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Interviewee: Bill Tunney

Role: Commercial Fisherman

Date of Interview:11/8/07

Collection: Long Island Traditions

Click on the link below to play the audio clip from the interviewee.

Bill Tunney grew up in Bellport Village and began clamming at a time when it was a big industry in the Great South Bay. When the clam population diminished, he switched to gillnetting, and also harvests blue claw crabs. Bill sells his fish to Mastic Seafood, to local fish markets, and to customers in New York City.

Abstract: “I uh, I grew up in Bellport Village. You know, clammin’ was real big back then in the bay and it was just something that I wanted to do. When I was around thirteen I bought my first boat. You know, I mowed lawns when I was a young kid, bought a boat, and I just started clammin’ and one thing lead to another. It's not like my family was, you know, I'm not a second or third generation, just something I liked and stuck with it.

There's a lot of things driving regulation. You have the Magnuson Acts, you have politics, you have the federal government setting quotas and states allowed to implement that. It's it's, yeah it's affected us. What it does is it puts you on your heels because the regulations come out and they'll declare a certain size, they'll declare a...you just constantly have to change your gear so it's a little nerve-wracking when it takes six to eight months to order, special order a gill net and have it made, and then something shows up in the mail that says you gotta do it differently. So really, I wish there was more of a lag time as far as you know when the New Year comes around and these regulations come in the mail and you have these meetings. So really, the biggest effect is really the uncertainty, of what you can and can't catch. You know, you don't really know what your income is going to be based on, you know, because the regulations are changing all the time, and then the most frustrating thing is just you having to change your gear and react to those...they say you can't use this size mesh on monkfish anymore and you have a whole backyard full of it, you know? It's tough. You know, and I'm pro-conservation, I think a lot of the regulations are good, but I think a lot of them are too driven by politics. I keep saying that, politics, but some of them aren't good. You know, it's tough, it's scary is what it is. It really is.”

To listen to Bill's interview, click here.