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Robert Leonard Christensen oral history interview

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Material Information

Title:
Robert Leonard Christensen oral history interview
Series Title:
Oculina Bank oral history project
Physical Description:
1 sound file (33 min.) : digital, MPEG4 file + ;
Language:
English
Creator:
Christensen, Robert Leonard, 1963-
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 former commercial fisherman Robert Christensen. Christensen began fishing with his father when he was a teenager and eventually began running his father's boat on his own. The Oculina Bank was one of their main fishing areas and the source of 50 percent of their income. The increasing regulations to the area had a negative effect on their fishing, to the extent that, in 1998, they had to sell their boat. After that, Christensen became a plumber and worked at other land jobs, including in a fish market. Christensen is opposed to closed areas but accepts limits, although in his opinion, nature sets its own regulations and limits. He does not believe that commercial fishing has a future in Fort Pierce due to the increased regulation; like him, many other fishermen can no longer afford to do it and are selling their boats.
Venue:
Interview conducted August 5, 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 - 027444190
oclc - 706076656
usfldc doi - O06-00037
usfldc handle - o6.37
System ID:
SFS0022053:00001


This item is only available as the following downloads:


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Oral history interview with former commercial fisherman Robert Christensen. Christensen began fishing with his father when he was a teenager and eventually began running his father's boat on his own. The Oculina Bank was one of their main fishing areas and the source of 50 percent of their income. The increasing regulations to the area had a negative effect on their fishing, to the extent that, in 1998, they had to sell their boat. After that, Christensen became a plumber and worked at other land jobs, including in a fish market. Christensen is opposed to closed areas but accepts limits, although in his opinion, nature sets its own regulations and limits. He does not believe that commercial fishing has a future in Fort Pierce due to the increased regulation; like him, many other fishermen can no longer afford to do it and are selling their boats.
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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
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text Robert Cardin: Hello.  Good afternoon, this is Robert Cardin.  Today is August 5, 2010.  Im interviewing Bobby Christensen at Dive Odyssea in Fort Pierce, Florida.  Im interviewing for the Gulf and South Atlantic Fisheries Foundation project with the Fort Pierce fishermen on the Oculina Bank.  Welcome, Bobby.  Would you please state your name and spell it for the record?
1
00:00:23.2
Robert Leonard Christensen: Robert, R-o-b-e-r-t, Leonard, L-e-o-n-a-r-d, Christensen, C-h-r-i-s-t-e-n-s-e-n.
2
00:00:35.7
RC: Bobby, where and when were you born?
3
00:00:39.3
RLC: I was born in Denville, New Jersey.
4
00:00:41.8
RC: Okay, and when?
5
00:00:45.3
RLC: Sixty-three [1963].
6
00:00:46.9
RC: When did you move to Fort Pierce, Bobby?
7
00:00:51.6
RLC: Well, we moved to Miami first.  We moved to Fort Pierce in 1970, seventy-two [1972].
8
00:00:59.6
RC: What brought you here?
9
00:01:1.9
RLC: My dad started commercial kingfishing.
10
00:01:5.7
RC: Okay.  Bobby, are you married now?
11
00:01:11.4
RLC: No.
12
00:01:13.5
RC: Have you ever been married?
13
00:01:16.3
RLC: No.
14
00:01:16.4
RC: Okay.
15
00:01:17.3
RLC: Close, but no. (laughs) No cigar.
16
00:01:18.4
RC: Do you have any children?
17
00:01:21.7
RLC: Yes, I do have a daughter; lives down in Pompano [Beach].  Yes.
18
00:01:25.1
RC: And how old is she?
19
00:01:25.9
RLC: She is twenty years old.
20
00:01:27.3
RC: Okay.  Bobby, how much schooling do you have?
21
00:01:31.8
RLC: Twelfth grade.
22
00:01:33.3
RC: Okay.  Do you have any other jobs besides fishing?
23
00:01:41.0
RLC: Well, I do now, see, because of all those rules and the regulations of all the situations I had.
