It wasn’t too many months back that I was extolling the virtues of wooden boats. I must confess that I am also, apparently, distracted by shiny objects. In this case, aluminum fishboats.

We’ve been following welder Rob Smith’s career in fishboat building for many years now. And I’m happy to report that he’s building aluminum craft at his own shop, Velocity Marine & Fabrication, in Sedro-Woolley, Wash.

This story was first published in the May issue of National Fisherman. Subscribe today for digital and print access.

Smith’s crew is launching everything from skiffs up to 50-footers. This month’s Boatbuilding feature and cover story by Boats & Gear Editor Paul Molyneaux zooms in on the Velocity crew’s latest launches of a Dungeness crabber and Bristol Bay gillnetter. Check it out on page 24 of our May issue.

It’s springtime, and that means the summer salmon season is just around the corner. Columbia River fishermen have been looking around that corner for a long time. Marine Mammal Protection Act measures in place since 1972 have led to a thriving overpopulation of salmon-hungry sea lions along many once-healthy natal streams.

Congress passed the Endangered Salmon Predation Prevention Act in December, granting tribal rights for permits to remove sea lions in an effort to create “salmon safe zones.” Read the full feature from Associate Editor Samuel Hill on page 20.

I’ve been following the progress of the Pebble Mine project since 2006. It seems like hardly a month goes by that I’m not writing about it. And here we are again with a letter from Alaska legislators on page 5 and a news update on the draft environmental impact statement on page 15.

The public comment period — an arguably insufficient 90-day span — began on March 1. That means the window to offer comments on this massive project will close soon. I encourage anyone who fishes, loves wild salmon, or appreciates the fact that we still have truly wild, productive and unadulterated spaces left on this planet to review the documents and leave a comment at the Army Corps’ project site —

Pebble CEO Tom Collier claims this fight is a darling of environmental organizations and not a justifiable source of concern for the fishermen and families who rely on the wild resources of Bristol Bay.

“They choose Alaska,” Collier said, according to the Bellingham (Wash.) Herald, “primarily because they don’t have to suffer the backlash from the economic impact of the project being killed because no one gives a rat’s ass what happens in Alaska.”

Again, the Pebble proponents miss the point that the pushback is precisely because of the economic threat of losing healthy salmon returns in the decades after Pebble Corp. has come, extracted and gone. Who and what will be left in Bristol Bay after Their Precious has been shipped out of the state? I hope this question will go unanswered. 

Have you listened to this article via the audio player?

If so, send us your feedback around what we can do to improve this feature or further develop it. If not, check it out and let us know what you think via email or on social media.

Jessica Hathaway is the former editor in chief of National Fisherman.

Join the Conversation