Squalicum Harbor in Bellingham is well-known as a prime location for recreational boaters to access the San Juan Islands and some of the best cruising grounds in the world. But the harbor is also recognized as homeport to an active commercial fishing fleet of approximately 100 vessels which travel up and down the west coast each year with tremendous benefit to the regional economy.
A new set of interpretive signs draws attention to how Squalicum Harbor’s commercial fishing fleet interacts with the Salish Sea and distant waters beyond, and helps define Whatcom County as a true maritime community.
The Port, in collaboration with the Working Waterfront Coalition and Dave Hansen Memorial Fund, has installed seven signs along the Squalicum Harbor promenade providing answers to frequently asked questions such as “what type of fishing boat is that?”, “what do they catch?” and “what islands am I looking at across Bellingham Bay?”
“Whatcom County has a thriving working waterfront,” said Port Commissioner Bobby Briscoe. “The new interpretive signs showcase the importance of the fishing industry to Whatcom County and provide educational value about how and where seafood is harvested.”
For visitors standing on the Squalicum Harbor promenade looking out towards the commercial fishing feet, the new interpretive signs identify boats such as a gillnetter, purse seiner, crabber, long liner and salmon troller. The signs also detail differences in fishing methods with beautiful watercolor maps to illustrate how local fishermen travel thousands of miles to catch seafood for markets across the globe.
“These spectacular signs are a fitting tribute to Dave Hansen, local fisherman and fierce advocate for sustainable seafood, whose life modeled cooperation and mutual respect,” said Working Waterfront Coalition Vice President Jim Kyle. “Dave was also a part owner of Lummi Island Wild and a founding member of the Working Waterfront Coalition.”
Three signs are located next to Fisherman’s Memorial in Zuanich Point Park, and the rest are located just north next to Gate 5 where 100 slips are reserved for the commercial fishing fleet.
A public unveiling ceremony will take place at 5:30 p.m., Thurs. Nov. 1, at Fishermen’s Memorial Statue in Zuanich Pt. Park. The ceremony will be followed by a Blue Drinks gathering, sponsored by the Working Waterfront Coalition, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. at Chuckanut Brewery on Holly St. in Bellingham.
The 2.5 mile paved promenade around Squalicum Harbor is one of Whatcom County’s most popular trails. Next year, the Port is planning to work with the Lummi Nation to develop an interpretive sign highlighting their connection with the Salish Sea and fishing.
The Port is also planning to install similar interpretive signs at Blaine Harbor in 2019.
Marine trades industries operating on Port property generate over $122 million in direct income and provide over $18 million in taxes each year. Over 6,000 jobs are created or supported by the marine trades representing 7% of Whatcom County’s total workforce.