Charlie Phillips

Location of Interview
Collection Name

Fishing Traditions & Fishing Futures in Georgia


The goal of the “Fishing Traditions and Fishing Futures” project is to raise awareness of the experiences of commercial fishermen and their changing livelihoods in Georgia by documenting their local fisheries knowledge   and perspectives about the state and fate of Georgia’s commercial fishing industry through the use of oral  histories. Capturing the life stories and experiences of Georgia’s commercial fishermen is especially important since many local communities have depended on the coastal environment for their economic and cultural base  for generations.

Date of Interview

National Capital Contracting 


Charles Phillips, a native of Jesup, Georgia, spent his early years engaged in farming activities such as baling hay and picking tobacco. However, his life took a significant turn when his family moved to the coast around his seventh grade. Here, he developed a deep connection with the water, spending most of his time exploring the marshes and rivers, and visiting friends via his 14-foot aluminum skiff. His father, after a brief stint in shrimping, decided to invest in a shrimp boat, marking the beginning of the family's foray into the seafood industry. Phillips' father initially worked on the deck of the boat, learning the ropes of the trade, before eventually taking over as the captain. Phillips himself was deeply involved in the family business, Phillips Seafood, which sourced shad primarily from the Altamaha River. Despite the hard work and long hours, Phillips developed a strong affinity for the water and the community of people who made their living from it.

Scope and Content Note
The interview with Charles Phillips, conducted by Jennifer Sweeney Tookes from Georgia Southern University, provides a rich and detailed account of Phillips' life and experiences in the commercial fishing industry in Georgia. The interview covers a wide range of topics, including Phillips' early life in Jesup, his family's move to the coast, and their entry into the seafood industry. Phillips shares anecdotes about his father's initial experiences with shrimping and the subsequent decision to buy a shrimp boat. He also discusses the unique lifestyle and culture of the coastal community, including their strong bonds and shared experiences. The interview also touches on the challenges and realities of the fishing industry, such as the long hours, hard work, and the impact of drugs on the crew. Phillips also shares his insights on the inaccuracies in Google Maps' nautical terms and the importance of using proper nautical charts. The interview provides a valuable perspective on the commercial fishing industry in Georgia, highlighting both its rewards and challenges.

Please Note: The oral histories in this collection are protected by copyright and have been created for educational, research and personal use as described by the Fair Use Doctrine in the U.S. Copyright law. Please reach out to let us know how these interviews are being used in your research, project, exhibit, etc.  The Voices staff can help provide other useful resources related to your inquiry. 

The NOAA mission is to understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans, and coasts, to share that knowledge and information with others, and to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources. The Voices Oral History Archives offers public access to a wide range of accounts, including historical materials that are products of their particular times, and may contain offensive language or negative stereotypes.

Voices Oral History Archives does not verify the accuracy of materials submitted to us. The opinions expressed in the interviews are those of the interviewee only. The interviews here have been made available to the public only after the interviewer has confirmed that they have obtained consent.