A visit with New Jersey’s commercial fishermen
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KEVIN HENRY
New Jersey comes in seventh (after Alaska, Massachusetts, Maine, Louisiana, Washington and Texas) in a ranking of states by the value of their commercial catch. In 2011, New Jersey commercial fishermen unloaded fi sh and shellfish worth more than $220 million at docks in Point Pleasant, Barnegat Light, Cape May and elsewhere. Thanks to the growth of the local-food movement, many of us now know the face of a Garden State farmer. Few of us, however, have ever met one of the state’s hard-working commercial fishermen.
According to the Atlantic Coastal Cooperative Statistics Program, there were 355 active commercial fishermen in New Jersey in 2012—the number of boat owners and captains. Add in crewmen, and perhaps there are a couple thousand more. Other numbers confirm what’s said on the docks and at port watering holes, namely, that the industry needs new blood to survive. The average age of mid-Atlantic commercial fishermen is 53 years old.
In the pages ahead, you’ll meet three New Jersey boat captains—two veterans and a youngster—who share stories about the work and life of one of