24
00:01:48.6
RC: Well, thats interesting.  Well get to that.  But, I mean, what field are you in at this point?  What kinds of jobs youve had at this point?
25
00:01:58.2
RLC: Well, at this point, I work for Pelican Seafood.
26
00:02:0.3
RC: Okay, so youre in the fish market business?
27
00:02:4.9
RLC: Yes, Im still in the fish market business.
28
00:02:6.2
RC: What other jobs have you done since youve got out of fishing?
29
00:02:11.1
RLC: Plumbing.
30
00:02:12.1
RC: Okay.  Do you currently have a boat, Bobby?
31
00:02:17.3
RLC: Just a little play river boat, yes.
32
00:02:19.5
RC: Sixteen footer?
33
00:02:23.6
RLC: A fifteen foot Skipjack.
34
00:02:25.0
RC: Skipjack?  Okay.  Well, Bob, now Id like to talk to you some about the Oculina Bank.  How familiar are you with the Oculina Bank?
35
00:02:34.9
RLC: Way before they even called it the Oculina Bank.
36
00:02:38.6
RC: Whats the true name of the Oculina Bank, Bobbys Fishing Hole?  (laughs)
37
00:02:44.6
RLC: Yeah, it used to be.
38
00:02:46.5
RC: Why was Oculina Bank designated as an area to protect?  Do you know?
39
00:02:52.6
RLC: Well, to me, in my recollection, was they thought that everybody was tearing up the coral by anchoring up, which Ive never anchored up in there.
40
00:03:5.7
RC: Is there anything else you can tell me about the Oculina Bank, like what do you know about it?
41
00:03:12.8
RLC: Well, it was always a good place to catch grouper.
42
00:03:16.7
RC: What do you think about the closure of the Oculina Bank to anchoring and bottom fishing?
43
00:03:25.5
RLC: Well, it sure put a lot ofit put a big damper on everything, cause I ran my fathers boat and basically all the rules and regulationsall we could do was golden tilefish at that point.
44
00:03:37.2
RC: So, I guess, even with golden tilefish, he had to drive around it coming home?
45
00:03:43.2
RLC: Right.
46
00:03:44.1
RC: How did yall cope with that?
47
00:03:45.5
RLC: Well, that was a lot of fuel, lot of extra fuel burned.
48
00:03:49.5
RC: Has the closure of the Oculina Bank affected your fishing, and how?  I mean, exactly how did it (inaudible) you down?
49
00:04:4.7
RLC: Well, that was a good 50 percent of my income come from the Oculina Bank.
50
00:04:11.0
RC: Is 50 percent, youre referring to the grouper [and] snapper species?
51
00:04:16.6
RLC: Between golden tile and the grouper [and] snapper, yes.  Grouper.
52
00:04:19.3
RC: If anchoring and bottom fishing Oculina Bank was not prohibited, would you fish there?
53
00:04:28.5
RLC: Well, noI meanrepeat that one more time.
54
00:04:37.6
RC: If the Oculina Bank had never been closed and it was still open, would you be fishing there?
55
00:04:42.4
RLC: Oh, yes, 100 percent.
56
00:04:44.3
RC: And now, here we go: How would you fish for, and what?
57
00:04:49.1
RLC: Well, I used to longline cable.
58
00:04:53.6
RC: And was that for the groupers?
59
00:04:56.2
RLC: Yes.
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00:04:57.4
RC: How did you do that?  I mean, was that like on the peaks or out in the sand around them?
61
00:05:3.3
RLC: Actually, it was a flat bottom.  It was flat bottoms offshore the steeples.
62
00:05:7.7
RC: What kind of grouper live outside of the peaks there?
63
00:05:12.7
RLC: Well, yellowedge and snowy.
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00:05:14.3
RC: Okay.  Thats one of the first comments Ive had about that, so Id like to ask you a little bit more about it.  Some people talk about fishing right on the peaks.  Was it different species that took you to the bottom or outside of them?
65
00:05:31.3
RLC: Yes, yes.  The yellowedge were a deeper fish than the steeples itself.
66
00:05:38.7
RC: Right.  What, they just lived on the shelf bottom or something?
