FISH-WORK : The Archives
Photographs by Corey Arnold
Artist Statement
 
I have a love-hate relationship with commercial fishing. The work is often grueling and mundane, sometimes dangerous and soul crushingly repetitive. The days and weeks can be long, lonely, cold and painful. On the other hand, this act of manual labor, surrounded by the beauty and isolation of a vast sea wilderness, can inspire a sense of freedom, pride, and camaraderie unique to a life at sea. For fishermen, the reward is often found in the storytelling of triumph, survival and mysterious encounters with nature that we bring home to the civilized world. I’ve chosen to tell my story in photographs.
 
Fish-Work is an ongoing series that explores life aboard commercial fishing boats around the world. This selection includes work from my experience at sea aboard pollock and factory trawlers in the Bering Sea, a multi-month tour of European fisheries, images from my seven years working on the deck of the Bering Sea crabber F/V Rollo, and Graveyard Point, the seasonal salmon fishing community in Bristol Bay, Alaska, where I captain a skiff every summer.
 
While the photographs celebrate the lifestyle of fishermen, it is also my intention to bring awareness to the 21st century challenges facing coastal communities and oceans alike. The global fishing industry is in a period of rapid change. Serious threats to small-scale fishing communities include fleet consolidation due to catch shares, poorly managed fisheries abroad, ocean acidification, fish farming, and watershed destruction due to urban development, mining and pollution. Closest to home for me is the proposed Pebble Mine in the headwaters of Bristol Bay, Alaska. Backed by billions of dollars of foreign corporate investment, the Pebble Mine could be one of the largest open-pit copper mines in the world placed in the richest sockeye salmon watershed on earth.
 
Although it’s important to be aware of the challenges facing those who work at sea, the most essential message of all comes from the spirit of this way of life. Whether we are landlocked in the mountains, or out on a boat at sea, the hard work, passion, blood and guts of this profession speak to a vitality that I hope will inspire the viewer on his/her own personal journey.
  
Corey Arnold
February 2020