USF Libraries
USF Digital Collections

Gary Mills oral history interview

CLICK HERE FOR SYNCRONIZED AUDIO & FULL-TEXT TRANSCRIPT VIA THE OHPI PLAYER ( Related URL )
MISSING IMAGE

Material Information

Title:
Gary Mills oral history interview
Series Title:
Oculina Bank oral history project
Physical Description:
1 sound file (38 min.) : digital, MPEG4 file + ;
Language:
English
Creator:
Mills, Gary L., 1954-
Cardin, Robert, 1960-
Gulf and South Atlantic Fisheries Development Foundation
University of South Florida Libraries -- Florida Studies Center. -- Oral History Program
University of South Florida -- Tampa Library
Publisher:
University of South Florida Tampa Library
Place of Publication:
Tampa, Fla
Publication Date:

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Fisheries -- Florida -- Fort Pierce   ( lcsh )
Fishers -- Interviews -- Florida -- Fort Pierce   ( lcsh )
Fishery closures -- Florida -- Fort Pierce   ( lcsh )
Fishery management -- Florida -- Fort Pierce   ( lcsh )
Fishing -- Florida -- Fort Pierce   ( lcsh )
Fort Pierce (Fla.)   ( lcsh )
Saint Lucie County (Fla.)   ( lcsh )
Genre:
Oral history   ( local )
Online audio   ( local )
Oral history.   ( local )
Online audio.   ( local )
interview   ( marcgt )

Notes

Summary:
Oral history interview with commercial fisherman Gary Mills. Mills, a native of Fort Pierce, began commercial fishing in the 1970s. The Oculina Bank was his primary fishing spot. It was where he learned to fish, and he was one of the most accomplished fishermen in the area. In 1994, when bottom fishing for grouper and snapper was prohibited in the Oculina Bank, Mills' business took a major hit. By 1998, he had stopped fishing commercially. In Mills' opinion, the regulations are the most restrictive to commercial fishermen, but the recreational sector receives very little attention. He points out that there are many more sport fishing boats, compared to only a few commercial boats. They are rarely inspected or fined, and the fines are much smaller than they would be for a commercial boat. For this reason, closed areas are ineffective. In this interview, he also recounts his personal fishing history.
Venue:
Interview conducted July 20, 2010.
Statement of Responsibility:
interviewed by Robert Cardin.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of South Florida Library
Holding Location:
University of South Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 027444127
oclc - 706077420
usfldc doi - O06-00034
usfldc handle - o6.34
System ID:
SFS0022050:00001


This item is only available as the following downloads:


Full Text
xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8 standalone no
record xmlns http:www.loc.govMARC21slim xmlns:xsi http:www.w3.org2001XMLSchema-instance xsi:schemaLocation http:www.loc.govstandardsmarcxmlschemaMARC21slim.xsd
leader nim 2200505Ia 4500
controlfield tag 001 027444127
005 20140204114032.0
006 m u
m d
007 sz zunnnnnzned
cr nna||||||||
008 110308s2010 flunnnn sd t n eng d
datafield ind1 8 ind2 024
subfield code a O06-00034
0 033
20100720
b 3934
035
(OCoLC)706077420
040
FHM
c FHM
041
eng
d eng
043
n-us-fl
090
SH222.F6
1 100
Mills, Gary L.,
1954-
245
Gary Mills oral history interview
h [electronic resource] /
interviewed by Robert Cardin.
260
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida Tampa Library,
2010.
300
1 sound file (38 min.) :
digital, MPEG4 file +
e 1 transcript (19 p.)
490
Oculina Bank oral history project
5 FTS
518
Interview conducted July 20, 2010.
FTS
520
Oral history interview with commercial fisherman Gary Mills. Mills, a native of Fort Pierce, began commercial fishing in the 1970s. The Oculina Bank was his primary fishing spot. It was where he learned to fish, and he was one of the most accomplished fishermen in the area. In 1994, when bottom fishing for grouper and snapper was prohibited in the Oculina Bank, Mills' business took a major hit. By 1998, he had stopped fishing commercially. In Mills' opinion, the regulations are the most restrictive to commercial fishermen, but the recreational sector receives very little attention. He points out that there are many more sport fishing boats, compared to only a few commercial boats. They are rarely inspected or fined, and the fines are much smaller than they would be for a commercial boat. For this reason, closed areas are ineffective. In this interview, he also recounts his personal fishing history.
600
Mills, Gary L.,
1954-
650
Fisheries
z Florida
Fort Pierce.
Fishers
Florida
Fort Pierce
v Interviews.