67
00:05:41.9
RLC: Right.  Its a hard bottom out there, a hard bottom.
68
00:05:43.9
RC: Okay, thats interesting.  So, would I assume that, like, theyre not really jammed up with the gag groupers and the stuff; they go off on their own?
69
00:05:54.7
RLC: Mm-hm.  Right, it seems like they stay together, you know?  They seem like they migrate by theschools of them.
70
00:06:0.6
RC: But, I mean, theyre not really interacting with the gag groupers much?
71
00:06:3.7
RLC: No.  No, you hardly ever catch them out there at all.
72
00:06:7.2
RC: Well, let me ask you this much: What depth were you catching them at?
73
00:06:9.4
RLC: Well, 360 feet of water.
74
00:06:12.3
RC: Oh, okay.  Well, that is definitely outside of the peaks.
75
00:06:15.3
RLC: Yes, yes.  Its about a good half a mile offshore to the steeples.
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00:06:20.5
RC: Cool.  And I heard you used the word snowies; is that also where youd fish for some snowies?
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00:06:27.3
RLC: Yes.  Different times of the year.  I know a little spot to go there, you know, in that depth.
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00:06:36.8
RC: Were here on the map; here we are. Were looking at the shallow water part of the closure, from the 0.80 line, the GPS line.  You remember that one?
79
00:06:47.2
RLC: Right.
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RC: That was inside the edge, and then the outside, and then theres that bottom out there.
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00:06:52.2
RLC: All right.
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00:06:53.2
RC: So, is that what youre referring to?
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00:06:54.7
RLC: Yes.
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00:06:55.2
RC: Okay, thank you.  Next thing, overall, how has fishing changed since you began fishing in the Fort Pierce area?  Youve mentioned rules and regulations; is that all that youve noticed changes in?
85
00:07:9.5
RLC: Well, the quotas, you know?  To meyou know, this might be personal opinionI think Mother Nature puts a quota on everything, cause you go out sometimes the tide will be running too strong, fish arent biting.  To me, Mother Nature put the biggest quota.  You know?  It seems like Mother Nature would regulate the fish.  You know, thats mine and my fathers opinion, and Im sticking with that.
86
00:07:38.0
RC: All right.  A lot of people feel that way.  Its a very valid point.  Bobby, have you had experiences with law enforcement within Oculina Bank, or just regarding the Oculina Bank?
87
00:07:51.9
RLC: No.
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00:07:53.2
RC: All right, Bobby.  Now, Id like to talk to you about your fishing history, specifically.
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00:08:2.8
RLC: Okay.
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00:08:3.3
RC: What was your earliest memory of fishing, and how old were youlike, fishing in the pond with your uncle or grandpa at the lake, or something?
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00:08:11.6
RLC: Well, I mean, when we lived out at Hollywood, Florida, I fished in the canals and stuff, until my dad met a gentleman that was a kingfisherman.  My dad bought a little kingfish boat and I used to go out with him on weekends.  Wed go hook and lining for kingfish, and I was probably about twelve years old when I started kingfishing with him on the weekends.
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00:08:33.2
RC: How aboutI guess you were much younger than twelve when you were fishing on the canals?
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00:08:39.7
RLC: Oh, right.
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00:08:40.4
RC: How old were you then?
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00:08:41.9
RLC: Six, eight, ten, right in there.  I was a little young buck.
96
00:08:45.2
RC: How did you learn how to fish when you were back in the canals and stuff; who taught you?
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00:08:53.1
RLC: Myself, trial and error.
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00:08:54.9
RC: Okay.  Now lets go up further in the future, here.  Do you remember a point in time, or what made you just decide to become a fisherman?  You know, like you see a big catch and your dad said
99
00:09:12.8
RLC: Yeah.  Well, when my dad finally bought a forty-foot swordfish boat, I used to go out with him, and then I started being regular crew with him.
100
00:09:25.1
RC: But how did you decide to just (inaudible) a job was there?
101
00:09:30.1
RLC: I justI loved the water.
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00:09:32.3
RC: You just knew thats what you wanted to do?
