One Hook At A Time: A History

Crew of Alma at Fishermen's Terminal, Seattle © ca. 1940, courtesy of Jim Bergquist and Deep Sea Fishermen's Union
Crew of Alma at Fishermen’s Terminal, Seattle © ca. 1940, courtesy of Jim Bergquist and Deep Sea Fishermen’s Union of the Pacific. From Left to right: Johnny Tveit, Eric Ericksen, Ralph Ericksen, Art Clavel, Jack Ward and Jon Jorgensen.

Last year, The Deep Sea Fishermen’s Union, a first time applicant, was awarded funding through 4Culture’s Heritage Projects program to publish a history of the union and commercial fishing in the Pacific Northwest. One Hook at a Time, written by Jeff Kahrs and edited by members of the union, brings this captivating and often dangerous history to life, with never-before-seen images and personal stories. Here, President Jan Standaert give us some insight into the Union’s motivation behind the project:

The history of commercial fishing in the Pacific Northwest is a critical cog in the history of the Pacific Northwest, and the Deep Sea Fishermen’s Union has been motivated from the start by its desire to tell about the important role fishing—particularly hook and line fishing—has played and continues to play in the history of King County. Though King County has been enriched by companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Adobe, Getty Images, and so many more, the fishing industry is still a multi-billion dollar industry in the county. The important role these more traditional industries play should not be forgotten. Our project was created to draw attention to the life of fishermen and the important part our Union has played in developing this fishery and ensuring a decent wage for working people.

So it is no surprise when someone wanders into the Union wondering what their father or grandfather did. They may now work at Microsoft, but many local people trace their family back through photographs and family stories to our history. It was one of the reasons we wanted to put the book together and why we’ve worked so hard on our outreach. It is only by telling our story to the public that they can understand how the hard work of fishermen becomes the fish they buy at local grocery stores and markets.

The book is available for purchase at the Union’s offices in Ballard (be sure to call ahead) and for free through the Seattle Public Library. For more information on the Heritage Projects program, click here.