From July 1-10, 2014, Stowe and Nina Talbot, together with former Bellingham Mayor Tim Douglas, travelled to our Russian sister city, Nakhodka. Also on the trip were six former employees of the joint venture fishing enterprise, US-USSR Marine Resources Company.
Nakhodka is located in the Russian Far East on the coast of the Sea of Japan. Like Bellingham, Nakhodka is a beautiful seaside city with many commercial and trade ties to the water. It’s population is about 120,000. Sister city relations were formalized in 1989 by then mayors Tim Douglas and Victor Gnezdilov. Since then, many cultural and commercial exchanges have taken place between our cities including sailing exchanges, summer camp exchanges, library and art exchanges, police training exchanges, student exchanges, ecological exchanges, and many others.
The reasons for this trip were threefold: First, we celebrated the 25 year anniversary of the sister city relationship. Our American delegation was treated to several wonderful banquets and receptions. Current mayor Gennady Kolyadin personally met our group and hosted us in his office. Our sister city liaison, Irina Scherbina, spent the week making arrangements for us and accompanying our group.
Second, our group presented several slideshow talks about the history of the joint venture fishing company entitled “Marine Resources Company, 1976-2001”. This unique venture, the first joint Soviet-American company ever formed, was established by Bellingham businessman Jim Talbot together with the Soviet Ministry of Fisheries. Despite Cold War hostilities, this fishing venter prospered during the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, with Russian and American fisherman working side by side off the coasts of Alaska and Oregon. The Nakhodka public was invited to attend these presentation, along with many retired Russian fishermen who had worked the venture. The six Americans in our group had each lived in Nakhodka for two-year terms during the 70’s and 80’s representing the company’s operations here. Two of them had not been back to Nakhodka in over 30 years. Nakhodka newspapers and TV stations gave extensive coverage to our talks.
The Mayor of Nakhodka, Gennady Kolyadin, sends his best wishes to Bellingham, and hopes we can continue our successful sister city ties for at least another 25 years.