103
00:09:34.2
RLC: Right.  Yes.
104
00:09:35.3
RC: Okay.  When did you start work as a fisherman here in the Fort Pierce area, and how old were you here when you were fishing?
105
00:09:43.7
RLC: Well, I mean, I kingfished here when I was, you know, when I was thirteen to eighteen.  And then when my dad bought the Buckin Float in 1980, he swordfished it for a while and then we turned it over to a longline tilefish boat.
106
00:10:6.8
RC: So, you kingfished it first, you said?
107
00:10:13.7
RLC: Right.  Yes.
108
00:10:15.0
RC: And how did you fish for the kingfish?
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00:10:17.6
RLC: Well, we trolled with planers.
110
00:10:19.7
RC: Okay.  I guess you used the artificial baits, or the sea witches, or what have you?
111
00:10:29.1
RLC: Right.  Sea witch, mullet strips, whatever.
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00:10:32.4
RC: Spoons?
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00:10:33.2
RLC: Yeah, spoons.
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00:10:34.0
RC: That wasof course, you were fishing with your dad at that point; he owned the boat.
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00:10:38.0
RLC: Right.
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00:10:38.7
RC: He was your dad, and it was a forty-footer.  What brand was the boat?
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00:10:43.6
RLC: Number One, Key West Number One.
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00:10:45.2
RC: Was it a straight up forty?  Or was it a forty
119
00:10:47.1
RLC: Just like Joeys, thirty-nine.
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00:10:49.1
RC: A thirty-nine Number One?
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00:10:50.3
RLC: A thirty-nine Number One.  Overall, makes it forty-one, but its thirty nine Number One.
122
00:10:55.2
RC: Where did you go fishing for the kingfish when you began?  Can you show me on the map?
123
00:11:2.4
RLC: Yeah.  Right there, northeast grounds.
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00:11:7.0
RC: Northeast grounds?
125
00:11:7.5
RLC: Right in there.  You know?  (inaudible) straight out.
126
00:11:10.6
RC: (inaudible) this bottom north at 12, a lot of peoplecould yall fish at the fifty feet, too?
127
00:11:15.9
RLC: Yeah, we did that.
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00:11:16.4
RC: So youre fishing fifty to ninety feet?
129
00:11:18.8
RLC: Right.
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00:11:19.7
RC: Did you ever see any of the buoys?
131
00:11:21.3
RLC: Yes.
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00:11:23.9
RC: Up towards Bethel Buoy there?
133
00:11:24.5
RLC: Right.
134
00:11:25.3
RC: Okay.
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00:11:26.0
RLC: Like I said, he turned it over to a swordfish boat.
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00:11:31.5
RC: Well, let me finish the kingfish.  During what months of the year did yall fish for kingfish?  Was that an all-year job?
137
00:11:37.6
RLC: Basically all year, weather depending.
138
00:11:39.0
RC: Were you doing day trips, or were those like multi-day trips?
139
00:11:44.3
RLC: No, they were morning, come in afternoon, late afternoon trips.
140
00:11:47.9
RC: Like half, three-quarter day trips?
141
00:11:50.1
RLC: Right.
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00:11:50.9
RC: What do you think your average catch was back then with the kingfish?
143
00:11:55.5
RLC: Average catch, you know, itd be good to bring in 400 pounds.
144
00:12:1.0
RC: Okay.  And Bobby, do you remember where yall sold your catch at?
145
00:12:5.7
RLC: To Charlies Seafood.
146
00:12:7.2
RC: Ive heard that name a few times doing these interviews.
147
00:12:11.7
RLC: Yes.
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00:12:12.2
RC: Ooh!  Wait, Im lost here switching pages.  For how many years did you fish for the kingfish?
149
00:12:26.9
RLC: He probably fished for maybe a year before we turned it over to a swordfish boat.
150
00:12:33.6
RC: Okay, so you didnt really stop.  You just kinda, like, switched your effort?
151
00:12:39.5
RLC: Were talking about the one particular boat, right?
152
00:12:41.5
RC: Right.
153
00:12:42.7
RLC: Yes.