Fishery closures
Florida
Fort Pierce.
Fishery management
Florida
Fort Pierce.
Fishing
Florida
Fort Pierce.
651
Fort Pierce (Fla.)
Saint Lucie County (Fla.)
7 655
Oral history.
2 local
Online audio.
local
700
Cardin, Robert,
1960-
710
Gulf and South Atlantic Fisheries Development Foundation.
University of South Florida Libraries.
Florida Studies Center.
Oral History Program.
University of South Florida.
Tampa Library.
830
Oculina Bank oral history project.
4 856
u http://digital.lib.usf.edu/?o6.34
y USF ONLINE ACCESS
FTS
951
10
SFU01:002417495;
FTS



PAGE 1

COPYRIGHT NOTICE This Oral History is copyrighted by the University of South Florida Libraries Oral History Program on behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of South Florida. Copyright, 201, University of South Florida. All rights, reserved. This oral history may be used for research, instruction, and private study under the provisions of the Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of the United States Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section 107), which allows limited use of copyrighted materials under certain conditions. Fair Use limits the amount of material that may be used. For all other permissions and requests, contact the UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA LIBRARIES ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at the University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fowler Avenue, LIB 122, Tampa, FL 33620.


xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8 transcript
segment
idx 0
time 00:00:0.5
text Robert Cardin: This is Robert Cardin.  Today is July 20, 2010.  Im at the residence of Gary Mills conducting an oral history interview with Mr. Gary Mills for the Gulf and South Atlantic Fisheries Foundation project with the Fort Pierce fishermen on the Oculina Bank.  Welcome, Gary.  Would you please state your name and spell it for us, and your place of birth and birth date, and all that stuff?
1
00:00:23.5
Gary Mills: Gary L. Mills.  Gary Lee Mills.  I live at.  Born 7-2-1954 [July 2, 1954].
2
00:00:37.0
RC: Where were you born at, Gary?  Here, in Fort Pierce?
3
00:00:38.5
GM: I was born in Fort Pierce, Florida.
4
00:00:41.4
RC: All right.  Well, thank you.  Are you married, Gary?
5
00:00:46.6
GM: Yes, I am.
6
00:00:47.5
RC: How old were you when you got married?
7
00:00:48.6
GM: Twenty-nine.
8
00:00:51.6
RC: Did you ever have any children, Gary?
9
00:00:53.4
GM: Never had any children.
10
00:00:56.0
RC: How bout your schooling?  Did you go to high school?
11
00:01:0.0
GM: I graduated from high school.
12
00:01:2.7
RC: Okay.  Gary, I guess well start back in your younger life here.  Did you have any other jobs besides fishing?
13
00:01:13.8
GM: I was in construction right out of high school, and also, I worked at Piper Aircraft right out of high school.  So, between the two of those, I worked maybe five years in the two of those businesses before I started fishing.
14
00:01:38.0
RC: Have you had any other jobs besides fishing, in the recent past?
15
00:01:43.6
GM: Well, Ive done a little bit of everything.  I did concrete work.  Once I started fishing, I stayed with fishing, pretty much.
16
00:01:54.9
RC: Gary, do you currently own a boat?
17
00:01:58.5
GM: Mm-hm.
18
00:01:59.0
RC: What kind is it, and how big is it?
19
00:02:3.4
GM: Right now I just have a pleasure boat and a little shark boat: a twenty-two foot shark boat, and a seventeen-foot play around boat for the river.
20
00:02:18.6
RC: Now, Id like to ask you some questions about the Oculina Bank.  Seriously, I want to know how familiar are you with the Oculina Bank?
21
00:02:29.2
GM: Well, that was my favorite fishing place.  I mean, when I left the Fort Pierce Inlet to go fishing, there was no other place to go.  Thats where all the fish were.
22
00:02:42.5
RC: Well, Gary, do you know why they designated it as an area to protect and closed it?
23
00:02:46.7
GM: Well, I think it was because they felt it was a breeding ground, and they have exotic coral in there and they just wanted to preserve it, but they just couldnt preserve it.  They didnt have the resources to preserve it.  So, they just picked on the people that they could catch, mostly the commercial people.  They left the sport people alone.  They still fish it all the time.
24
00:03:15.0
RC: Well, is there anything else you can tell me about the Oculina Bank, like, you know, what kind of fish does it hold?
25
00:03:23.7
GM: Well, we started out bandit reel fishing, and we were catching snowy grouper to genuine red snappers and tilefish, and it was just the place to go, my favorite area.  When they cut me off from that, it just brought tears to my eyes.
