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May 01 2014

A Few Fish Facts

600 pounds of Halibut, Petersburg, Alaska 1930s

600 pounds of Halibut, Petersburg, Alaska 1930s (Photo credit: born1945)

It’s common knowledge that both commercial and sport fishing are dominant factors in Alaska’s economy. Thirty years ago I worked for North Pacific Fishery Management Council, the federal agency tasked with managing fisheries within the 200 mile economic zone off the coast of Alaska, where I learned first-hand about the local, national and international importance of our fishery resources. And besides family fishing outings, a brother-in-law has operated a charter boat out of Seward for years. Originally just for fishing, it has expanded to sightseeing, hunting, and surfing – uh, no, I have not surfed in warm water, let alone the frigid arctic waters of Resurrection Bay. But apparently there are plenty of people who do, much to my surprise, and my brother-in-law was one of the first out there in the North Gulf Coast and continues today.   Since I will not try arctic water surfing, it’s no surprise I much prefer summer to winter, though I know there is value in both. What I like most… its warmer! I have never gotten into Alaska’s winter activities such as skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, or ice fishing – I do not like being cold. Now that I think about it, though, I am not active in Alaskan summer activities either, such as camping, fishing, hunting nor hiking. When I was young, my family went camping and fishing, but I did not learn enough to attempt it on my own in later years. I have neither the skill nor the funds to go on outdoor adventures, despite occasionally wishing I could experience it again. Interestingly, while researching for this article I discovered quite a bit of information on the Alaska Department of Fish & Game’s website (http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=education.main), including classes and programs teaching the community how to have successful, safe outdoor fun; some activities are free, others have a cost. Their calendar of events had a couple of things I might like to take my grandchildren to, such as Bear Awareness for Families and Potters Marsh Discovery Day. What I found most interesting though was the BOW program – Becoming an Outdoors-Woman; apparently an entire program especially designed for a clueless woman like me! Maybe it is time I purposefully look around for other outdoor educational opportunities I did not know existed.   For as long as I can remember I have purposefully striven not to be clueless about our Creator, who spoke our unique Alaska great outdoors into being. Such as the topic of fishing; just as it is important to Alaskans in several ways, it was also important to the people in Jesus’ time. Matthew 4:18-22 tells the story of Jesus walking along the Sea of Galilee where he called his first disciples, brothers Simon Peter and Andrew and the brothers James and John, all who were fishermen. He commissioned them by saying, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” The Bible records two separate instances where the Lord miraculously fed thousands of people with just a few loaves of bread and some small fish, because the people did not want him to stop teaching long enough for them to go into nearby villages for food. Reading these biblical accounts, it gives me pause to think, have I ever been so deep into His teaching I would not put down my Bible long enough to eat? Rather shamefully I say rarely if ever; rather once I realize I am hungry, my concentration is broken and I am rummaging around in the kitchen. I thought it humbling to note that Jesus did not forget the people needed physical sustenance even as he fed them spiritually. The Lord cares about our healthy well-being – spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally.   As you escape in to summer with camping, fishing, hunting or hiking, look at the outdoor beauty around you with the spiritual lens that it is God’s Creation, entrusted to us because he cares about our well-being. While entertaining yourself with the bounty our state is blessed with, thank him for his provision and generosity. With the prophet Hosea (6:3) “Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.”

Potter Marsh

Potter Marsh (Photo credit: Douglas Brown)

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2 comments

  1. Angela

    It’s funny, I grew up kind of hating the outdoors. There were bugs, slippery surfaces, tricky, bumpy paths and such that made being out there difficult or uncomfortable for me. It was only after discovering a love of birding and photography that I found my true love of being outdoors. It was a complete flip. Before, being outside was a source of anxiety, now, I can wander around for hours in complete peace.

    1. Rebecca J. Wetzler

      I regret the delay in responding. Yes, I am related to Chris, I will forward your request to get in touch to him. Thank you for checking out my website in the process of looking for them!

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