154
00:12:43.8
RC: Okay.  So, when do you think yall started to swordfish in the boat?
155
00:12:50.7
RLC: Swordfish?  Probably 19okay, he bought it in eighty [1980].  We didnt kingfish it long, so probably, like, in eighty-one [1981], eighty-two [1982], right there.
156
00:13:0.8
RC: Okay, so you fished for kingfish.  I guesswould that put us at, you think, 1970 until around 1982?
157
00:13:16.1
RLC: Yeah, basically, right there.
158
00:13:17.4
RC: And then you started swordfishing on, once again, the Number One.  How did you fish the swordfish?  What gear types and things?
159
00:13:28.4
RLC: All rope here, you know.  All rope, spool on top of the canopy, and handline drops in the barrel.
160
00:13:38.7
RC: But you did have a power spool for the
161
00:13:42.2
RLC: Yeah, right, it was hydraulics up top.
162
00:13:44.7
RC: Oh, a hydraulic longline spool?  Okay.  What did you fish with, like, squids?
163
00:13:54.5
RLC: Squid and mackerel.
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00:13:57.1
RC: Squid and mackerel, okay.
165
00:13:59.1
RLC: Squid and mackerel.
166
00:13:59.8
RC: And Bobby, who did you fish with?  Were you still fishing with your dad then?
167
00:14:2.0
RLC: Yes, me and my dad and my stepmother.  Yes.
168
00:14:3.9
RC: Lets namewhose thirty-nine Number One.  What was it called?
169
00:14:10.1
RLC: Buckin, B-u-c-k-i-n dash, Float.
170
00:14:19.1
RC: All right.  Im gonna ask you to show me on this map where it goes, but it doesnt really (inaudible).
171
00:14:24.9
RLC: Okay.
172
00:14:25.4
RC: Did you ever startwhat would be a shallow depth that you started at?
173
00:14:29.5
RLC: Well, were talking about, specifically, the swordfish?
174
00:14:32.9
RC: Swordfish.
175
00:14:33.9
RLC: Oh.  A hundred fathoms.  Yeah, 600 feet, 800 feet, right around there.
176
00:14:38.1
RC: So you start there by the Oculina Bank actually then, huh?
177
00:14:42.2
RLC: Yeah, wed start down south.  Down south.  We go out and make one set off West Palm Beach.  By the time we haul that gear back in the morning, were due east of the Fort Pierce Inlet, here.
178
00:14:54.5
RC: Oh, then youd steam home?
179
00:14:56.0
RLC: Yeah.
180
00:14:56.7
RC: What months of the year did yall do that?
181
00:14:59.2
RLC: Every month, you know, weather depending.
182
00:15:3.7
RC: Now, youd steam out one day, fish all night, come in the next day; was that more than twenty-four hours?  Yeah?
183
00:15:11.2
RLC: Well
184
00:15:12.6
RC: That would be
185
00:15:13.3
RLC: We left at
186
00:15:16.3
RC: You left at noon
187
00:15:17.5
RLC: Right. If we left at noon, went out there and made a set, wed be back in by dark the next day.
188
00:15:22.8
RC: Its like thirty-hour trips or something?
189
00:15:25.2
RLC: Yeah, usually did pretty good right there on our little set out there.
190
00:15:31.2
RC: And do you have any idea what an average catch was with the swordfish back then?
191
00:15:34.4
RLC: Average catch, with what little bit of gear we set, a thousand pounds was a good to average trip.
192
00:15:39.3
RC: Where did you sell the swordfish to?
193
00:15:46.0
RLC: Charlies Seafood, too.
194
00:15:48.3
RC: How many years did you fish for this swordfishI guess Id like to ask you on the Buckin Float?  How long did the Buckin Float fish?
195
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RLC: We fished for swordfish for probably three years.
196
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RC: So, say up till about 1985 or something?
197
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RLC: Right.
198
00:16:11.9
RC: Why did you stop fishing for the swordfish?
199
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RLC: Because we rigged it up for golden tile, for ground-line.
200
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RC: And with the ground-line, is that strictly golden tile?
