Leon Skipper

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

Leon Skipper is a seasoned commercial fisherman from McIntosh County, Georgia, with over fifty years of experience in the shrimping industry. Born and raised in Bolin, Georgia, Skipper moved to Meridian later in life. His passion for shrimping was ignited during his childhood when he would accompany his father on fishing trips during weekends and school holidays. Skipper's career in shrimping has taken him from North Carolina to the Gulf Coast, Texas, Campeche Mexico, and back up to Tampa, Florida. He has held various positions on the boat, starting as a helper and working his way up to the first mate, a position he still holds today. Despite the challenges and long periods away from home, Skipper's love for shrimping and the open water has kept him in the industry. In addition to his work, Skipper is a dedicated family man. He got married in the early 1970s and has been with his wife for over forty-seven years. They have a daughter, who was born while Skipper was away on a shrimping trip in Mexico.

Scope and Content Note
The interview with Leon Skipper, conducted by Julia Thomas and Victoria Barrett, provides a comprehensive account of Skipper's life and career in the shrimping industry. The interview covers a wide range of topics, including Skipper's childhood, his experiences in the shrimping industry, and his personal life. The interview begins with Skipper discussing his early life in McIntosh County, Georgia, and how his father's influence sparked his interest in shrimping. He then delves into his career in the shrimping industry, discussing his experiences working on various boats and traveling to different locations, from North Carolina to Mexico. Skipper also discusses the evolution of the shrimping industry over the years, noting the changes in regulations, shrimp prices, and the number of boats in operation. He shares his experiences of working in rough weather conditions and the dangers associated with the job. In addition to his career, Skipper also shares the story of his daughter's birth while he was away on a shrimping trip and his upcoming forty-seventh wedding anniversary. He also talks about the importance of community in the shrimping industry and the friendships he has made over the years. The interview concludes with Skipper reflecting on the history and heritage of Coastal Georgia and the importance of preserving this history for future generations. Overall, the interview provides a rich and personal insight into the life and career of a seasoned commercial fisherman. It offers a unique perspective on the shrimping industry, highlighting the challenges and rewards of a career in commercial fishing, and provides a glimpse into a way of life that is slowly fading away.

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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.

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