A good catch

Published 6:14 pm Saturday, December 27, 2008

By Staff
It is nice when an effort to save a piece of history, a historic building or a way of life accomplishes its goal.
The effort to save the lone remaining fish house on Ocracoke Island came a giant step closer to reaching its goal earlier this month when the Ocracoke Foundation, Inc., received a $407,710 check from Golden LEAF. The money, coming from Golden LEAF’s Community Assistance Initiative, will be used to renovate the fish house and provide it with new equipment.
The effort to save the fish house took a serious turn in 2006 when the Ocracoke Working Watermen’s Association began its campaign to keep the fish house open. The association recognized that Ocracoke is more than one of the best beaches in the nation and a resort for tourists.
The Hyde County barrier island is a place with a long history of providing commercial fisherman a place to make a living, a place where they are their own bosses. Without a fish house on the island, those commercial fishermen would have to travel much farther to unload their catches.
Saving the fish house is more than just about some Hyde County commercial fishermen making money and saving money by not having to travel far to sell their catches. It’s more about preserving maritime heritage and saving a way of life associated with Ocracoke Island since the first man walked its shores.
To borrow words from a previous editorial on the issue: “Fish houses are much more than a place to buy and sell fish. They are places where generations of watermen and their families have socialized, where seafaring stories — true and exaggerated — are told and where lessons in history, commerce and science can be learned among the spot, croaker, flounder, crabs and shrimp.”
The folks with the Ocracoke Foundation understand that.
At least one state official understands the importance of saving the fish house, too.
There is more good news.
Once the fish house is renovated and supplied with new equipment, it will need more employees. By increasing the fish house’s capacity to process fish, there is the potential for increasing income for more than 30 commercial fishermen and enhancing sales-tax revenue for the county, according to Golden LEAF.
Saving a way of life, increasing income for commercial fishermen and enhancing the county’s sales-tax revenue — sounds like Ocracoke Island, Hyde County and the commercial-fishing industry in the region have caught something worth keeping.