26
00:03:54.4
RC: Sorry to hear that.  What do you think about the closures to bottom fishing and anchoring?
27
00:04:0.9
GM: Well, I dont feel that we hurt anything by anchoring up one or two times a day in there, the few boats that commercially fished it.  The shrimp boats were the ones that really made us mad from dragging out there, and really messed it up.  Plus, they caught all the juvenile fish that came inshore that were breeding there.  Wed watch em dump thousands and thousands of pounds of by-catch overboard every day.  So naturally, we decided, Well, well shark fish around these boys when theyre dumping, and we did quite well shark fishing; but we were laying the cable on the bottom, then they said that you cant bottom fish in there anymore.  So, that put me out of business again.
28
00:04:53.5
RC: Id like to back up a little bit.  You talked about youd only anchor on two or three spots.  Ive heard some fishermen talk about that they wouldnt place their anchor in the corals, that they were trying to fish the corals, not anchoring em.
29
00:05:5.9
GM: We did very little anchoring.  Like, if we spent the night, we would anchor it, on a hump.  But during fishing times, it was deep enough to where we just kept the boat in gear and fished by the LORAN numbers, and hold the boat right there, and send up to ten pounds of weight down and catch our porgies and stuff like that in that method.  We didnt anchor unless we spent the night.
30
00:05:38.6
RC: So, youd call that power fishing?  I believe thats the term thats used, power fishing?
31
00:05:43.1
GM: Yeah, power fishing.
32
00:05:45.1
RC: And then you said youd anchor up at nighttime so you could turn her off and go to sleep or something?
33
00:05:50.7
GM: Yeah, because there was such a long run back in.  Wed find a hump out there, maybe a twenty mile run back in to anchor up in eighty, ninety foot of water.  When youd find a hump out there to anchor on, itd save you fuel.  My boat didnt hold much fuel, and I didnt have enough fuel to stay two or three days running all the way in and all the way back out.
34
00:06:12.0
RC: Oh, really?  So, youd anchor on the hump just because it was a shorter distance?
35
00:06:18.0
GM: Way shorter distance, and many hours of sleep youd lose.
36
00:06:23.1
RC: Right.  Has the closure of the Oculina Bank affected your fishing, and how?
37
00:06:32.2
GM: Well, it almost shut it down completely, because thats where I learned how to fish, out there, and I was one of the few that was good at it.  When they said, You cant fish out of there anymore, I didnt know where to go fishing.  I could notI had a smaller boat.  It would not travel like the bigger boats would.  So, I had to just about quit fishing.
38
00:07:6.9
RC: You just about quit fishing?
39
00:07:9.3
GM: Well, I started tilefishing outside of the Bank, but that was only seasonal.  So, a lot of times of the year youd go kingfishing.  My type of fishing was out there in the Oculina Bank.  They took what I like to do and thats what I did.  When they closed it, it just broke my heart where I could not pull the kingfish in.  My body was getting old and it was hurting me.
40
00:07:43.0
RC: Without your bottom fishin.  So, when did your fishing career endor has it?
41
00:07:52.8
GM: Well, right now, my bodyI had a titanium knee put in, and that kind of shut me out of fishing totally, as of right now.  Five years ago, I had that put in.  Im still not fully recovered from that, and I dont know if I ever will be.  But, if you were out there doing the captains job, sitting in the chair, power fishing the Oculina Bank, it wasnt very hard on me.
42
00:08:24.0
RC: (laughs) Put you in a whole new world, huh?
43
00:08:28.0
GM: I could probably still be doing that right now, if it was open.
44
00:08:35.3
RC: Right.  If anchoring and bottom fishing in the Oculina Bank was not prohibited, would you be fishing there?  And you just said you probably would be.
45
00:08:46.0
GM: I would definitely be.
46
00:08:50.5
RC: So, I guess that was in ninety-four [1994]so, for the past sixteen years, would you have been doing it for the whole time, you think?
47
00:08:56.7
GM: Probably.
48
00:08:59.7
RC: How would you fish, and for what?  I think youve already said you power fished bandits.
49
00:09:4.3
GM: Bandit reel fishing was my favorite, and I did a lot of shark fishing with the cable on bottom.
50
00:09:14.4
RC: Its longlining youre referring to?
51
00:09:15.6
GM: Longlining.  I had five miles of cable that I put down, and sometimes youd be in the Bank and sometimes you wouldnt.  It just depended on where you felt the fish were.  But when they came out with this new law way back then, it was instant.  You didnt go there anymore.
52
00:09:34.1
RC: It just changed the picture overnight.
53
00:09:35.7
GM: I had to go find something else to fish for.
