“I'm a second generation fisherman and have been fishing for 25 years. My father bought his first commercial fishing boat in 1975. He has since owned several others and spent a few years running boats offshore fishing for monkfish.
I have fished on and off with my dad since I was about eight years old. We would gillnet most of the year, do a little bit of longlining, and chase bluefin tuna in the summers.
I always said that I wasn't going to be a fisherman when I grow up, but it gets in your blood and you can't resist it.
When I graduated from the University of Rhode Island (Bachelors degree in Aquaculture and fisheries Technology) fishing was a way to pay back my student loans. I still didn't consider it my career choice. I did try other avenues on the water. I worked on a research vessel up in Alaska for a summer after the Valdez oil spill. I worked on a long range charter boat out of San Diego for a year. I did a little commercial fishing out of North Carolina for a few winters.
In 2000 I finally couldn't resist the pull of the Gloucester fishing scene and moved back to Gloucester and worked on deck and captained an offshore gillnetter for a few years before I bit the bullet, realized that I truly loved my job, and bought my own boat.
I have owned my current boat, the 31' Kathryn Leigh, since 2003, but I have only owned my federal permit since 2005. But I only have 2 years of my own fishing history in the 96-2006 time frame which is the span of years fisheries regulators are using to base our future fishing quotas on. Since I bought the permit from someone else, my fishing future is mostly based on someone else’s history not mine.
I mostly gillnet and longline for cod, pollock, and haddock with the boat from November to April. The upcoming changes in regulations are forcing me to seek new avenues such as chartering and research work. I have no intention of giving up what I have worked so hard for without trying my hardest to make it work.
My ultimate fantasy job would be to stay a small commercial day boat for the rest of my life.”