Love Letters to Maine | Hayley Brown

Dear Maine,

With your thousands of miles of coastline, it isn’t hard to come across a fishing community. Commercial fishing is a part of your history. More often than not, fishing is passed down from one generation to another. These people are some of the hardest workers and bravest people I have been lucky enough to know. They head out into the Atlantic in their boats, leaving family and loved ones onshore and risking everything to share with the world one of your most adored treasures: your seafood.

I am the proud daughter of a commercial fisherman. My entire life I never thought twice about what that actually entailed. This was just our way of life. I would ask my dad countless questions, and his knowledge of the ocean would astonish me. He would tell me stories of his days fishing in the Bering Sea, and as a child I grew to view him as a “super fisherman,” as if what he did was comparable to a superhero. I never let that feeling go. I have always been in awe of what he did, and I deeply regret never telling him how proud I am of what he did. My dad is proof of the risk these people take.

These brave individuals are strong. They are an incredible breed capable of adapting to an ever-changing industry—an industry that constantly faces many challenges. They are well educated on the fragile ecosystems and know when and where to cast their nets. They know the delicate balance of life and have an unparalleled respect for the ocean. The sustainability of this industry for future generations is a topic near and dear to their hearts, and they will stand up for themselves. They have taught me how to persevere.

Hayley Brown lives in Kennebunk. Her father, Joe Nickerson, and his crew member, Chris Pinkham, died in January 2020 when his fishing boat sank 45 miles out to sea off Portland.

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