54
00:09:37.9
RC: (coughs) Oh, excuse me.  Have you had any experience with law enforcement within or regarding the Oculina Bank?  Like, were you checked out there, or have you been fined out there or anything?
55
00:09:52.5
GM: I was never stopped.  They came by me a few times, the Coast Guard.  Never stopped me or anything.  I abided by the law because they have such stiff penalties.  I didnt want to take the chance of losing my permits or getting a huge fine.
56
00:10:15.7
RC: So, I guess you mean you were never in the Oculina Bank?
57
00:10:20.2
GM: After they passed the laws, we would go across it to go tilefishing outside of the Bank.
58
00:10:30.1
RC: But you havent been trouble within it?
59
00:10:33.1
GM: I was never inside it, ever, in the Oculina Bank.
60
00:10:37.0
RC: Okay.  Well, now I want to talk to you about your fishing history, specifically. (laughs) What is your earliest memory of fishing and how old were you?
61
00:10:49.1
GM: Well, I got back from Alaska and worked on the pipeline (telephone rings) and my buddy called me up on a twenty-one foot Mako and we caught a 400 pound swordfish back in seventy-seven [1977].  And a couple of years later, we got a mackerel boat, a fifty-two footer, and put a longline reel on it and was one of the first ones to longline swordfish off the coast of South Florida here.  Then they outlawed that, so we had to find something else to do, which ended up being bandit fishing and kingfishing.
62
00:11:39.1
RC: So thats after that, swordfishing was closed?  Thats when you turned to the Oculina Bank?
63
00:11:43.7
GM: Correct.
64
00:11:46.7
RC: Was there ever any swordfishing in the Oculina Bank?
65
00:11:49.4
GM: We would start our gear under 600 foot and the Gulf Stream would pull it out of it.   So, in some instances, we would be in 550 foot, which, I guess, would be in the Bank now.
66
00:12:8.5
RC: Yeah, just towards outside of it.
67
00:12:9.8
GM: But by the end of the set, or the end of the night, the Gulf Stream had pulled the longline out of it.  We would be out 800 or 900 feet by then.  But there was instances that the swordfish line was in the Oculina Bank.
68
00:12:27.4
RC: Well, Ill be darned.  If we can go back a little further, like, did you start fishing in a lake with your grandpa?
69
00:12:39.4
GM: Earliest I can remember, I was probably about fourteen.  My brother-in-law bandit reel fished in eighty, ninety foot of water, and me and my brother would go with him.  His name was James Gibbons, and he was one of the few that did that back in those days.  We would come in with a variety of catch of snapper and grouper.  Wed spend the night every now and then, and dip net up squid and put em right on the hook, and set em right on back down, back when fishing was really good.
70
00:13:20.8
RC: How did you decide to become a fisherman?  I mean, can you remember a point in time when you said, Im gonna be a commercial fisherman for a living?
71
00:13:26.6
72
00:13:43.2
RC: So, that would have put you in the early seventies, [1970s] or mid-seventies [1970s]?
73
00:13:48.1
GM: That would have been, like, in seventy-six [1976].
74
00:13:53.8
RC: So you just, quick as you could, turn around and got your big boat going there?
75
00:13:57.2
GM: We got a big boatjust as soon as we caught that big one, we went home. (RC laughs) We talked to a boy from Montauk, and he had longlined the Outer Banks up there, north of the New York area, and he gave us some tips on what to do, and we followed his tips and started longlining.  Started out with five miles of longline, and ended up with thirty over the years.
76
00:14:33.5
RC: You kind of just self-taught yourself to go get em, just adapted to it?
77
00:14:38.0
GM: We taught ourselves and everybody around us.  Wayne Mullinix was my captain back then and he was an expert sailfisherman, and he was a good fisherman, and he introduced new ideas that we tried and they workedor they didnt work.  But we were one of the pioneers of the starting of swordfishing.  When they banned that, then we took our ideas to other types of fishing.
78
00:15:10.1
RC: Diversified.  Well, Gary, I guess you might have already answered this.  You said when you was fourteen, you started bandit fishing with your brother.  What did you fish for?  You said the snappers and groupers.  How were you fishing for em them?  You said it was bandit fishing.  Was that day trips?
79
00:15:29.3
GM: Rod and reel and bandits.
80
00:15:31.0
RC: And you were using your squid and stuff.  Now, who did you fish with?  Who owned the boat?  I know you said your brother did.  Your brother
81
00:15:38.0
GM: My brother-in-law, JamesJim Gibbons.
82
00:15:40.3
RC: He owned the boat.  Okay.
83
00:15:41.9
GM: He married my sister.
