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Commercial Fishing
02-20-2016, 01:23 PM
Post: #1
Commercial Fishing
I have nothing but respect for those who make their living on the water. Until you have done it you can’t appreciate the hard work, long hours, knowledge and danger involved each and every day. My father was a fisherman as was my grandfather who was lost at sea lobstering. It amazes me that my father could head out offshore in the fog with just a compass and find his gear and get back safely. Back in those days you could haul your 100 or so traps twice a day.

I have never owned my own fishing vessel, but have fished for lobster, scallops, and shrimp, purse seined for herring and dragged for ground fish on many different boats for various owners. It has its rewards, but I never encountered the “easy money” some folks talk about. The financial investment required to be competitive is huge. If you look at the investment that most fishermen have in equipment you might wonder why they don’t sell out and live off the interest. You can’t put a price on the way of life and the independence it offers, but it is earned.

It is amazing how fishermen self-regulate disputes and settle grievances. It is not exactly like the Wild West and once in a while things escalate out of control, but generally sure and certain punishment is a great deterrent. Add your stories here about this unique and threatened way of life. In my opinion, regulations seem designed to put fishermen out of business.

One story I will share with you now to demonstrate the self-regulating nature of this industry. I once managed a fisherman’s co-op and among many things I was the lobster buyer. I estimated that I had personally picked up a million pounds of lobster with my own hands one to two at a time during the time I was at it. In those days we had wooden crates that had to be weighed on platform scales just before filling with lobsters. Sometimes for large hauls, you would pass the pre-balanced crate to the lobstermen who had their lobsters in water tanks; they would fill them with lobsters and pass them back to be weighed.

One day, my biggest wholesale dealer brought back to me a 17 pound granite ballast rock that a fisherman had slipped into the crate with the lobsters that I did not see. I had to credit the dealer but I wanted to find out who slipped me the rock. I placed the rock on the front of my desk in the office/store. As each co-op member saw the rock, they would ask me what it was doing there. All did except one, I guess he knew something about it already. Unfortunately, while playing cribbage with one of the senior co-op members, I let it slip who it was that didn’t ask about the rock. The following week a fairly large number of co-op members returning from haul, reported to me ”they had gotten their share of the rock”. I guess everything evens out in the end!
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02-20-2016, 02:34 PM
Post: #2
RE: Commercial Fishing
Funny, it is hard no doubt but I have to admit watching the guys work outdoors last winter I was sure glad we made the call to bring our gear in and put it in the yard. Like you I come from a family of fishermen, grandfather was a dory man, lobsterman, stop twining herring, as was his brother, I lost an uncle overboard and drowned. Dad is a dealer and made sure all us kids worked, pumped gas, drove trucks, picked shrimp, and after 65 yrs he may have finally enough with government regulations and BS. One brother still lobsters, one brother after many years working for Dad called it quits and now has a farm in Lee.
I was lucky enough to go deep sea working on oil tankers, loved the work, missed the family. So now I just go as stern man for my son.
M.D. We probably know each other or have some mutual friends, small industry. We bought a lot of lobsters from the Midcoast area back in the 60's and 70's.
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02-21-2016, 04:49 AM
Post: #3
RE: Commercial Fishing
M.D. Your Private message is not turned on.
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02-21-2016, 06:29 AM
Post: #4
RE: Commercial Fishing
I guess i can't find the switch to turn it on.
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02-21-2016, 08:14 AM
Post: #5
RE: Commercial Fishing
Strange, you can send but receive, I will check on my end.
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02-21-2016, 02:24 PM
Post: #6
RE: Commercial Fishing
(02-20-2016 02:34 PM)Islander Wrote:  M.D. We probably know each other or have some mutual friends, small industry. We bought a lot of lobsters from the Midcoast area back in the 60's and 70's.

Woops! I need to be more careful. Now I can't write about the high divorce rate among fishermen, infidelity by husbands and their wives and my theory that seafood may be the cause.
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02-21-2016, 02:36 PM
Post: #7
RE: Commercial Fishing
I tried to send a PM the other day and got the message that he could NOT receive them!
Must be a setting button there someplace!

I started lobster fishing with only a couple of traps when I was around 12 or so in Stonington. I did that for several summers, having a few more traps each year. I think my first license was $10 if I remember right.

My Uncle Charles, a lifelong lobster fisherman, fell out of his boat on a Sunday morning in Sept 1962 and paid the ultimate price. Anyone who has ever fished knows there are more ways to end up in the water than there are people who have done it. Like Islander talked about in another thread I know full well the fear in you heart when you get dragged back to the stern by a pair of traps in the water. I was lucky I could cut the rope. Still scares me to think of it today.

BTW during that year of 1962 three people from the Island died in the water. My family used to say these things come in "threes" and they did that year!

