Through the support of the Maine Humanities Council and the Island Institute, the Maine Coast Fishermen's Association was able to collect hours of oral histories from fishermen throughout Maine.
Gary Libby is a seasoned fisherman with deep roots in Port Clyde, Maine, a town with a rich maritime history. Born into a family with a longstanding connection to the sea, Gary's lineage includes coasters and merchant captains, and his family has been an integral part of the area for generations. His life has been shaped by the ebb and flow of the ocean and the fishing industry that has sustained his community for decades. From a young age, Gary was introduced to the ways of the water, starting with clamming and gradually moving on to more involved fishing practices such as dragging and lobstering. Over the years, he has witnessed and adapted to the shifting tides of the industry, from the fluctuating availability of different fish species to the evolving regulations that govern the waters he knows so well. His commitment to his craft is evident in his willingness to diversify, as seen in his recent focus on scalloping, a testament to his adaptability and determination to maintain his livelihood despite the challenges faced by modern fishermen.
Scope and Content Note
The interview with Gary Libby provides a comprehensive overview of the fishing industry's evolution and the various challenges that have shaped the livelihoods of fishermen in Port Clyde, Maine. Gary discusses the historical significance of the fishing industry to the town's economy and the subsequent shift towards tourism and a smaller lobster industry. He reflects on the role of government regulations, the influence of science in fisheries management, and the lack of fishermen's input in decision-making processes. Gary also shares personal anecdotes, including his family's fishing heritage and his nephew Justin Libby's role as the captain of the boat "Captain Lee." He touches on the establishment of the Port Clyde Fresh Catch, a fish processing plant owned by fishermen, and the community-supported fishery that has evolved in response to market changes. The interview delves into the impact of environmental factors such as global warming on fishing practices, the shift from days-at-sea to catch share systems, and the need for sustainability and traceability in seafood. Gary expresses concerns about the impact of technology on natural resources and the importance of reversing negative changes. He also recounts the challenges of selling catch in the late 1970s, the transition to fish auctions, and the decline of neighborly support among fishermen. The interview concludes with a reflection on the changing sense of community in Port Clyde and the overall challenges and changes in the fishing industry over the years, as documented in the Maine Coast Oral History Initiative.
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