Interviewee: Richard Walz

Role: Commercial Fishing Captain

Date of Interview: 7/18/12

Collection: Sector Management in New England

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

Abstract: Richard "Rob" Walz, 50, a commercial fisherman out of Tiverton, RI, began fishing as a boy. Mr. Walz fishes offshore, targeting different species seasonally. He has been a member of the common pool since sector management began, because his sector allocation was too small. Mr. Walz finds that sector management often causes fishermen to target one species, whereas fishermen used to diversify and catch numerous different species in an effort to conserve less abundant fish. He has experienced a decrease in quality of life, health, income and time with family as a result of regulations and finds that fishing is less predictable now than in years past.


AC: That was sort of a conservation tactic you chose?

RW: Right, and that's the way we used to fish. Like as a whole group. Most guys, not all, but most of the fishermen, would just say, "Let's lay off this fish for awhile, and go for something else." And you'd see a big shift in effort. You know, this port, Point Judith, New Bedford, everybody would shift their effort to a different thing, and fish a little bit for different species. It used to be really neat. We'd be able to go out and bring in 7, 8 different species at a time. If one species wasn't doing good, we'd just catch a little bit of that particular species, but you'd really be going for something else. Where as now, you pretty much have to concentrate on one thing at a time.

AC: And what does that do for the resource, in your opinion?

RW: Well, it basically puts all the effort into one fishery, and it over-capitalizes that fishery, beats it that fishery to the point that all of a sudden the fishery is in a disaster, and it's being closed. Because they are pushing all the effort, you know, like when they closed flounder fishing, when they closed cod fishing, suddenly there's a million nets out there for one species, monkfish. Everybody on the southeast coast is fishing for that one thing, and it affects that, because it's apparently not in an over-fished condition right now. Fortunately they're pretty good growers [and] reproducers. But there's heavy fishing pressure on them right now, because of all the other closed fisheries. And I don't have a lot of faith, ya know, it's kind of scary [that] if it keeps going that way, that'll possibly close, too.

RW: And then we counted on cod. So pretty much, cod and flounder, our staples for the winter here, were just taken away from us totally. And then you get forced into another fishery that you have a license for. A lot of times, those are over-crowded, but you have no choice.

To read Rob's full transcript, click here.