Celebrating Washington’s maritime legacy at Port of Seattle’s Fishermen’s Terminal

It was no surprise to us that when it came time to introduce Seattle’s first professional hockey team in many years, the franchise would harness the power of Seattle’s deepest roots — those of the our commercial fishing industry.

For 25 years, Fishermen’s Fall Festival has celebrated those roots and the return of Seattle’s fishing fleet back to Fishermen’s Terminal, located fittingly in Salmon Bay on the south side of Ballard Bridge.

Many people don’t realize that, even with the development of high-rise tech industry and residential towers, the commercial fishing industry still plays a significant role in the regional economy and ability to deliver seafood to the tables of residents across the state. Statewide, the Pacific Northwest’s commercial seafood industry puts 102, 476 to work in living-wage jobs and provides a $11.2 million boost in sales to the economy.

While the festival was cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Seattleites can still follow a walking tour and further their knowledge of Washington seafood with the help of festival organizers.

Image for post
Image for post
View of Fishermen’s Terminal. Photo courtesy of Port of Seattle.

On a self-led walking tour of important terminal sites you’ll catch a unique glimpse into the terminal’s maritime history, which dates back to 1912 when the Puget Sound Purse Seine Fishermen’s Association approached the Port of Seattle asking for a homeport for the local fishing fleet. The Terminal, dedicated in 1914, came to be the Port of Seattle’s first operational facility. Today, the port hosts 400 commercial fishing vessels and work boats, seafood restaurants, and a tavern, mailing center, barber shop, and mini mart. It’s also the site of the Seattle Fishermen’s Memorial, where 675 names are engraved, honoring commercial fishers who have lost their life out at sea.

“Seattleites are rightly proud of our seafood,” said State Representative Joe Fitzgibbon. “That comes right back to working waterfronts just like this one. This Seafood Month, Seattleites should take pride in this local cornerstone of Washington’s commercial fishing heritage and the role that Fishermen’s Terminal has in sustaining our regional economy and well-being.”

“Commercial fishing is a major contributor to our state’s economy, providing multi-millions of dollars every year and sustaining entire communities,” said Washington Sea Grant Director W Russell Callender. “Fishermen’s Terminal is critical to that fishing economy and it is just as important today to celebrate those contributions as it has been in year’s past. Taking a walking tour or visiting the docks raises the awareness of the Terminal’s critical role in maintaining this thriving industry in our state.”

The Port of Seattle and partners are also still helping consumers to celebrate local Washington seafood this Seafood Month with the promotion of Seafood 101. The effort celebrates families cooking, eating, and learning about Pacific Northwest seafood. More information about Seafood 101 is available at pacificnorthwestseafood101.com/.

“As someone born and raised here with a brother and son involved in decades of commercial fishing, it is imperative that we remember those taking the risks to provide the catch the rest of us rely on to eat,” said Port of Seattle Commission President Peter Steinbrueck. “This industry — the world’s biggest sustainable catch — provides billions in economic impact, employing thousands with family-wage jobs across the region.”

Image for post
Image for post
Photo of Pete Knutson. Courtesy of Washington Sea Grant.

Want to hear more stories of Fishermen’s Terminal? Visit this Washington Sea Grant blog post to meet Pete Knutson, a commercial fisher whose home port is in Seattle.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s strict science-based monitoring is integral to enjoying sustainable Washington Seafood year after year. We have dozens of sampling staff across the state that greet returning vessels as they report to terminals with their latest catches, where we collect catch and biological data, including length, weight, sex, maturity, and aging and other health indicators. Our enforcement officers further have their own small fleet of fast boats that they use to patrol our waters and gain compliance among commercial and recreational fishers alike.

Whether you like to fish yourself, or just enjoy eating local Washington seafood, consider a visit to the places rich with the state’s maritime history this Seafood Month. You can also find Washington seafood at local markets, or with the help of Local Catch, a network of supported fisheries and small-scale harvesters.

More information about when and where to buy locally sourced Washington seafood is available at wdfw.wa.gov/LocalWASeafood.

Written by

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is dedicated to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the state’s fish and wildlife resources.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store