84
00:15:44.2
RC: What kind of boat was that?
85
00:15:46.3
GM: It was like a twenty-four foot Great White.
86
00:15:53.0
RC: All right. You said that was like ninety foot, you said, on the bar?
87
00:15:59.0
GM: Yeah, wed go out on the bar.
88
00:16:1.7
RC: On the map here, what is that?  Cause youre pointing at the Northeast Grounds, is that
89
00:16:6.6
GM: Yeah, Northeast Grounds, right off Fort Pierce, just straight north up to Bethel buoy.
90
00:16:12.6
RC: Okay.
91
00:16:15.1
GM: I fished so much around Bethel buoy, thats how the name of my last boat was named.
92
00:16:21.7
RC: I thought it was cause your wifes name was Beth?
93
00:16:23.9
GM: That also.
94
00:16:24.7
RC: Oh! (laughs)
95
00:16:25.9
GM: My ashes will be spread around Bethel buoy, because I caught so many of em they need to eat me back. (both laugh)
96
00:16:32.4
RC: During what months of the year did you all go out there bandit fishing?
97
00:16:43.0
GM: Well, the summertime was the favorable time, because it wasnt so rough.  The wintertime was always rough.
98
00:16:50.7
RC: Now, this was when you were fourteen fishing with your brother-in-law?
99
00:16:55.4
GM: I mean, the only time that it didnt matter was swordfishing.  We had such big boats; they were all fifty footers, forty, fifty footers.  Wed go out there in any type of weather all year long swordfishing.  But tilefishing, we had to kind of pick our days because of the weather and the current.  If the current was over four knots, you couldnt tilefish or bandit fish.
100
00:17:25.9
RC: Let me break this up a little bit.  So, when you were on the bandit boat as a young man, how long did those fishing trips last?  They were day trips?
101
00:17:35.6
GM: They were just one
102
00:17:37.1
RC: One day?
103
00:17:39.6
GM: One day, mostly.  Wed spent the night.  If we didntif we had a terrible night, wed go ahead and spend the night and fish the day.  We probably didnt have enough fuel to stay another night.  So, wed come in.
104
00:17:52.9
RC: And then when you were fishing the big swordfish boats, were those also night trips, daily night trips?
105
00:17:57.8
GM: Well, we started out with the forty foot boats, one-nighters.  And then we got into four to five nights.  The bigger the boat, the more we stayed.  We had bigger fish holds on the boatcarry more poundage.
106
00:18:16.5
RC: So, to say an average trips catch, that would vary between how many days you fished?
107
00:18:23.0
GM: Well, like swordfishing in the early days, wed average a thousand pounds a set.  How big was your boat was how many days you could stay.  Tilefishing, Id fill the boat up in one day, 2,000 pounds, 2500 pounds: that was taking real good care of em with ice and stuff.
108
00:18:44.7
RC: Now, is that on your boat, the Bethel?
109
00:18:46.4
GM: The Bethel was a two-day boat, maximum, because of the fuel.
110
00:18:56.0
RC: Where did you sell your catch throughout the years here?  Can you kind of break that down for a little bit?
111
00:19:0.0
GM: Well, Inlet Fisheries was my favorite fish house that I fished mostly for.  I fished for MMM Fish House a little bit, and Hudgens Fish Company some.
112
00:19:15.6
RC: So, all these were around all the way around from seventy-six [1976] till during the present?
113
00:19:20.2
GM: Yep, I only fished for those three companies the whole time, and they were all Fort Pierce located.
114
00:19:28.5
RC: Can you remember back when you were a young man fishing with your brother-in-law?  What kind of catches were yall catching thenyou know, poundage, average?
115
00:19:36.6
GM: Wed do 300 pounds of mixed snapper and grouper and porgnot porgies, but grunts.  Stuff like that, just junk fish.  But we were doing 300 pounds a night.
116
00:19:53.1
RC: Heres another thing: were getting a couple things both done at once.  So, lets say this: When you were fishing with your brother-in-law, how many years did you fish for the grouper and snapper with him?
117
00:20:1.7
GM: Only a couple.  He did it all the time; I just got to go when my parents would let me.  I was young.  I was, like, fourteen, fifteen.  Schooling and stuff like that; I was an athlete in school.  So, I didnt get to go with him all the time.  But thats basically where I learned how to do it.
118
00:20:25.7
RC: Why did you stop fishing with him?  Because you just moved to the bigger swordfish boats?