201
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RLC: It was golden tile.  And you know, a lot of times Id go inshore and try to catch the groupers if the tide was running too hard offshore.
202
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RC: So you might get up in the morning and want to fish for one and actually have to switch to the other because of the conditions?
203
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RLC: Exactly, right.
204
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RC: When you did fish for the groupersyou said, When the tide was running hard, Id fish for the groupers.  Is that when youre referring that you would come in here and fish the Oculina Bank?
205
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RLC: Yes.  Id come inshore, yes.
206
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RC: Just for my information, lets say you were at 700 feet tilefishing, and there was four knots of tide.  You could actually come into here to 300 or 400 feet and there would be less tide?
207
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RLC: A couple knots, yes.
208
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RC: Big difference, huh?
209
00:17:14.3
RLC: Right, big difference.
210
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RC: So that was always an option that you might have to take?
211
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RLC: Right.
212
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RC: Okay.  So, that would have a big effect on you?
213
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RLC: Right.
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RC: All right.  I lost myself, here.  You stopped fishing for the swordfish to start tilefishing.  Did that have anything to do with the fish prices, or just safety at sea, or shorter trips?
215
00:17:39.7
RLC: Well, actually longer trips, because eventually he turned the boat over to me, and I used to stay out for five to seven days at a time.
216
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RC: Is that swordfishing or tile?
217
00:17:52.8
RLC: Tile.
218
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RC: Tile.  Im trying to understand the reason why yall switched from the swordfish to the tile, if it was market driven or (inaudible)?
219
00:18:3.6
RLC: I just think it was a change.
220
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RC: Just wanted to change?  Oh, Ill be damned.  Okay.
221
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RLC: Yeah.  It was a few boats doing it ahead of us, not too many, you know?  Seen what they were doing, so we got us a spool and cable, and took it from there.
222
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RC: So you had to get another spool in the boat?  The swordfish spool?
223
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RLC: No, we had to get rid of the swordfish spool and get a smaller spool for cable.
224
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RC: So, when you left the swordfish you went to the tilefish, and once again, how did you fish for the tilefish?  Cable longline, you said?
225
00:18:38.2
RLC: Yes, a eighth inch cable.
226
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RC: How do you fish the longline?  You want to tell me about the gear a little bit?
227
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RLC: Well, you know, its a hydraulic spool.  Youve probably got about three, four miles of eighth inch cable and you can call them gangions, I call them leaders.  Like I said, it all depends what the tide was, how many sets you can make a day.  I try to make three 700 hook sets a day.  Depending on the tide, sometimes you can make one set and that one set is gonna take you all day to haul back, so there you go with Mother Nature again.
228
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RC: And so, you use cable with the gangions.  What kind of bait do you use?
229
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RLC: Start out with squid, we troll for bonito on the way out, and amberjack; we used to use amberjack.  We mix it up; once you get going you mix it up.
230
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RC: Basically, anything that you can get your hands on. (laughs)
231
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RLC: Right.  Yeah, basically.  Yeah, it was amberjack.
232
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RC: Who did you fish with for the tilefish?  Was that you and your dad?
233
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RLC: Yeah, me and my dad, and then one day he just turned it over to me and thats when I used stay out in a little bit rougher weather than he did.
234
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RC: And, now, this is still the Buckin Float?
235
00:19:58.6
RLC: Right.
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00:19:59.2
RC: Where did you go to fish for the tilefish?  Could you show me on the map?  I know it only goes so deep, buthere off of Fort Pierce?
237
00:20:7.8
RLC: Id go down south.  Id go down south as far as Jupiter.
238
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RC: What, to where you felt the fish were?
239
00:20:17.6
RLC: Right, exactly.  You know?
240
00:20:19.5
RC: Was this also twelve-month fishing, year-round fishing?
241
00:20:26.3
RLC: Year-round, weather depending, yes.
242
00:20:28.6
RC: How long did your tilefish trips last, Bobby?
243
00:20:31.0
RLC: Well, hopefully, you can go out in two days and run out of ice, but they would average four-day trips, five-day trips right there.
