A new and well-conceived memorial to those lost at sea was recently dedicated close to my home in Northern California. The Commercial Fisherman Memorial is located at Spud Harbor in Bodega Bay, California. The statue pays tribute to the commercial fisherman lost at sea after sailing from Bodega Bay. These include those fishing for salmon, crab, abalone, and rockfish over the past two centuries. Names of lost fishermen will be added to the memorial beginning in April 2011 – and I suspect for many years to come.

The fishing industry is in dire straits around the world. The reasons are well known – overfishing, man-made and natural disasters, global climate change, and pollution. Fishermen work harder, longer, and take more risks for a continuing reduced reward. One can only hope that their fortunes change in the coming decades. Memorials such as the Bodega Bay Memorial and others around the world serve to remind us all of the sacrifices made for centuries by commercial fishermen.

If you’re near Bodega Bay, I encourage you to take the hike around Bodega Head. Placed on a cliff looking west towards the Pacific is another small memorial to the fishermen of Bodega Bay. Gazing at the Pacific from the memorial site is always a reminder of the risks taken every day by commercial fishermen. Walk down to the water’s edge from the memorial on a less than perfect day and the reality of what commercial fisherman face daily can begin to be appreciated.