When the economy began ailing, Bill Osburn went fishing. Literally.
Only seven years ago, Bill worked at an electric automotive shop on 17thand McLoughlin. “When the economy started slumping, my job just kind of went away. I went from 40 hours of work to 20 to 10 to 8.” Eventually he abandoned his work and transitioned to a seemingly unlikely career as a commercial fisherman. But really, he was just getting in touch with his roots.
Bill’s aunt and uncle were fishermen, and his gravitation to fishing seemed almost primordial. “My fascination with fishing was like a moth to the flame.”
And while his transition to the sea was one powered by passion, it was paved with rough-hewn stones. “It maybe wasn’t the best job choice because we had a lot of bad years. Four out of the last six years were declared as a state of emergency for salmon fishing. The fish just weren’t showing up. Nobody’s exactly sure why.”
In true entrepreneurial spirit, Bill pushed on. He started off as a commercial fisherman and soon transitioned to become one of the top purveyors of locally caught seafood, selling to restaurants as well as direct to consumers at local farmers markets.
Stonewall Banks only sells local seafood, and the variety changes with the current catch. The selection at a recent market included True Cod, Ling Cod, Petrale Sole, Rockfish, King Salmon, shrimp, and Dungeness crab.
His stint at sea engendered a deep respect for fishermen’s well-being, and his business strives to promote local fishermen and keep their wages decent. “These guys are risking their lives for this stuff. There’s a TV show about the deadliest catch in Alaska but statistically speaking, crab and salmon fishing off the Oregon coast is more dangerous. It doesn’t matter how much money you have, the ocean will take you if it wants you.” Despite these dangers, Bill still loves to go fishing.
Stonewall Banks Seafood is at the Moreland Farmers Market all summer and can also be found at the PSU market.