Alex Todd is a 10th-generation fisherman from Chebeague Island, located about 10 miles off of Portland, Maine. Like many Maine fishermen, he has participated in multiple fisheries over the years, but because of changing regulations and trends, he now focuses on scallops and lobster. And word on the street is his scallops are some of the best around.
“Alex’s scallops are the cleanest ever. I usually have to pick through and scrape off bits, and it can be very time consuming. But not for Alex’s scallops,” says Togue Brawn, owner of Downeast Dayboat.
When asked about the future of fishing, Todd chuckles a little. He’s concerned, like many fishermen, about how he’ll continue fishing or diversify industries.
“Inevitably lobsters will take a down turn, and maybe others things like black sea bass will show up, but how are we going to get to them? How are we going to get the licenses and permits? Things have been so up and down that we are all kind of pigeonholed.”
When Todd was a 10-year-old boy, he wasn’t aware of all the permits and regulations needed to go fishing. Though, in those days it was a little bit more loosely regulated.
He talks about building his own scallop dragger and fishing in the summer for scallops in places he wouldn’t even think to look for them now.
“My grandfather was a welder, and so I learned welding from him. I went to the dump on the island and got old bed frames and shit and welded my own drag frame. I got some old cod ends, with no rings in them, for scallop bags.” He reminisces and chuckles and points out that the drag wasn’t even heavy enough but that he had fun. “I didn’t have a license, and it wasn’t even a season for scallops, but I found a few and enjoyed eating them with family. Sometimes a bunch of us kids would cook them up on the beach.”
Todd says he got the bug to go scalloping from his uncle. His uncle only scalloped for a few weeks — he went musseling most of the time — but those few weeks of scalloping were enough to get Todd hooked.
Today, Todd definitely understands the ins and outs of regulations and licensing; he is the chairman of the Scallop Advisory Council in Maine.
“He’s the kind of fisherman that can be totally opposed to something but can be completely reasonable and work with others to find an appropriate solution,” said Brawn of Todd’s council participation. “Other fishermen trust him to represent their best interests and share their concerns at the council. He’s the best.”
National Fisherman’s “Who we are” briefly profiles fishermen from fisheries around the United States.