North Carolina Sea Grant

August 25, 2009 | Pam Morris

seafood traditions


How did you get into commercial fishing? “I was born in Charlotte but my family owned a camp to the banks.  We came here every summer when I was a kid. I started raking clams, and paid attention to the Old Salts – Carroll Willis, Milton Styron.

Are you glad you became a fisherman? “Absolutely. I get to be my own boss; come and go as I please.  I can spend afternoons with my kids and go to their ball games.”

How many people go shrimping with you? “I go by myself. I’m a one-man operation. Several of us tow together in a circle, so I’m not really alone. Until the last couple of years fifteen of us trawled just off Davis Shore – now there’s only about four.”

Why are fewer people shrimping nowadays? “Some of the fellas have aged out, and the younger generation isn’t getting in. The youngest in Davis today is 38.  Lots of fishermen were forced to find other jobs, because market conditions are so bad. The price of shrimp is low because of imports, and the cost of fuel goes up and up.  The resources are there, but the take-home pay is not!”

Is there any hope in the future for fishermen? “Yes. Conditions will turn around directly.  I’m sure of it.  If you can stick out these hard times, things will get better.  Have you heard the commercial on the radio encouraging people to eat local shrimp? We just need to keep our water quality healthy.  We could use more political support too!”

What’s your claim to fame? “I feel good about the work I did helping with the red drum fisheries management plan, like explaining how we can continue to set nets on this side of the sound for spots, while protecting red drum too.” NC Division of Marine Fisheries invites fishermen and others to participate in designing management plans – you can do it too!  Chip’s other claim to fame is that he was the first fisherman to tie up at the NC Seafood Festival dock to talk to visitors and demonstrate how a trawl works. “I enjoyed that! I got to meet a lot of nice people.”

What are the strangest things you’ve caught?
“An octopus. An old Indian pipe.”

Dr. Barbara Garrity-Blake, On behalf of Carteret Catch

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