It was hard catching up with Yarmouth, Maine-based fisherman Rusty Parmenter. Reached by text in mid-April, he was hundreds of miles from his home port of Portland, Maine, and unloading Northern Gulf of Maine scallops in Gloucester, Mass.
In addition to scallops, Parmenter fishes lobster, pogies, tuna and also has hosted “a wedding, a bachelorette party, a bachelor party, tons of birthday parties, and a few Bruins playoff games” aboard his boat Patricia Ann.
The boat, a 43'x17' 1996 Bruce Atkinson with a 692 Detroit Diesel engine, which Parmenter bought nine years ago, is named after his mother. “I’m a mama’s boy,” he says. “It was previously owned by Tom Roth. At the time that I bought it, it was expensive for me. But in hindsight, it was a smart investment.”
Parmenter, like other commercial fishermen, has had to adjust to a new landscape since the covid-19 pandemic.
“We’re busy scalloping in Gloucester right now. We normally sell to a wholesaler down here, but with the seafood market facing big challenges due to covid-19, we’ve been peddling our scallops in Portland, Maine. Every day that we fish, we drive our scallops up to Maine. I partner up with my friend Alex Todd, and we share logistics to get the scallops there. We’re doing direct-to-consumer sales, and it is a ton of work but it has been worthwhile for us and for our crews.”
Under the name Casco Bay Scallops, Parmenter and Todd have partnered with Annie Tselikis to get their premium product into the hands of consumers as soon after harvest as possible.
When the Gulf of Maine scallop season quota is hit, Parmenter will be ready to go on other fisheries, as he has done since he was young.
“I have lobstered since I was 11. I started scalloping in 2001, pogy fishing in 2006, and four years ago I added tuna.” He knows how critical it is to be adaptable. “Diversification is key to success in this industry because you never know what is going to happen,” he says. “Being able to shift from one fishery to another is really important.”
Parmenter has made upgrades and improvements to his boat over the years, including redecking, putting in new lobster tanks, and reinsulating the fish hold. “At the same time, I rewired the boat and put in a new 9-kw generator.” He says his Simrad and Furuno navigational gear is critical. But beyond the useful gear, Parmenter also uses his boat to insert joy and fun into the mix.
“I hosted a Fourth of July party in January a few years ago. Tied up. In my slip. It made the news.” Parmenter affectionately calls his boat “short, fat and stout,” he says he intends to keep it forever. “I love this boat.”
HOME PORT: Portland, Maine OWNER: Rusty Parmenter BUILDER: Bruce Atkins YEAR BUILT: 1996 FISHERIES: Lobster, tuna, scallop, pogies HULL MATERIAL: Fiberglass LENGTH: 43 feet BEAM: 17 feet DRAFT: 5 feet TONNAGE: 24 tons CREW CAPACITY: 3 MAIN PROPULSION: Detroit Diesel 692, 300-hp GEARBOX: ZF 3:1 PROPELLER: Bronze SHAFT: 2.25-inch stainless steel CRUISE SPEED: 8 knots FUEL CAPACITY: 500 gallons HOLD CAPACITY: 20,000 pounds ELECTRONICS: Simrad, Furuno