Leonard W. Crosby

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 


Leonard Crosby, a native of Savannah, Georgia, has a rich history deeply intertwined with the local fishing industry. His formative years were spent engaging with the natural waterways of his hometown, where he developed a passion for catfishing and mullet jumping. This early exposure to aquatic life led him to pursue a career closely connected to the water. Initially, Crosby found employment with the railroad, a job that, while not directly related to fishing, kept him in proximity to the coastal environment he cherished. Eventually, he transitioned into commercial fishing, with a particular focus on shrimping, an occupation that would define much of his professional life. Throughout his career, Crosby witnessed and adapted to the myriad changes within the fishing industry, from fluctuating fuel prices to the concerning decline in shrimp populations. His experiences also placed him in the midst of discussions regarding the development of a super port on the Georgia coast, a proposal with significant implications for the local fishing community and the coastal ecosystem.

Scope and Content Note
The oral history interview with Leonard Crosby provides a comprehensive overview of the evolution of the shrimping industry in Georgia, as well as the personal and collective challenges faced by those within it. Crosby delves into the decline of the industry, highlighting the difficulties that the younger generation encounters in upholding fishing traditions amidst modern challenges. He reflects on the diversification of fishing methods and the stringent regulations that have reshaped the practice of fishing. Crosby's narrative is punctuated by cultural elements, including a poem about death and a visual representation of the Grim Reaper, which underscore the gravity of the industry's situation. Furthermore, he recounts the establishment and management of a shrimp cooperative in Richmond Hill, Georgia, during the late 1970s, offering insights into the operational hurdles and triumphs of the co-op against a backdrop of industry-wide transformations. Crosby addresses the economic pressures exerted by high fuel costs, fluctuating shrimp prices, and the competition from imported shrimp. He also acknowledges the environmental concerns that have contributed to the decline in shrimp populations, citing hurricanes and pollution as contributing factors. The interview paints a picture of an industry in flux, with Crosby providing a firsthand account of the cyclical nature of shrimp seasons, the superior quality of Georgia shrimp, and the uncertain future that the shrimping industry faces in the region.

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