THRIVING OR JUST SURVIVING: LONG ISLAND’S FISHING INDUSTRY

September 21, 2018 at 4:45 am

Are Long Island’s fishermen thriving or merely surviving on the East End? We’re taking a deep dive into the story.

Aired on September 20, 2018. 

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>> I'VE BEEN IN DIFFERENT
FISHERIES AND I STILL -- I CAN'T
SUCCEED DO MY GOAL TO GET MY OWN
LICENSE TO START MY OWN GEAR.
WITHOUT MY LICENSE, I'M NOTHING,
I'M JUST SOMEBODY ELSE'S WORKER.
SO IT'S VERY FRUSTRATING AND,
YOU KNOW, I DON'T WANT, LIKE I
SAID, I DON'T WANT TO BE PUSHED
OUT LIKE A BUNCH OF THE OLD
TIMERS HAVE.
HE'S HAVING A HARD TIME MAKING
ENDS MEET.
AARON WAS BORN IN SAG HARBOR,
HE'S PROBABLY ONE OF THE
YOUNGEST FISHERMEN.
WE CAUGHT UP WITH HIM ON ONE OF
THE UNUSUAL DAYS HE WAS NOT ON
THE WATER.
MANY LICENSES FOR FISHERIES IN
LONG ISLANDS ARE CLOSED DUE TO
THE POPULATION OF SOME FISH OR
THE COASTAL QUOTA SUCH AS SEA
BASS.
THE ONLY WAY A YOUNGER FISHERMAN
CAN HOPE TO GET ACCESS TO A
FISHERY IS IF THEIR PARENTS DIE
AND PASS THEM THE LICENSE.
THE PARENT HAS TO LIVE IN THE
SAME HOME AS THEM WHEN THEY
PASS.
AUTHORITIES PUT IN THAT
MORATORIUM.
>> I'VE BEEN IN THIS LOTTERY
SYSTEM FOR NEW YORK STATE.
AND I KEEP GETTING REJECTED IN A
WAY.
AND THEY CALL IT A LOTTERY, SO
IF YOU GO TO THE LOCAL GAS
STATION OR CORNER STORE AND BUY
A LOTTERY TICKET TO TRY TO BE A
MILLIONAIRE.
I DON'T WANT TO BE A
MILLIONAIRE, I WANT TO GETS A
FISHING LICENSE AND I CAN ENABLE
MYSELF TO MAKE MY OWN LIVING
INSTEAD OF WORKING ON THE BACK
DECK FOR SOMEBODY ELSE MY WHOLE
LIFE.
I WANT TO FISH.
I'M NOT GOING TO QUIT FISHING.
IT'S UNAMERICAN, I'VE SAID THIS
BEFORE, IT'S UNAMERICAN.
IF YOU WANT TO DO SOMETHING, YOU
SHOULD BE ABLE TO DO IT, IF YOU
PUSH HARD ENOUGH, SOMETHING
SHOULD COME OUT OF IT.
>> THE COMMERCIAL FISHING ISSUE
IN LONG ISLAND IS COMPLICATED.
BUT PART OF IT BASICALLY BOILS
DOWN TO SOME FISHERMEN WHO WANT
THEIR OWN FISHERY.
>> THAT LAST ONE BECOMES A BIT
OF AN ISSUE, BECAUSE MANY OF THE
OLD E EER FISHERMEN WHO GOT THE
LICENSE RENEW THEIR PERMITS, BUT
HARDLY USE THEM.
>> I'VE BEEN IN THE SAME ROOM
WITH NOT NAMING ANY CERTAIN
PERSON, BUT I KNOW FOR A FACT
THAT THEY'RE NOT FULL TIME
FISHERMEN LIKE MYSELF, AND IT'S
VERY FRUSTRATING.
KNOWING THAT THERE'S A
FRAUDULENT WAY OF GETTING A
LICENSE THAT THEY ASK FOR MY TAX
FORMS, I PROVE IT, I FILE MY
TAXES AS A COMMERCIAL FISHERMEN.
>> REMEMBER I SAID THIS IS
COMPLICATED.
>> ANTHONY IS A FULL TIME
