John McDonald

Location of Interview
Collection Name

Cortez Village Voices from the Fisheries


This project is a collection of oral histories of Cortez, Florida community members who are involved in maritime activities (such as commercial fishermen, recreational fishermen, crew members, and fish house workers) in order to document the changing face of Cortez Village's marine environment.

Date of Interview

National Capital Contracting

Biographical Sketch

John McDonald, a native of Cortez, Florida, has a rich history rooted in the local fishing industry. Born into a family of fishermen, McDonald learned the trade from his father, spending his formative years on the waters around Mullet Key. His upbringing in Cortez was marked by a close connection to the sea and the community's maritime traditions. Seeking to broaden his horizons, McDonald enlisted in the Navy, where he acquired technical education and embraced the opportunity to travel. After his service, he returned to his hometown, where he continued to engage in fishing, a profession that had undergone significant changes over the years. McDonald's life is a tapestry of experiences that reflect the evolution of Cortez, from a small fishing village to a community grappling with modernization and growth. His post-retirement years have been dedicated to the preservation of local history through his involvement with the Cortez Village Historical Society.

Scope and Content Note
This interview with John McDonald, conducted at the Cortez Maritime Museum, offers a comprehensive oral history of a lifelong fisherman's experiences and observations of Cortez, Florida. McDonald recounts his childhood in Cortez, his time in the Navy, and his return to the fishing industry. He provides a detailed account of a fisherman's daily routine, the intricacies of mullet fishing, and the economic impact of the roe industry on the local mullet population. McDonald also addresses the technological advancements in fishing and the effects of the 1995 net ban on the industry. The interview captures McDonald's insights into the cultural and environmental shifts in Cortez, highlighting the introduction of electricity and refrigeration as pivotal moments in the community's history. His commentary on the tension between historical preservation and contemporary development offers a personal perspective on the challenges faced by Cortez. Additionally, McDonald's involvement with the Cortez Village Historical Society underscores his commitment to safeguarding the area's maritime heritage.

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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.