Salty Girl of the Month: Laura Miller, fisherman - artist - scientist

Since we launched Salty Girl Seafood, one of the first things that people say is how much they love the name. Often we are asked, what does it mean to be a Salty Girl?  

salty: of the sea, sailing or life at sea.

This is a series of blogs honoring some of our favorite Salty Girls--women whose lives and livelihoods revolve around all things ocean.

In this edition, we are honored to introduce you to Laura Miller. As kindred spirits living an ocean-centric life here in California, we love her passion for the sea and the fish in it. Laura Miller has this amazing and unique balance between rough and tumble seafarer and poetic and graceful artist.  

Growing up in Pacifica, CA, Laura has never lived out of earshot of the ocean. Her life of adventure began at an early age, traveling all summer with her family in their Chevy camper van. Memories of the ocean begin for Laura - as they do for so many of us - exploring local waters with her father at the helm. From a career in fiber arts, to conducting salmon spawning surveys with Fish and Wildlife, to purchasing and co-captaining the salmon troller F/V Animal Fair with her best friend, Laura is a woman after our own hearts who wears many hats - entrepreneur, scientist, artist, and ocean going gal.

SG: What do you love most about the ocean?

LM:  I have always lived near enough to the ocean that I can hear it when I sleep. I can smell, taste, and feel the salt in the air every morning when I look out to see what the ocean is doing that day, and every time it’s exciting, whether it’s beautifully calm or amazingly rough and dangerous. There is a constant and powerful pull to step outside and take it all in, to be present.

SG: Who first got you hooked on the sea?

LM: When I was little my Dad would take my brother and me out sport fishing on his Boston Whaler in Half Moon Bay and San Francisco Bay. It was a fast little boat, and we went out in fairly rough weather. My brother and I would sit on the cooler in front of the steering console and hold on, giggling and grinning ear to ear, while the little boat would fly off of the waves and then come crashing down over and over again. It was like the most exciting roller coaster ride in the park. My Dad was always so proud of us for holding it together, not getting seasick, while we caught and cleaned whatever we were after that day in the little wash well at the stern of the boat. Those days with my Dad are what made me feel comfortable working on my best friend’s (now business partner’s) sea urchin boat and eventually buying our salmon troller, the F/V Animal Fair.

SG: When you close your eyes and think about your favorite time on the water, what do you see?

LM: At the end of a long productive day of midsummer salmon fishing, the sun is setting and the cloud-filled sky is lit up with color. The ocean is calm and the sunset is reflecting off the water. We’re heading with speed towards a great and familiar anchorage. Dinner is in the works, and a good night’s sleep will follow.

SG: What does a healthy ocean look like to you?

LM: Diversity and Activity. It’s 5:00 am, and boats are streaming out of the harbor one after another. The salmon trollers are setting out their poles, the sport boats screaming past them despite the choppy conditions, avoiding the islands of kelp and wash rocks at the mouth of the bay. Birds are noisily working, diving on schools of baitfish they’ve found near the surface. The water is dark green and somewhat cloudy in color, indicating recent upwellings of food and nutrients from the deep canyons just offshore of our magnificent coastline. Whales are passing through the area, surfacing to breathe, sometimes leaping out of the water. Before long our deck is full of salmon from a good morning bite, the radio silent while the fishermen tend to their catch.

SG: If you could go fishing anywhere in the world, where would it be?

LM: We are so fortunate to have such an abundant variety of species in Northern California. The coastal forager or fisherman is easily occupied harvesting abalone, scallop, clam, squid, sea urchin, kelp, rockfish, salmon, sablefish, tuna, or crab. I’m pretty happy fishing right here at home, but I’ve always wanted to travel to the Mediterranean, mostly to eat rather than fish!

SG: What does being a Salty Girl mean to you?

Photo credit: Allan Droyan 

Photo credit: Allan Droyan 

LM: My work on the ocean has evolved into an opportunity to become a provider of fresh, healthy, high quality seafood to my community. It’s so satisfying to see our customer’s faces light up when they come to pick up their fish and to know that all of the work it took to get it to them is appreciated. When I run into them later in town, they’ll tell me about the wonderful meal they had with their family or friend who was visiting. I know that I mean a lot to them, they also mean a lot to me, and we support and respect each other.

Learn more about Laura's story here and stay tuned to be inspired for more women who find themselves at home in, on, under, and beside mother ocean.

Is there a Salty Girl in your life? Email us to share her story with us and nominate her as a monthly Salty Girl!