119
00:20:29.9
GM: Well, I dont remember if heI think I quit fishing with him when I graduated from high school.  I had to go looking for a job, which I went to Piper Aircraft in Vero Beach and worked there for a couple of years, and then was offered a job working on the pipeline in Alaska and learned a lot about fishing when I went up there, and really fell in love with it.
120
00:20:58.4
RC: Did you fish up there, too?
121
00:20:59.8
GM: No, I didnt, but I talked to a bunch of guys, like the Deadliest Catch boats, and was tempted to do that, but it was little cold for a South Florida guy.  Brought that knowledge back to Florida with me and used it to my advantage.  These guys had been doing that kind of fishing for a long time.  I did a little bit of fish trapping over in the Bahamas, which, experiencing Alaska, (inaudible).
122
00:21:38.8
RC: Did you learn about hydraulics and stuff in Alaska, or something?
123
00:21:41.7
GM: Well, it was just the traps, how to build the traps, how to set em and how to read the contoured bottom where the fish would be.  We were catching snappers and groupers in the fish traps in the Bahamas.
124
00:21:57.7
RC: Okay.  So, we talked about swordfishing a little bit, and you said you stopped that because it became illegal.
125
00:22:6.8
GM: They outlawed it, and I did not possess a swordfish permit.  So the boat owner, if he got any compensation, he didnt give me any.  So, I lost out totally to (inaudible).  They would go offshore that far.
126
00:22:26.0
RC: Who was the boat owner on the forty-five and fifty footers?
127
00:22:29.2
GM: Well, we hadHerman Summerlin
Herman Summerlin was also interviewed for the Oculina Bank Marine Protected Area Oral History Project.  The DOI for his interview is O6-00031.
owned one of the boats.  Richard Shearer owned one of em.  Most of these guys are dead, that I ran their boats, have died off.  Leland Curry was one of em.  Im trying to rememberthere was a boat called the Margie Tee I ran.  This guy was out of Illinois.  I just cant recollect his name right off the top of my head right this minute.  But that was thirty-something years ago.  Boo McCulley owned one of em, the swordfish boats.
128
00:23:11.5
RC: So, are you actually naming boats that you actually fished, like you capwent from boat to boat or something?
129
00:23:17.3
GM: I had, basically, a brand new boat every other year, or every year.
130
00:23:22.3
RC: So, people would build a boat and come to you and want you to run it?
131
00:23:24.6
GM: They wanted me to build the boat.  They bought the bare hull out of Key West and bring it to Fort Pierce and wed build it.  Wed take six months to build it, then wed fish it; and then Id get a better offer and a newer boat the next year, so wed build another one.  This went on for eight years.
132
00:23:40.7
RC: Man!
133
00:23:41.6
GM: We put some nice boats out there.
134
00:23:49.5
RC: Lets move up to fishing the Oculina Bank and the tilefishing.  Well, lets talk about the tilefishing.  What stopped you from tilefishing?
135
00:24:1.7
GM: Well, part of it was they made me go around the Oculina Bank to come home.  Im fishing out of Fort Pierce, so I have to go all the way down south, make a big huge U [turn] just to come home.  I wasnt allowed to go across the Bank.
136
00:24:20.6
RC: You were talking earlier about fuel, how much fuel
137
00:24:23.0
GM: And I didnt have enough fuel to do it.  I was putting a fifty-five gallon drum on the boat and then the boat got so heavy, it just wasnt worth it.  So, were looking at each other like, What are we gonna do?  We just had to quit.  So, thats when I went kingfishing.
138
00:24:43.0
RC: So, I guess Im making up my own mind here, but it soundslike, you built the Bethel to do the
139
00:24:52.6
GM: Well, I built it to tilefish.  And I had to cross the Oculina Bank to go tilefishing, and then they said, You cant cross it with fish on the boat.
140
00:25:4.3
RC: Okay.  I understand.  Youre set up to fish one way
141
00:25:6.7
GM: What do you mean I cant cross it?  Im not fishing the Oculina Bank. Well, we cant prove that you werent.  I said, Well, you got to prove that I did!  This was at the dock.  I was never stopped in the ocean or anything.  I would ask em when I got in.  I said, Look, I have to go around Oculina Bank?  This is what, ninety-four [1994], ninety-three [1993], something?
142
00:25:30.4
RC: Right, right.  Well, we had meetings in town for a couple years and all that.
143
00:25:34.5
GM: Well, finally they said, Well, we wont bother you, long as youdont stop, cause we got you on radar.  And I was in good standards with the Coast Guard here.  I mean, there wasnt that many commercial boats anyway, and I grew up with some of the guys that worked at the Coast Guard.  So, I would talk to em, and never, ever had a violation.