I went to work at the boatyard in Stonington in 1970, repairing yachts and commercial fishing vessels and eventually repowering a lot of them with GM diesels during that revolution in the 70's. I always kept my traps and had a succession of boats but was a "part timer" (not a nice word in some locales) then. Eventually my heart won that battle and I left the yard to go fishing full time. Had about 350 traps eventually. But in the mid-70's to early 80's there was little money in it, banks repoed lots of boats and many of my friends gave it up for better jobs.

I quite full time in about 1980 for the same reasons, pretty near starved to death in the winter. Scalloping, a winter job for lobster fishermen had dried up due to low catches and low prices. So I went into building construction. Went back to "part time" lobstering until the early 2000's when I got sick of the government regulatory BS! Still have some of my equipment and tools but will never use it again. What used to be about the most independant group of people in the world, completely "knuckled under" to the bureucrats! When I was a kid the only thing you needed was a "license" and there were only few rules.

Now you need "permission" and luck to even be able to buy a license.

I have said before, and will say again, this regulatory BS will be the end of working fishing families on the Maine coast, if/when the lobster fishery goes into a huge down cycle which is way overdue.

A bum from the streets of Boston, Max Strahan, led the initial crusade that has resulted in all the controversial regulations that have come along since. He had more impact on Maine lobster fishing than any other single person I know of in my lifetime.

And it won't turn out to have been a good one in the long run!

WC
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02-21-2016, 07:46 PM
Post: #8
RE: Commercial Fishing
(02-21-2016 02:36 PM)woodcanoe Wrote:  I tried to send a PM the other day and got the message that he could NOT receive them!
Must be a setting button.

WC

I must be doing something wrong that causes your return PM not to go through. I know i did not save a copy of the PM I sent you. Try sending a PM from scratch. If that doesn't work I will have to ask Bob what's up..
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02-22-2016, 06:00 AM (This post was last modified: 02-22-2016 06:04 AM by Islander.)
Post: #9
RE: Commercial Fishing
Will do, we bought more than a few lobsters out if Stonington back in the day. One of the reasons dad gave up lobstering was just as WC says , he figured that just home from the war, new wife and a family on the way, it was better to be a lobster dealer. So he bought out my uncle ( he went back to lobstering) and the rest us history.
the biggest pain we have is Ted Ames, you may know him WC. They convinced us that zones would be the way to self regulate, asclong as the powers that be agree that is.
And yes my first license was also $10, where it asked for buoy color, mine said bait boy, I was 11

Still no go on the PM
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02-22-2016, 11:44 PM (This post was last modified: 02-22-2016 11:46 PM by woodcanoe.)
Post: #10
RE: Commercial Fishing
Oh my god you mentioned the devil himself......and here he is!
[Image: ated_zpsu3gthl8k.jpg]

Mr Ted Ames!

I can tell you without the slightest hesitation whatsoever that a "greater asshole" NEVER lived on the coast of Maine. He fancies himself god's gift to fishermen....and the smartest man who ever lived on the Maine coast.

He is from North Haven, or maybe Vinal Haven, from a fishing family so it was easy to convince the Maine fishermen that he was one of them!

He isn't. He is Judas himself.

Here is his wife!
[Image: arobinalden_zpse08nt5ko.jpg]


Robin Alden. Former "commissioner of Marine Resources" for Maine. Just as big a blowhard as her other half is!

And here is what they started:
[Image: apenobscoteast_zpsrpygldpt.jpg]


That palatial edifice is the home of Penobscot East Research Center

Read the babble to see what they do

Just about all the radical ideas regarding lobster fishing in Maine eminate from that building! It was at one time the business of lobster Dealer Ralph K Barter, who went on to operate the sardine cannery and turn it into a big time operation. My dad went to work in that building, for Ralph, the day after he graduated high school in 1936. He was the bookkeeper and bought lobsters on the dock.
that was also the place I kept my first little skiff so I could row out and tend my trap line (3). The building was lavishly remodeled, at mostly taxpayer expense I am sure and it is now a "glorious" non profit,like so many others in Maine, that allow the two "principles" to live in the lavish style that they are sure they deserve!

This is NOT a mom and pop operation. Here is a photo of the staff.
[Image: astaff_zpsngsugead.jpg]

Staff of Penobscot East Research Center. I cannot say too much about them as they just work there. I know several of them personally and one is the wife of a very good friend!

All of these photos are taken in Stonington, and their Taj Mahal is almost directly across the street from my grandmother's house and the place my dad grew up! This place is NO asset to the town in my humble opinion.

This operation sucks up public money the way a dry sponge sucks up water. When Robin Alden was made commissioner" the fact that her hubby (Ted) was a fisherman, was used to sucker all the fishermen and families in Maine into supporting whatever was proposed. When they closed those zones, that was the beginnning of the end we are yet to see.....but surely will one day soon when the lobster industry takes the inevitable downturn.

If I could buy that pair for what they are REALLY worth, and sell them for what they THINK they are worth, I would own a mansion on Grand Cayman Island!

They disgust me......and have for many years. I blame much of the debacle that's coming on those two!


WC
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