Johnny Bennett

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 


Johnny Bennett is a seasoned commercial fisherman hailing from Brunswick, Georgia, who has witnessed firsthand the downturn of the local fishing industry. With years of experience on the waters, Bennett has seen the effects of environmental changes and regulatory decisions on his livelihood. The closure of the sound, a critical event in the area's ecological and economic landscape, has been a significant factor in the decline of shrimp and crab populations, which are central to Bennett's trade. Bennett's connection to fishing is not just professional but also deeply personal, as it is a craft passed down through his family. This generational link underscores the challenges he and his family have faced as the industry has grappled with adversity. Despite his passion for fishing, Bennett is acutely aware of the difficulties that have come with the changing times, including the need for frequent repairs to his fishing nets and the seasonal patterns that dictate the migration of shrimp and turtles. The increase in shark populations is another concern for Bennett, adding to the complexities of his work. His reflections on the past glory days of fishing, when the waters were more generous, and the industry thrived, are tinged with a hope that the sound will one day be reopened and restored. Bennett's advocacy for a cleaner and more sustainable environment is driven by his desire to see the fishing industry recover for the benefit of future generations.

Scope and Content Note
The interview with Johnny Bennett, a commercial fisherman from Brunswick, Georgia, provides a comprehensive overview of the challenges facing the local fishing industry, particularly in the realms of shrimping and crabbing. Bennett details the adverse effects that environmental changes, regulatory decisions, and the closure of the sound have had on the industry's viability and on his ability to sustain a living from the waters that have long been his family's workplace. Throughout the interview, Bennett reflects on his family's longstanding connection to fishing, offering insights into the generational impact of the industry's decline. He speaks candidly about his affection for the profession despite the hardships, including the necessity of frequent net repairs and the seasonal migration patterns of shrimp and turtles that affect his work. Bennett also addresses the ecological shifts in the area, such as the increase in shark populations and the decrease in shrimp and crab numbers, which he links to overfishing and the sound's closure. He reminisces about the more prosperous times in the past when the waters yielded greater bounty. The interview concludes with Bennett expressing his aspirations for the future, including the reopening and restoration of the sound. His hope is that such measures would lead to a revitalization of the fishing industry and benefit the local ecosystem, ensuring that future generations can continue the family tradition of fishing.

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