Vicki Harrison (VH) of Hatteras, NC talks with Pam Morris (PM) about the snapper/grouper fishery.
PM: Tell us a little of how and when you become a commercial fisherman?
VH: My husband and his family camped in Ocracoke and Hatteras in the 1950s and 60s. When it was time for his dad to retire he wanted to move to North Carolina and invited Robert and me to join him.
PM: Are any of your family involved in the seafood industry?
VH: My husband Robert is a fisherman and our son, Graham, 19, is a fisherman also. My daughter Alana and I run our retail seafood market that we built onto the house to sell their catches.
PM: What are some of the species of snapper and grouper you harvest throughout the year and when? Which species are the most popular at your retail business?
VH: We don’t target American red snapper here in Hatteras. The bottom here just isn’t right for them. We catch maybe two or three red snappers a year, usually in the spring. The vermillion snapper we see in the mid to late summer months. We also catch a few of the pink and silver snappers, which are really porgies. We catch black sea bass, triggerfish, sheepshead, snowy grouper, yellowfin tuna, tilefish, and mahi-mahi.
PM: What impact do regulations have on your business?
VH: The regulations are impacting the fish houses, restaurants and the consumers. We have had a lot of cutbacks in the snapper/grouper fishery and NOAA Fisheries have their eyes on the king mackerel fishery for quota cuts next year. Without the retail business, we might have gone under.
PM: What is your favorite style of fishing?
VH: King mackerel. When Robert started fishing, you could land 3500 pounds per trip. In those days, everyone was fishing for different things and that was a lot better than everyone fishing for one species at a time. King mackerel fishing lasted all of November and December and some years extended into January and February.
PM: What is on your mind?
VH: Every American has the right to access fish. I hope it doesn’t end up that the only the rich have that privilege. The commercial fishermen have little control over the fishing decisions; it is all environmental and politically driven.
Contributed by Pam Morris.