yes, the trolls came out from under their YouTube bridges, too. But the fact that they would even pay attention to the talking heads at a virtual fishing trade show gives me confidence that we’re on the right track here.) The voices of the industry are calling out for what is right.
One of my favorites was from an NF Highliner out of a Southern state. He’s had the pleasure of fishing Bristol Bay a few times since attending Expo for the awards ceremony. The first time he came out to Alaska and learned about Pebble Mine, he thought the process should play out. He has since gotten to know the culture, fishery abundance and topography of the region, and his experience has changed his mind. He says the flawed process is a failure of Alaska’s congressional leadership and calls, like so many other fishermen who value healthy habitats for wild fish, for permanent protections in Bristol Bay. “You can’t reproduce it,” he writes. “Leave it alone.”
This issue is also an anniversary of sorts for me. Ten years ago, Jerry Fraser wrote his last editor’s log, handing the reins off to me. He was confident in my abilities then, certainly more than I was. It’s been a decade of intense education, a process I know will never come to a close. I feel incredibly lucky for this opportunity to take a turn at the helm of this historic ship and will be indebted forever to those of you who have patiently abided my incessant questions. Here’s to the next decade with friends old and new.