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Spotlight on Sarah O'Neill, Crew Boss

Crew boss Sarah O'Neill

Name: Sarah O’Neill

Job Title: Commercial Fishing Crew Boss

Fishing Location: Bristol Bay, Alaska in the Egegik District close to Big Creek

Total Years Fishing: 36

How She Got Started: Neal family bought the set net site in 1987 and started fishing in June of 1988.

Most memorable fishing story:
When we first started fishing, my brother and I were pulling our raft of fish into the shore and a huge wave caught the edge of the raft and tipped us and all our fish over and into the water. 

Last year, I heard the crew from the other net yelling “Bear, bear!” and we looked up as saw a big grizzly bear!  

What qualities does it take to be a commercial fisher: Not only do you have to be physically strong, but you need to be mentally strong.  Cooperation and getting along with others are also key. 

Favorite pastime when not fishing: Reading, quiet time, walking on the beach. Playing board games. 

Day job when not fishing: Elementary school teacher in Portland, Oregon for the past 27 years.

Describe Bristol Bay: Bristol Bay is surprising place even for Alaskans because it’s such a beautiful wide open space, tundra, huge sky, beautiful sunsets, big waves. 

Why should people eat sockeye salmon? People should eat Bristol Bay sockeye salmon because it’s wild salmon. Sustainably harvested, and caught with care!

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