Anonymous #4

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 narrator was born in Norway and immigrated to the United States at the age of twelve. They initially settled in New Bedford, where they fished for nearly 20 years. In 1976, the narrator moved to Cape May and started operating an 88-foot 'eastern rig' vessel for scalloping. At that time, there were only 3 or 4 full-time scallopers in Cape May.  After a couple of years, they built their own boat and continued fishing out of Cape May until the early 1990s, approximately around 1991. Around 1991, the individual gradually moved away from fishing and transitioned into an ownership role, which they held until 1999. Besides their fishing career, they have also been involved in fisheries management. They served on the New Jersey council, indicating their commitment to the sustainable management of fisheries resources. Additionally, they regularly attend ASMFC (Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission) meetings, which further demonstrates their dedication to fisheries management and staying informed about relevant industry developments.

Scope and Content Note
During the interview, the narrator, a semi-retired commercial fisherman with extensive experience, discusses various topics related to the fishing industry and the changes they have witnessed over the years. The interviewee mentions an abundance of scallops, resulting in longer working hours for fishermen. Despite the high demand, the price of scallops is being maintained. According to the narrator, there haven't been significant changes in the types of businesses, such as supply shops and docks. They mention Lund's purchasing A&J, a commercial dock, and rebuilding it. Overall, the fishing docks in the area have remained the same. The interviewee explains that an ordinance was passed in Lower Township to prevent condo development in fishing and marina-related business areas, a decision they support due to negative impacts observed in other ports. They mention rising prices in Cape May, making it difficult for fishermen to afford homes, attributing it to condo conversions and changing demographics. The narrator acknowledges that while tourism is larger in scale, commercial fishing provides a year-round income and consistently brings fresh money into the economy. They discuss ongoing friction between commercial and recreational fishing. The interviewee reflects on changes over the years, such as increased costs of entry and living, particularly with the introduction of permits. They mention technological advancements, including more powerful boats and regulations requiring larger rings. The interviewee explains the payment structure and dynamics on the boat, noting occasional friction but overall positive relationships. They describe major fishing grounds ranging from the Virginia Capes to Montauk, with depths varying from 120 to 250 feet. The interviewee expresses concerns about fishing efforts in the George's Bank area, suggesting that too much fishing effort is being directed there. They emphasize the importance of closed areas to protect fish species and scallop growth but criticize the implementation process, suggesting political motivations and pressure from environmental groups. The narrator discusses the trend of processors owning boats, resulting in fewer independent owner-operators and more corporate control. They note the significant increase in the cost of entry into the industry and how it has changed the nature of fishing. The interviewee explains the different types of permits for scalloping based on historical fishing activity. They raise concerns about the uncontrolled growth of the day scalloping sector, calling for more control to avoid conflicts with full-time or part-time scallopers. The narrator suggests that the future of scallop fishing depends on the abundance of scallops. They foresee potential problems if abundance decreases significantly, particularly for high-priced boats that require substantial revenue to cover expenses. Throughout the interview, the individual shares their insights and opinions on the fishing industry, management practices, and the evolving dynamics that impact fishermen and their communities.

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