Anonymous, #1

Location of Interview
Collection Name

Cumulative Effects in New Jersey Fisheries


The "Cumulative Effects and New Jersey Fisheries" Project was funded by the New Jersey Sea Grant College Program, New Jersey Marine Sciences Consortium. Dr. Bonnie McCay and Dr. Kevin St. Martin of Rutgers University were the principal investigators of this project and interviews were conducted primarily by Dr. Grant Murray (now at Vancouver Island University) and Mike Danko (New Jersey Sea Grant College Program, New Jersey Marine Sciences Consortium). These interviews had 2 principal goals: 1) to document the cumulative effects of regulatory change on the people, businesses and communities most directly dependent on New Jersey's fisheries; and 2) to create a history of New Jersey's commercial and recreational fisheries through the oral histories of people involved in them. Identifying information has been stripped from these interviews in order to preserve anonymity. Thanks to the 44 fish harvesters that participated in oral history interviews.

Date of Interview
Biographical Sketch

The interviewee is a seasoned participant in the fishing industry with a rich familial background in both fishing and farming. His roots trace back to Sweden, where he garnered initial experience in fishing before immigrating to the United States. Settling in Cape May, New Jersey, he witnessed and adapted to significant transformations within the industry, including the shift from wooden to steel vessels and the evolution of fishing techniques and gear. Throughout his career, he has observed the fluctuation of fish populations and has been actively involved in the community's response to these changes. His lineage continues to influence the industry, with his children also partaking in fishing. Despite the passage of time, he remains engaged in fishing activities, navigating the contemporary challenges posed by regulations and environmental concerns.

Scope and Content Note:
The interview provides a comprehensive overview of the interviewee's extensive experience in the fishing industry, focusing on the evolution of fishing practices, community dynamics, and regulatory impacts from the 1950s to the present. The interviewee recounts the transition from wooden to steel boats and the consequent changes in fishing techniques and gear. He reflects on the decline of certain fish populations, such as cod, whiting, and hake, and the industry's pivot towards squid and mackerel fishing. The interviewee also addresses the socio-economic shifts in Wildwood and Cape May, highlighting the influence of tourism and the influx of summer residents on the local community. The narrative delves into the interviewee's personal history, including his Swedish fishing background and his family's involvement in the industry. He shares insights on the physical and technological aspects of fishing, such as the use of radar and fish finders and the training required for navigation. The interviewee expresses concerns over the fairness and effectiveness of fishing regulations, advocating for individual quotas and critiquing the management of fish populations and ecosystem interactions. He recounts his participation in regulatory discussions, including a meeting in Wakefield, Massachusetts, regarding herring regulations. The interview also touches upon the conflicts between commercial and recreational fishermen, the environmental impact of fishing, and the challenges fishermen face in accessing fishing areas due to government policies. The interviewee's perspective offers a valuable account of the complexities and transformations within the fishing industry over several decades.

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