In honor of it being Black History Month, we decided our first blog post should bring light to the often forgotten history of the fishing community. Fishing is a survival skill that has been a part of human nature for thousands of years, but it's not too often you see the representation of people of color at bill fishing tournaments across the US. Why is that?
First, let's talk about how Black Americans brought us some of our fishing traditions. When slaves were brought to America, they brought with them all of their cultural traditions and skills from their countries of origin. Many of them had diverse fishing and hunting skills that they had to use to survive the brutal slave conditions. Being brought to the south, many of the slaves would fish in creeks, rivers, and occasionally the Atlantic coast. They adapted to catching catfish, bass, and even crabs, shrimp, and crawfish.
As history continued and slavery was abolished, many former slaves turned to fishing as a source of income. Living on the water seemed like a reasonable way to make a living and in the early 1900s, most of the south's fishing community was Black.
Over the years a plethora of sources have caused a decline in commercial fishing overall, but there was a substantial effect on the Black community. Laws, racism, and income inequality took a big hit on the Black fishing community. Many fishers had to decide whether to remain in an industry that they couldn't make a living or take a chance and turn to a new career.
Fishing, in general, has become known as "the rich man's hobby" over the years and causes a decline in the inclusivity of the industry. Statistically, over 75% of fishers are white, yet the southern Atlantic still has the highest fishing participation rate to this day. Fishing has become too expensive and too difficult with the loss of fish from climate change.
Luckily there are amazing non-profits working to introduce fishing to low-income areas and to introduce more people of color to fishing. We hope at Freckled Finn's to put in the work to help make the fishing community as inclusive as possible and bring awareness to these issues. Everyone is always welcome on our boat!