New England Fishing Struggles to Attract the Young

Old men and the sea: Younger generation in New England is steering clear of fishing industry

ABC News
December 29, 2009

Meanwhile, Northeast groundfish revenue dropped from about $71 million in 2004 to about $62 million in 2008, and the catch fell from about 77 million pounds to 66 million.

As the chance to fish has become more scarce, it has also become exponentially more expensive. Government-issued fishing permits that were bought and sold among fishermen for a few thousand dollars in the mid-1990s go for at least $200,000 nowadays.

Lee Schatvet, a 21-year-old fisherman from Rye Harbor, N.H., would like to run his own boat but figures he would need $400,000 to $500,000 for a decent vessel, gear and a permit. And a young man with a limited credit history has little chance of securing that kind of money.

“It’s basically impossible to get into the industry nowadays,” Schatvet said.

Jonathan Bunce, 32, said it is a bad time to invest, even if he had the money, because of strict new catch limits that go into effect this spring. “You know, ‘Am I going to be able to make this back? Am I going to lose the boat?'” he said.

New Hampshire fisherman Jay Driscoll, 39, has been one of the youngest boat owners around since he bought his permit for $3,000 in 1996. He said he worries that only large corporate trawlers will remain once the older generation retires.

That could further hurt New England’s struggling fishing communities, whose economies have long relied on a healthy small-boat fleet.

The article continues at ABCNews.

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