The Words of the Loew Family
God has a way of bringing people together at the right time and the right place for the right reasons. Halibut fishing began in just this way.
The place was Alaska and the time was September 1983, when Father went fishing with an Alaskan hunter- fisherman, a real pioneering type. This man helped Father learn how to fish for halibut, and the two of them became good friends. Father liked this man because of his honest and forthright nature borne out of long years of hard work in the Alaskan wilderness. To use Father's words, "I met my first true American today:' Heung Jin Nim was with Father at that time. This man liked Heung Jin Nim a lot. As a matter of fact, he told Father that if Heung Jin Nim ever wanted to work on a boat, he could use a hand. So I would say that halibut fishing in Alaska began with Father, Heung Jim Nim, and that tough old Alaskan pioneer.
Many people ask me what it is like to fish with Father. When I was young I used to go fishing with my dad, and I could tell you some funny stories about growing up with a father who wanted to teach his son to fish but could never catch any himself. I feel at ease with Father on a boat, relaxed, much as if I were fishing with my own dad. I think some people expect a miracle or an extraordinary event to happen when they are with Father, but I look forward to just having a good day of fishing with no engine problems and everyone safe.
Between tides, we would fish in the strong current, which was like a raging river at times. We would drift over one area time after time, where the large fish come through. "Zing!" Off would go a line and the fight would begin. Fighting and landing a halibut is much easier than fighting a tuna. The trick is to wear the fish down, and then stun him with a shot in the head. That's how you get yourself a fish. Anyone can catch a halibut, and that excites Father. That's why he encourages, even pushes, members to fish for halibut. When we had guests on the boat I would always make a point of helping them get a catch. You never know in the future what their children might think when they see a picture of their father or mother with True Parents, holding a fish that they caught in the cold waters of Alaska.
It would be naive to think that Alaska is just fish, bears, and wildlife and that everyone there is a naturalist. Alaska does have its problems. Being isolated from civilization is one of the hardest things to deal with. Life can be dull not being in contact with news, businesses, and large numbers of people. Because of the isolation, the value of human relationships becomes more important. Even going to Seattle, Washington, on a business trip is a real thrill simply because you can be in touch with civilization again.
Alaska has a drug and alcohol problem of major proportions. Just as alcohol exterminated many native tribes in mainland America, it is also taking its toll in Alaska. Once on the road to alcohol and drug abuse, few people are able to turn back, because it's one way they have of filling the void. With these problems comes the breakdown of the family; quite a few families dissolve quickly under such pressures. There is really no such thing as an "escape to the wilderness." People merely bring their good or bad qualities with them.
The biggest halibut was caught by Masako Whitemore on September 30, 1986-322 lbs.
However, some people come to Alaska because of their strong idealism; they don't like the way the world is and they want to create a new one. This is the true Alaskan pioneer. Perhaps these people most resemble the early Americans. I think it is this Alaskan spirit that Father really loves -- the desire for true freedom and the will to create something of value out of a wilderness. The church members who I think most resemble these early American pioneers are the sisters in Kodiak who work in the fish processing plant and the brothers who go out to sea fishing from the draggers.
These brothers have made their mark in Alaska. They're honest, they work hard, and they're very good at fishing. I think they risk daily much more than most other members. With a similar effort, the sisters work long and hard hours at the plant, processing the fish that not only our brothers but many other local fishermen catch. These sisters also support the plant in the off-season with their business sales. Our True Parents are very proud of these girls for what they have done. Perhaps Heavenly Father also feels the same, because the largest halibut caught in Alaska so far (322 lbs. in the summer of 1986) was landed not by Father but by one of those small but spirited Japanese sisters, Masako Whitemore.