144
00:25:59.7
RC: Okay.  And then the snapper grouper fishing in the Oculina BankI mean, you stopped your bandit snapper grouper fishing because of the closure of the Oculina Bank.  So, that brings us up to ninety-four [1994].  What did you do next, Gary?
145
00:26:17.3
GM: Well, I started kingfishing and tilefishing.  We just had to do one-day trips.  Couldnt ever spend the night, Id be so low on fuel.  Caught a lot of kingfish, but it started wearing my back and arms out.  So, then we just startedwe did a little night fishing with rod and reels in eighty-foot and under, just trying to make ends meet.  And finally, it just got to where we went from $80,000 a year down to $20,000.  So, it was time to sell the boat, go back to work.  Thats how it played out.  (phone rings)
146
00:27:3.0
RC: So(phone rings again) were gonna stop this for now.
147
00:27:12.0
RC: All right.  Back here again with Gary Mills.  Lets see, we were atyou said you were from making $80,000 to $20,000 a year.  I think we were tying that in with the Oculina Bank closing?
148
00:27:23.6
GM: Right.  They also banned swordfishing, then they banned net fishing, and there wasnt a whole lot left to go try to catch.  Then they banned the Oculina Bank, and that really put a hurting on the old timers like me.  There was only a handful of us anyway that knew what we were doing out there.  We would hide from the other fellows, cause we didnt want to teach em nothing.
149
00:27:50.8
RC: Well, one thing we missed: What was your average catch when you were fishing with the bandit fishing rod at the Oculina Bank?
150
00:27:57.7
GM: Two thousand pounds a day.
151
00:27:59.7
RC: Whoa!  And that would be groupers?
152
00:28:2.3
GM: Snappers and groupers.
153
00:28:4.7
RC: Any other bottom fishes?
154
00:28:7.2
GM: Wed catch occasional cobias that would come up around the boat, and dolphin.
155
00:28:14.6
RC: I guess some people pink porgy fished it or something?
156
00:28:17.5
GM: I caught a lot of porgies.  Wed find em out there, a red blob on the bottom, didnt know what it was, sent a bandit reel down on it, power fish it, and just catch five at a time.  Then they said you couldnt do that anymore.
157
00:28:35.0
RC: How bout the amberjacks?  Did you do much of that out there?
158
00:28:39.2
GM: Thats where all the amberjack were, in the Oculina Bank.  You could go out there and fill your box up2,000 pounds in two hours.  That was a biggie catch.  They didnt pay a whole lot for them back then, but you could go out there in two hours and fill the boat up.  And then they said you cant do that.
159
00:29:6.6
RC: One thing we havent talked about here: You mentioned the net fishing; how did the net fishing tie in with your other fishing activities?  Was that just like a part-time thing or something?
160
00:29:17.7
GM: Well, it started out net fishing with big boats for Spanish mackerel and youd haul in 40,000 pounds when the season was in.  And everybodyd makeyou know, I think the smallest crew share would be over two grand, and the captains share would be ten grand per catch.  And then they outlawed that.  So, then we had to make a decision on, well, what are we gonna do now?  So, everybody put a longline reel on these mackerel boats and went swordfishing.  Then theyten years down the roadsaid, No more swordfishing.
161
00:30:3.1
RC: So, you all were darting and dallying back and forth.
162
00:30:6.0
GM: Theres a bunch of boats sitting around that decayed because of the laws made, and the fishermen did not get compensated, in my opinion, for any of it.  The owners of boats got a little bit of money.
163
00:30:21.3
RC: Jobs lost; people didnt get nothing.
164
00:30:24.4
GM: The crewspeople were just out of luck, and bad luck, too.
165
00:30:32.4
RC: All right, Gary.  Well, I think wed covered a lot of her questions here.  Finally, I would like to talk to you about how your fishing changed over time in regards to the Oculina Bank.  Since 1984, theres been several changes made in the regulations of the Bank.  Id like to know if these affected you, and if so, how?  Now, here, this original Oculina Bank here on the mapin eighty-four [1984], that became illegal for bottom longlining fishing and trawling and shrimping, this area here.  Did that affect you?
166
00:31:5.6
GM: Well, that wasfrom Fort Pierce, it was straight out of Fort Pierce, all the way north.  And that was where I fished, 100 percent.
167
00:31:18.7
RC: That was the ninety-four [1994] closure that did in the bottom fishing; in eighty-four [1984], it was no dredge, or no shrimp dredging, trawl, and no bottom longline.  Did the bottom longline affect you in eighty-four [1984]?
