The graying of the fleet, management missteps and a questionable future for the fleet were the reasons fishermen in Gloucester, Mass., gave for a bleak outlook during interviews that took place throughout 1970.

The peak years of the 1940s have led to a decline, including the depletion of the groundfish by large foreign fleets off the New England coast. The result is an international quota on haddock and yellowtail flounder and closure of certain fishing grounds during part of the year.

All but two captains saw the situation as practically unsalvageable without drastic government measures (which would arrive in the form of the Magnuson Act in 1976).

Of the 78 boats included in interviews conducted by Peter K. Prybot, most were built between 1941 and 1945. The total crew interviewed numbered about 372, and the average age was 43.

“My son isn’t going into this business. He won’t even see what the ocean looks like. Organ playing is going to be his business,” one captain said.

Jessica Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman. She has been covering the fishing industry for 16 years, serves on the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute's Communications Committee and is a National Fisheries Conservation Center board member.

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