John on  Press Herald Post


My wife has a rule in our house – no talking about fish or boats after 6pm.

Good luck, honey.  Most evenings that prohibition lasts until about 6:20 and then, somehow, the conversation wanders back onto the latest boat project, or fishing, or fishery management, or some esoteric related subject.  Poor woman – she’s been listening to this for 30 years.

I remember when she first raised this defense.  We were living in Juneau, Alaska.  We were sharing a camp with another young couple, on a small lake north of town.  Mendenhall Glacier was a grand background.  Salmon berries and alders crowded the shoreline, the fir trees hung heavily with moss, and the stream behind the house running down to Auke Bay ran so thick with sockeye sometimes it seemed more fish than water.

My buddy and I had a fishing vessel repair business.  We’d spend our days replacing rotten wood with fiberglass, or repairing nets, or out on the boats during the salmon openings.  Of course when we did show up for dinner, the topic of immediate importance would be – fish.  Most specifically – salmon.

So our wives ganged up on us.  No talking about fish, or boats, until we’d socialized with them a bit.  About twenty minutes, give or take.

Eventually, Peggy and I came home to Maine.  I started fishing out of Kittery.  I became enmeshed in fishery management and was eventually appointed to the New England Fishery Management Council, on which I served for nine years.  I represented industry in conservation planning for fisheries and marine mammals.  I began working with the National Marine Sanctuary system and chaired the Stellwagen Bank Sanctuary’s advisory council.

As my understanding evolved, I gravitated toward environmental advocacy and the health of our oceans.

Now, here I am 30 years later, just as obsessed with fish, where they live, how we value them, and how we value and protect our oceans.  I care deeply about the Gulf of Maine and living marine resources.  And I’m still talking about fish.

And my wife is still patiently listening, God bless her.