FISHERMEN, HE'S BEEN IN THE GAME
SINCE 1980, HE HAS A
GRANDFATHERED FISHING LICENSE.
HE SAYS THERE'S A REASON WHY
PART TIME FISHERMEN RENEW THEIR
LICENSE EVERY YEAR.
>> IT'S DIFFICULT TO STAY A
COMMERCIAL FISHERMEN FULL TIME.
YOU DON'T HAVE BENEFITS, YOU
DON'T HAVE MEDICAL.
SO WE'RE UP AGAINST THE WEATHER.
WE'RE UP AGAINST QUOTAS, AND
WE'RE UP AGAINST OUR AGE EVEN AT
THIS POINT IN TIME.
WE'RE GETTING OLDER.
THE REGULATIONS HAVE NOT
SOFTENED.
>> IF MY FATHER WAS A PLUMBER, I
JUST DON'T GET HIS PLUMBING
LICENSE, YOU HAVE TO EARN IT,
YOU KNOW.
>> DANIEL COMES FROM A LONG
HISTORY OF FISHERMEN.
HE'S BEEN PART OF THE DECADES
LONG BATTLE.
§
>> ALEXA CAME OUT IN 1989 WHICH
SHOWS HOW LONG THIS BACK AND
FORTH WITH THE STATE GOES.
THAT'S NOT LOST ON NATHANIEL.
THE LEGACY OF FISHING MAY END
WITH HIM AND HIS GENERATION.
>> I HOPE THAT THE STATE FIGURES
OUT A WAY TO -- WHAT WE DO AND
HOW WE FISH OUT HERE IS A DYING
TRADE OR DEAD TRADE.
I KIND OF FEEL IGNORANT.
I'M STILL TRYING TO DO IT,
GUESS.
IT DOES MAKE ME HAPPY, IT'S WHAT
YOU DO, IT'S WHAT YOU KNOW.
BUT I HOPE THAT WITHOUT MORE
FISHERMEN AND YOUNGER FISHERMEN
IN THE INDUSTRY, IT WILL NOT
SURVIVE.
AND THAT'S JUST A FACT.
I WOULD RATHER SEE ANOTHER 100
FISHERMEN COMPETE EVERY DAY,
THAT'S THE ONLY WAY YOU ARE
GOING TO BE ABLE TO SURVIVE IN
THE INDUSTRY.
>> THE STATE IS TAKING NOTICE
NEAR THE BEGINNING OF THE
SUMMER, THE DEPARTMENT OF
ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION.
>> ANY REGULATIONS LEFT.
>> THE DEC HIRING CONSULTANT
FORMER COMMISSIONER OF NATURAL
RESOURCES, IS FIGURING OUT A WAY
TO STREAMLINE THE PROCESS THAT
WILL HELP SMALL COMMERCIAL
FISHERMEN, AND ALSO PROTECT
WATERS FROM OVER FISHING.
ONE THING WE HEARD SEVERAL TIMES
DURING THE MEETING AND BEFORE
WAS THIS.
>> I'VE BEEN IN THIS THE GAME
FOR LONG ENOUGH, WHERE YOU WOULD
THINK THAT I WORKED UNDER ENOUGH
PEOPLE.
THERE SHOULD BE SOME KIND OF
APPRENTICE PROGRAM.
SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE CHANGED.
>> THE DEC HAS NINE COMMUNITY
MEETINGS FROM JULY THROUGH
AUGUST.
BUT HAVE SINCE WRAPPED UP, AND
NOW THE WAIT BEGINS FOR GEORGE
LaPOINTE'S FINDINGS.
THEY EXPECT TO HAVE A FIRST
DRAFT OF THAT REPORT BY OCTOBER.
THAT DRAFT WILL BE PRESENTED TO
THE FISHERY COMMUNITY AND THEN
THE RESPONSES OF THAT AS WELL AS
THE DRAFT WILL DETERMINE WHAT
THE NEXT STEPS WILL BE.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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