By Sheila Dassatt
How many of you remember the song by Dan Fogelberg, “The Reach?” It is a beautiful tribute to our area, right here in Eggemoggin Reach, Deer Isle, Maine, which a lot of folks are not aware of. If you have a moment for something positive, look it up on your phone and take a listen. It has one verse that says, “It’s Maine and it’s autumn, the lobster boats come returning, with the catch of the day in their hold.” I won’t go on and on, but it also refers to the young men being cold and complaining, but their father’s had them on the boat, regardless. It was and is all a learning curve. It taught them how to survive and tolerate the colder elements while on the boat. This also taught what hard work is all about. Believe me, I know…….I was on the boat with my Dad and Mike during the month of October! Actually, it was overwhelmingly beautiful being on the water when the trees are all colors of red, orange and yellow. The air was crisp and the catch was generally very good. A few years back, it was referred to as “Fall Harvest” but for lobsters and fishermen as well as Harvest time for the farmers.
We have had a lot of talk and articles about the Final Whale Rule and the Law suits that are ramping up, which are all necessary for survival. After a while, we get a little weary with the constant “fight for survival.” I am, as well as our fellow association members and fishing families, doing the best that we can to not take this lightly and try to get the message out that a lot of people depend on this way of life. I can honestly say, when it is said that fishermen are the “salt of the earth” they weren’t kidding. When times are hard, they are right there to help one another. This is why it is so absurd that people would honestly think that we would deliberately harm a whale or anything else that lives in the sea.
A little while back, I wrote an article on the Lost Generation, which has had an opportunity to reach out and touch a few people along the way. I am very glad for this! There has been an awareness for this and some very good attention and articles and radio interviews. Shannon Mullen of Maine Public Radio contacted me over the summer and we collaborated about this subject. She had an opportunity to meet with some of our younger folks and ask them if they feel they can rely on the fishing as a lifelong means of making a living. I posted the information in my DELA Report that links you to the articles and interviews. This is also a very good awareness to check out if you have the time. I believe that there will be more in the near future concerning our “Lost Generation.” It was a pleasure to work with Shannon, and I thank you very much!
Since Mike and I have been living in Stonington, (I’m back home), we can first hand see how dependent a fishing community is with fishing. It all fits together like one of those thousand piece puzzles. All the boats come in at a certain time of the day, then the lobster trucks are there to get loaded with the catch. About the time that we get home from haul, we always say, “here come the lobster trucks!” They are leaving for the mainland to deliver our catch for outside deliveries. In the mornings, we see the bait trucks coming in, delivering the bait that we need before we go out to haul. This involves fork lift drivers, dock workers and well organized lobster dealers located on the waterfront. Let’s not forget that a lobsterman needs a boat, which is a very valuable tool! So there are boat builders all along the Coast of Maine that are always designing the best way to meet the needs of the upcoming regulations, fuel efficiency, safety, and so on. Every day we see boats coming in to the boat yard, which is always there in time of need, especially if you need a repair in a hurry to get you back out there. There’s bait dealers, marine stores, seafood markets and restaurants that feature the best seafood in the world!
I don’t want to bore you with putting the pieces of the puzzle together, but it is all very important if you live in the areas that is totally dependent on these puzzle pieces. We can not afford to lose this way of life that has gone this way for generations.
I am at a point in my life that I have faith in the next generation, as I have seen the good side of these young people. Oh, there’s always room for a little work with a few things, but after a few hard knocks, we do learn eventually. We don’t know unless we have a little discipline and set ourselves up as an example to lead by. My Dad, who many of you may remember, always said at the boat shop, “I won’t ask any worker to do something that I wouldn’t do myself.” And he lived by that, some days being covered with grinding dust and the smell of gel coat and resin. His legacy lives on, that’s how we learn and respect one another! We will survive this, if we all put one foot in front of the other and don’t back down. Take care….