There is no one more courageous than the person who speaks with the courage of his convictions,” said author Susan Cain in “Quiet.” Coco Chanel said, “The most courageous act is to think for yourself. Aloud.” These qualities define the NF Highliner.
The tradition of naming annual Highliners began in 1975, and I am proud to carry the torch in a long line of NF editors. We all have endeavored to select representatives of the industry who speak their truths not only for themselves but for others, as well.
A Highliner is a career commercial fisherman but must be known also for their mode of giving back to the fishing industry, locally or globally. It is no easy task, and as such it deserves recognition.
Without a doubt, Bob Dooley of Half Moon Bay, Calif.; George Eliason of Sitka, Alaska; and Bruce Schactler of Kodiak, Alaska, represent the best the industry has to offer.
Each of these fishermen has used his voice to ensure a future for the industry far beyond his own berth.
Bob Dooley was 11 when he started salmon trolling out of Half Moon Bay, Calif., with his brother, John. They became lifelong fishing partners and pioneers in the Bering Sea pollock and whiting fisheries. The duo sold their last boat in May this year, shortly before John’s passing. A founding member of United Catcher Boats in 1994, Dooley led the organization for 15 years and continues active leadership in retirement.
George Eliason was born and raised in Sitka’s fishing community. He’s been earning his keep as a commercial fisherman for more than 50 years, active in the Fishery Conservation Network and more recently as an advocate helping aspiring young fishermen gain access to the industry. His children working in the industry have inspired his dedication to helping future fishermen get their boots on deck.
Bruce Schactler runs his limit seiner Natalia out of Kodiak for the summer salmon season. But he doesn’t let the dust settle on the docks before he’s wheels up, traveling to the Lower 48 and overseas to represent the Global Food Aid Program for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute or championing legislation to keep the fishing and seafood industries relevant in a changing global economy.