Talk of the Villages: Fishermen, Fish, Food and Livelihood




Day at the Docks kicks off with a new event, “Talk of the Villages: Fishermen, Fish, Food and Livelihood,” a free public forum.
The forum will revolve around the question, “Are healthy fish stocks and healthy fishing communities mutually exclusive?”
Panelists from Massachusetts, Louisiana, Texas and Oregon and Alaska will talk about the major threats to the marine environment and to family-owned and family-operated fishing businesses in their home ports and how communities have coped with these threats.
They bring talents and stories that will appeal to a wide audience and we encourage you to attend even if you are not directly involved with the fishing industry.  You will have the opportunity to speak individually to the participants after the forum.


“Let’s Talk About Fish and Fishermen” on Thursday, September 13, that will kick off Day at the Docks 2012. The forum will run from 4 pm to 6 pm on the grounds of the Seaside Inn in Hatteras village.

The forum will revolve around the question, “Are healthy fish stocks and healthy fishing communities mutually exclusive?”

Panelists from Massachusetts, Louisiana, Texas, and Oregon will talk about the major threats to the marine environment and to family-owned and family-operated fishing businesses in their homeports and how communities have coped with those threats.

Fish House Opera co-authors Dr. Barbara Garrity-Blake of Gloucester, NC and Susan West of Buxton, NC will moderate the forum. Cultural anthropologist and former NC Marine Fisheries Commissioner Garrity-Blake is a consultant and researcher with Raising the Story Works. She plays in a Cajun Zydeco band and helps organize the annual Mardi Gras festival in Gloucester. West is a correspondent for National Fisherman and served on the NC Joint Legislative Commission on Seafood and Aquaculture from 2003 until 2011. West’s husband Rob is a commercial fisherman and fishes their Buxton-built boat, the Lucy B., out of Hatteras village.

The panelists are:

  • Dave Densmore, a commercial fisherman and a poet, spent his childhood moving between the Aleutians and Kodiak, Alaska and owned a skiff and outboard by the time he was ten. He has gillnetted on the Columbia River, king crabbed out of Dutch Harbor and Unalaska, and trolled for salmon off the Pacific Coast. He and his crew once spent four nights in a life raft adrift in the Bering Sea after their king crab boat caught fire and burned. He currently lives in Astoria, Oregon where he participates in the annual FishersPoets Gathering, but continues to fish summers out of Larsen Bay, a village on Kodiak Island. Densmore says his poetry is about life as observed from a commercial fisherman’s perspective.
  • Diane Wilson is a fourth generation shrimper, mother of five, author, and an environmental, peace and social justice advocate from Seadrift, Texas. She began fishing the bays off the Gulf Coast of Texas at the age of eight. By twenty-four, she was a boat captain. In 1989, while running her brother’s fish house at the docks and mending nets, she read a newspaper article that listed her home of Calhoun County as the number one toxic polluter in the country. She set up a meeting in the town hall to discuss what the chemical plants were doing to the bays and thus began her life as an environmental activist. Threatened by thugs and despised by her neighbors, Diane insisted the truth be told and that Formosa Plastics stop dumping toxins into the bay. She launched legislative campaigns, demonstrations, hunger strikes, sunk boats, and even climbed chemical towers in her fight to protect her Gulf Coast bay. She recounted that dramatic struggle in An Unreasonable Woman: A true Story of Shrimpers, Politicos, Polluters, and the Fight for Seadrift, Texas, published by Chelsea Green Publishing Company in 2005. She was featured as one of twelve local heroes profiled in Your America on PBS.
  • Niaz Dorry is coordinating director of the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, an organization dedicated to restoring and enhancing a marine system capable of supporting healthy, diverse and abundant marine life and human uses. She & her dog, Hailey, live in Gloucester, Massachusetts – the oldest settled fishing port in the U.S. Her dog Hailey is one of the lucky dogs who survived Hurricane Katrina and is Niaz’ daily reminder of all the fishing communities that are yet to be rebuilt since the Indian Ocean tsunami and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and other disasters. Dorry began working with small-scale, traditional, and indigenous fishing communities as a Greenpeace oceans and fisheries campaigner, and then continued that work independently. Time magazine named Dorry a “Hero For The Planet” for her work. She serves on the executive committees of the National Family Farm Coalition and Granite State Fish, and is as an advisor to the Harvard Medical School’s Center for Health and Global Environment.
  • Robert Fritchey considers any day not spent outdoors to be a waste. Born in Pennsylvania, he completed his masters’ degree in Tropical Medicine and Medical Parasitology at LSU Medical Center in New Orleans in 1978. Apparently born to fish, he traded microscopes for nets to become a commercial fisherman in South Louisiana’s fertile coastal marshes. A passion for netting redfish from a souped-up “mudboat” led him into the 1980s controversies over that species. South Louisiana’s coastal fishermen had been netting redfish for the markets and restaurants in New Orleans for well over a century when some of the nation’s wealthiest sportsmen began to regard this publicly owned resource as their own. As they pressured the state’s government to deny traditional fishermen and seafood consumers access to wild-caught red drum, the covetous sportsmen cynically portrayed the rural netters as “greedy,” and themselves as “conservationists.” Frustrated with media coverage of the issue, he wrote and published Wetland Riders in 1994, to directly inform the public that its access to seafood was threatened. Put out of business by Louisiana’s 1995 legislative net ban, Robert had nothing better to do than start work on a sequel, Gulf Wars: Southern Sportsmen on the March. Gulf Wars is a detailed history of the net-ban battles that came in the wake of the most expensive and elaborate “environmental education” campaign in the nation’s history.

For more information on Day at the Docks, please visit their website.