As my buddies are out getting flash frozen by a cold and angry sea to bring lobsters to market, I thought it would be appropriate to shed light on some fishermen I know. These men risk their lives all year long, in the face of dangerous weather, crushing restrictions and a segment of the media that targets them as criminals…all in the name of fish.
Our local fishery is controversial, with fishermen and scientists at odds over what is really out there. Everyone agrees that there is plenty of haddock, but what about cod or yellowtail flounder? Wherever the truth really lies, fishermen are at the mercy of scientific data that are admittedly too small to cover the various breeding stocks of these commercially important and ecologically intertwined species. There have been mistakes made, which leads to distrust. And then those mistakes were incorporated into the subsequent policies, leading to anger.
When commercial fishermen see a NOAA survey vessel on the horizon, on grounds where fishermen know there are no fish that time of year, what are they to think? Meanwhile they have a deckload of fish and in if they go over their quota, they have to throw these dead fish overboard or risk going to jail. I have heard this story too many times in recent years for me not to take it seriously.
These are some of the men, some of them family friends, that deal with this and more, on a regular basis to bring some of the best fish in America to our tables.
Here is Rick Beal, my buddy Kevin’s old man. One of the nicest guys you could meet on the waterfront. Kev has told me that at an age where landsmen would be getting ready to retire, Rick is entering new branches of the fishery to keep going.
An excellent short film centering on the Testaverde family and the current plight of the Gloucester fishermen. They are from the same neighborhood as my family, with similar roots. The stories they tell are just how I grew up. While my family got out in the 1980’s they are helping keep the tradition alive.
Here is a video called Shifting Tides. Fans of Wicked Tuna may see a familiar face speaking out against catch shares.