168
00:31:31.4
GM: Well, yeah, because thats when everybody went to shark fishing, where we had the best catches of our sandbar sharks, which were our money making sharks, was like 400 feet out.  And thats right there in the Bank.
169
00:31:50.1
RC: So, you got your legs clipped on the sharks in eighty-four [1984]?
170
00:31:52.9
GM: No doubt about that.
171
00:31:55.8
RC: Then in ninety-four [1994] is when it became no bottom fishing.  Of course, you stated that really affected you.
172
00:32:0.1
GM: That put me totally out of business.
173
00:32:6.7
RC: Then in ninety-six [1996], this whole area to the north became illegal to trawling and all that.  I guess that would have had no effect on you, would have it?
174
00:32:18.0
GM: North of whats on
175
00:32:18.9
RC: By ninety-six [1996], were you still fishing?
176
00:32:23.2
GM: I dont think I was in ninety-six [1996].  Id have to dig up some books to make sure; but I think ninety-eight [1998], for sure, I was 100 percent out of it.
177
00:32:39.0
RC: Well, Gary, you got six books, six log books sitting up there, right? (laughs) No sense in digging through them.  But wheres the Bethel now, the boat you had rigged up?
178
00:32:50.4
GM: It sunk.  One night, we just wasnt paying attention.  I dunno, I broke a shaft off and water was coming in, and we had a load of sharks on the engine box and couldnt get em off quick enough, and it rolled over on the side and went to the bottom.
179
00:33:15.0
RC: That was, like, ninety-seven [1997], or something?
180
00:33:18.0
GM: I think it was in ninety-eight [1998], ninety-seven [1997] or ninety-eight [1998].
181
00:33:23.8
RC: So, is that what ended your fishing career, or was it the closing of the Bank?
182
00:33:27.4
GM: No, I got another boat after that.  I kept my permits up.  But we just couldnt seem to make a living fishing out of the Oculina Bank.  Just couldnt make any money.  I mean, thats where the fish were.  I targeted that area on purpose because thats where the fish were.
183
00:33:49.1
RC: Okay.  Were almost done here.  The designation of marine protected areas is being used more and more frequently as a management tool.  You know, theres more and more of these closed areas going in.  What do you think of the use of that type of management versus, like, seasons or quotas or size limits?
184
00:34:11.3
GM: Well, I feel like theres so few permits that these guys either grandfathered in, or earned, or boughtthe commercial fishthat they should be allowed to fish out there all they want to.  If they want to regulate something, they need to regulate the sport boats that are going out there killing these fish by the trillions, and nobody even knows about it.  And if theyre doing studies, then thats what they should study: how many recreational boats are out there pulling fish out of that area that are.  If you have a commercial boat out there, they are calling the man on him.  Theyre pulling fish up every day, every single day out of this area.  And theres no commercial boats out there because the guys will callthe recreational boats will call and tell on em.  Its one-sided.
185
00:35:12.3
RC: Okay.  So, Im taking the assumption here that youreit sounds like you think closed areas dont work, or they dont work evenly or something.
186
00:35:22.7
GM: Theyre not working at all because theyre not checking any sport boat, and theyre a trillion to one to the commercial boats.  They should let the commercial boat, if he has a permit, go catch his fish.
187
00:35:40.1
RC: Thinking ahead to the future, what do you think commercial fishing will be like in ten years here in our area?
188
00:35:46.7
GM: I dont believe therell be any, unless they help the commercial fishermen out in some type of way, which I dont have an answer for that one.  But the sport boats are still catching the fish in that area that weve been talking about, and nobodys checking em.  So, if theres a decline in fish, in my opinion, its from the sport boats.  It has nothing to do with the commercial boats.
189
00:36:16.2
RC: Ive heard some talk.  If you manage one, you cut one group back and the other group just picks up their effort.
190
00:36:22.6
GM: Theyve never cut back on the sport fish people, never.  I havent even heard of anybody being arrested, fined, or anything in a sport boat, maybe but one a year out in the Oculina Bank being cited with a ticket for fishing illegally in the Oculina Bank.  But I mean, its very rare, and the fine would be a fifth of what it would be for a commercial boat.  Its not fair at all.
191
00:36:57.2
RC: All right, Gary.  I think that concludes the interview.  Is there anything that you can think of that we should have added?
192
00:37:3.5
GM: I think we ought to let em know that if theyre gonna regulate, then they need to regulate everybody: commercial and sport.  And if they cant do that, then like Arizona, youre gonna have people doing things that willwhenever they want to do it.  If you dont stop everybody, then youre just picking on commercial fishermen for no reason at all.
193
00:37:30.0
RC: All right, Gary.  Well, thank you.  This concludes the interview.