I liked fishing with Heung Jin Nim most. He served people a lot and always helped out with the work that had to be done on the boat. He related to everyone so freely. You felt at ease with him and able to be yourself. Deep in his heart he knew how to be a great mediator, a representative of Father, more than anyone I have ever met. There were many people, like that Alaskan fisherman Father met, who responded to Heung Jin Nim with genuine feeling. That man was not a church member, and at that time he didn't have any concepts, either positive or negative, about Father or about Heung Jin Nim. He liked them both just for the kind of people they were. For me, this is a true testimony of Heung Jin Nim's spirit. There was nothing artificial about him; he was genuine through and through.
I remember one time when I was out with Father and Heung Jin Nim and we weren't catching any fish. After a while, Heung Jin Nim and I had an idea to go to a certain spot. At first Father didn't like the idea, but finally he agreed to a half-hour trial at that spot. Almost as soon as our lines went into the water we started catching fish. We had discovered a really good all-around spot where you could catch halibut, cod, and bass. We had a great time. I used to sometimes go to that spot after Heung Jin Nim went to the spirit world and think about him while fishing there.
Father helps Mother lift a halibut to show her how much it weighs. These fish were caught on a fishing trip in 1984. Left to right: Mr. Peter Kim; Mr. Joo Chan Chai, president of International Seafoods of Alaska; David Loew; and True Parents.
Halibut fishing will definitely expand in Alaska. We will develop many more programs in which members and guests can participate. A good foundation for training towards this or any other kind of fishing is Ocean Challenge. This program in Gloucester has been fully developed over the years, offering detailed and daily practice in not only learning to fish but in areas such as boat maintenance, engine mechanics, safe boat handling, and navigation at sea.
This practical knowledge is very important to have whenever and wherever you go out to sea. Alaska can be especially demanding if you aren't well-trained. Every captain and mate should have a good foundation before venturing out in Alaskan waters. Although fishing looks exciting, there are risks involved. Boats are not toys. Alaskan waters hold the record for fatal accidents. Knowledge of weather patterns, navigation, engines, and safety rules is a must. Fishing in Alaska can be fun, but it must be based on a solid foundation of practiced seamanship.
Members of the church and guests who participate in Ocean Church and Ocean Challenge programs should realize that the essential point of these programs is to provide everyone with solid training in the necessary skills. Those skills are both internal (spiritual) and external (technical). Showmanship is a cheap substitute for good seamanship. Rely on experienced captains and knowledgeable mechanics to guide and teach you. Then the results, the pictures of the fish you catch, the congratulations, and the celebrations are yours to keep forever.
Father examines the sea conditions.
In 1979, with the construction of a fish processing plant in Kodiak, International Seafoods of Alaska (ISA) was born. The plant was built to process salmon, crab, halibut, and bottom fish (cod and Pollock). During the summer season, salmon is purchased by ISA in various areas of Alaska and transported by boat and airplane to the facility, where it is cleaned and frozen. Most of the salmon is sold in Japan, and the rest is sold in the United States.
At this time, the facility processes over 5 million pounds of salmon a year. The plant also processes halibut, which is mostly sold in the United States. Occasionally crab is processed, but during the last several years in Alaska, crab fishing has been sharply limited in order to allow the depleted species, especially the king crab, to return to normal stock levels.
Presently Master Marine operates four vessels in Kodiak -- the Green Hope and the Ocean Hope I, II, and III, which go after bottom fish. The cod and Pollock are processed with automated machinery from Europe, then frozen and shipped to Seattle where the fish are distributed throughout the United States.
Recently, retail truck sales for cod and Pollock have become a priority for Happy World America -- a major buyer of ISA product. Without a doubt, direct retail sales of bottom fish by truck to homes is the most difficult area in the entire chain of fish sales; but one of the major purposes behind this drive is to encourage Americans to eat more fish. Seafood is much better for health than the large quantities of red meat most Americans presently eat. Changing America's eating habits is a difficult goal, and it will take a great deal of time and effort on the part of those selling the fish to effect a real change.
The Ocean Hope III docking at one of the ISA plants in Kodiak with a load of salmon for processing.