Pam Smith

Location of Interview
Collection Name

Oral Histories from the New England Fisheries


The oral histories are an in depth look at how the fishing industry affects individual fishermen as well as their  families. The oral histories also allow us to gain inside perspective  on how management regulations affect the social and cultural aspects of people in the fishery.

Date of Interview
Principal Investigator

Pam Smith is a school teacher from Jonesport, Maine, with a rich family history tracing back to Ireland. She is the second of four siblings, with her older brother living on Beal's Island, her younger brother having lived in California and now shipping out, and her sister residing in Florida. Her husband is a fisherman, involved in various fisheries including quahogging, lobstering, scallop diving, and tuna fishing. He originally bought his boat in 1987 for gill netting, but lost his ground fish permit the same year. Despite this setback, he has managed to make a living from fishing. Pam started teaching before her husband's fishing difficulties began, but she returned to work after having children due to the financial instability caused by the fishing industry.

Scope and Content Note
This interview with Pam Smith, conducted by Lisa Colburn on August 16, 2004, provides a detailed insight into the life of a fisherman's wife and the challenges faced by the fishing community in Jonesport, Maine. Pam discusses her husband's involvement in various fisheries, the loss of his ground fish permit, and the financial difficulties that led her to return to work as a school teacher. She also touches on the impact of red tide on quahogging and the poor scallop catch that prevented her husband from scallop dragging in the past winter. Pam also shares her family history, tracing her ancestry back to Ireland, and discusses her upbringing in Jonesport, including her role models and the close-knit nature of her family. She provides information about her siblings and their current locations, as well as her husband's family and their involvement in the fishing industry. The interview also explores the role of women in the fishing industry, with Pam noting an increase in women picking out crabs and working as stern men for their husbands. She suggests that this trend may be related to financial benefits, as it allows families to keep more income within the family. Pam herself worked as a stern man for her husband one summer when money was scarce.

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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.