As providers of an essential service, commercial fishermen have been busy working to feed an increasingly concerned American public. We watched supply chains and meat-packing plants slow and close down across the country this spring and summer. Meanwhile, fishermen are working to keep wild, sustainable protein in the pipeline and on American plates.

While you make strides, as yet unassisted by the promised aid of the federal government, you are still being forced to bat away at global industries bent on taking over fishing grounds and contaminating wild fish habitat. The march toward offshore wind power and Pebble Mine has not slowed, even as fishermen have been taking every precaution necessary to ensure that your boats are running, your crews are healthy and your customers have food to eat.

A recent SalmonState survey of 800 Alaska fishermen revealed that 58 percent are worried about bad policy decisions being implemented while they are distracted by health and safety concerns of operating their essential businesses and services in the midst of a pandemic.

Nearly 70 percent of those respondents were also concerned about preventing the spread of covid-19 in Alaska’s remote coastal communities.

As we sent this issue off to the printer, the Bristol Bay fleet was descending on Naknek, King Salmon and Dillingham, provisioning boats, preparing crew and tuning up engines. You all are in our thoughts.

And with the Alaska fleet in mind, this issue incorporates our annual Pilothouse Guide. The tradition of printing West Coast and Alaska port resources began with the Alaska Fisherman’s Journal, which we incorporated into NF in 2006. I am proud to have helped continue that tradition since then, and I hope we can bring you many more.

Also in the tradition of the Journal, you’ll find Alaska fisherman Gig Decker’s feature on the wreck of the Star of Bengal, a turn-of-the-last-century salmon packer that met its fate on the rocks off Wrangell in Southeast Alaska. Decker has been fascinated by this story for years, and I’m very excited to bring his words and findings to this issue.

I am also delighted to have had the chance to review Emma Teal Laukitis and Claire Neaton’s new cookbook. You may know them as the Salmon Sisters, the Alaskans who turned XtraTufs into a fashion statement in the Lower 48, but there’s so much more to these commercial fishing siblings.

Flipping back to the East Coast, we have a feature on the Atlantic marine monument update, including a Top 10 for 2020 list of things the industry could use a little help with from the folks in Washington.

And of course, our Boats & Gear section is filled with everything you’ve come to expect from our passionate team of boat geeks — a boatbuilding profile on Aliotti Boats, what’s new in hook gear, and more products and boatyard updates, as always.

Thanks for showing up and doing all that you do every day.

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Jessica Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman. She has been covering the fishing industry for 14 years, serves on the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute's Communications Committee and is a National Fisheries Conservation Center board member.

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