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Local fishing leader, 58, dies
by Susan Chambers, The World Link, 5/29/07


CHARLESTON - The commercial salmon industry suffered another loss Monday - but one of a personal nature.

Fisherman and seafood buyer Scott Boley was found dead at his Gold Beach home Monday by his wife, Dixie.

Boley was a partner in the ownership of Fishermen Direct Seafood in Gold Beach. He bought, processed and sold locally caught fish and shellfish from the store in the cannery building at the harbor. He also trolled for salmon aboard the F/V Frances.

But his real contribution, friends and colleagues say, was his devotion to the industry.

“A lot of things happening now in our industry wouldn't be happening if it weren't for him,” fellow fisherman Paul Merz said Monday night.

Boley, 58, was one of those responsible for helping develop the Collaborative Research on Oregon Ocean Salmon, a project that tests the genetics of salmon to find from which river they originated. He promoted research into causes of disease in salmon stocks on the Klamath River. Boley has been at nearly all the state and federal meetings at which salmon seasons have been discussed. He did his share of politicking, too, to further ocean protections, seafood promotion or funding for salmon fishermen.

His ideas didn't always have support, but many of his peers discovered that time proved Boley's vision and ideas held more substance that they at first believed.

“He was capable of seeing the bigger picture,” Charleston troller Jeff Reeves said. “He was truly motivated; such a doer.

“He'd been through all this in the past,” Reeves said, referring to the current salmon season situation.

Boley's history in the industry as a salmon, tuna, groundfish and crab fisherman, plus his education and background in ocean engineering, made him an ideal candidate for many boards and commissions. He served on the federal Pacific Fishery Management Council in the early 1990s, the Port of Gold Beach for many years, currently on the Oregon Salmon Commission and on an assortment of nonprofit boards.


Education was always his goal.

When he, John Wilson and Jeff Werner went into business with Fishermen Direct Seafood about 10 years ago, Boley looked at it as not only a way to cut out the middleman, but a way to promote quality, healthy local products. He looked to the future, to build on that idea by elevating community crab feeds from just a get-together on an afternoon to a sharing with nonfisherfolk the culture, tradition and history of fishing - celebrating the fishing life.

Collaboration and building bridges seemed a natural fit for Boley, who grew up in Klamath Falls. He looked to increase communication between scientists and fishermen, chefs and fishermen, farmers and fishermen.

Boley was one of several South Coast trollers who opened a dialogue with Klamath Basin farmers last year, when the fishermen in northern California and southern Oregon were shut off from fishing commercially.

Many people, some involved in fishing, but mainly those unfamiliar with the intricacies of water management, pointed to the farming industry inland, blaming directly the farmers and government for redirecting water away from the Klamath River and causing the deaths of thousands of Chinook. Many industry leaders on both sides were tense, unsure whether to trust the other.

By early summer 2006, a couple fishermen made the tentative first contact - just a “Hello. How are you?” kind of outreach. The wave of goodwill swept through the fleet and by October, Boley was one of about a half-dozen fishermen sitting at a table in Merrill with local farmers during the Potato Festival and talking about the future.

“He was motivated to make life better for everyone in the fleet,” Merz said.

Jeff Werner, one of Boley's partners in the seafood business, echoed Merz' sentiments.

“It's a loss. It's going to be hard to fill,” Werner said. “Whether you agreed with him or not, he was a tireless advocate for this industry.”


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