244
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RC: So, say about four-day average?
245
00:20:43.4
RLC: Right.
246
00:20:44.1
RC: What would you say your average tripthe average for these four-day trips, what would your catch be?
247
00:20:50.6
RLC: Three thousand.
248
00:20:52.1
RC: Where did you sell your tilefishes?
249
00:20:57.7
RLC: Well, after Charlies Seafood there, I think we started selling to Inlet Fisheries.
250
00:21:5.1
RC: I noticed you said after Charlies Seafood.  What did Charliesyou just switch?
251
00:21:10.3
RLC: Its somethingthe old man, I dont know, something.  Maybe prices or something; Im not sure really what happened.
252
00:21:17.7
RC: So you just switched from one to the other?
253
00:21:20.6
RLC: Right.
254
00:21:21.6
RC: Okay.  You didnt keep selling to both?
255
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RLC: Actually, I think maybe Charlie (inaudible).  I think Ray Lowe or Steve Lowe
Steve Lowe was also interviewed for the Oculina Bank Marine Protected Area Oral History Project.  The DOI for his interview is O6-00014.
; Im not real sure.
256
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RC: You were in the catching end of it, huh?
257
00:21:32.5
RLC: Yes.
258
00:21:33.7
RC: Okay, Bobby, for how many years did you fish for the tilefish for the Buckin Float?
259
00:21:38.5
RLC: Well, lemme see here, we bought in eighty-two [1982], we startedprobably from eighty-four [1984] to ninety-four [1994].
260
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RC: Okay, say about ten years?
261
00:21:56.6
RLC: Right.
262
00:21:58.1
RC: Bobby, where were the groupers tied into this?  Did you ever catch the groupers using the Buckin Float?
263
00:22:10.9
RLC: Yes.
264
00:22:12.1
RC: We described that as tilefishing, but do all your tilefishing years involve the grouper years, also?
265
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RLC: Well, you know, the tide was too strong offshore Id go in and Id search for grouper.  Id start out here off of Fort Pierce and if I didnt do any good, Id just keep working my way north, just different spots, trial and error.
266
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RC: So, you might have done that in eighty-four [1984], and you might have done it in 1988.  That was hand-in-hand, the two fisheries.
267
00:22:48.1
RLC: Right.  It was an option, yes.
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00:22:49.7
RC: So, well call that thewell, you called it the bottom longline fishery.  Okay.  Im sorry.  Youve already explained that.  I guess now here we are at 1994.  Why did you quit?
269
00:23:1.2
RLC: Well, basically, there was thisthe only thing left to do was tilefish and, you know, I couldnt go into thenow they call it the Oculina Bank.  You couldnt go around it, you know, you couldnt go through it, youd have to go around it, you couldnt fish it.
270
00:23:22.3
RC: It made it more expensive to operate
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00:23:28.5
RLC: Exactly.
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00:23:29.3
RC: And you had less catch because
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00:23:33.0
RLC: Right.  No, that wasnt an option anymore.
274
00:23:35.6
RC: Okay, Bobby.  What did you do next?
275
00:23:39.7
RLC: (inaudible)
276
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RC: I mean, in ninety-four [1994] when thedid the Buckin Float continue to fish in other fisheries?
277
00:23:50.0
RLC: Well, we still tried to tilefish it there.  But eventually, there was so many rules and regulations that my dad had to actually put it up for sale.
278
00:24:0.5
RC: Okay, well, lets talk about the Buckin Float.  In ninety-four [1994], I guess, grouper fishing quit, you started going with the tilefishing, and your dad eventually sold the Buckin Float.  Do you remember about when it was?
279
00:24:23.8
RLC: Id say right there in ninety-eight [1998] he sold it.
280
00:24:27.0
RC: Okay.  So now, thats the Buckin Float.  What did you do after ninety-four [1994]?  You tilefished the Buckin Float up till ninety-eight [1998]
281
00:24:39.3
RLC: Right.
282
00:24:40.1
RC: And your dad sold the boat.  What did you do next?
283
00:24:43.1
RLC: Well, I had to go to some other trade.  I went to plumbing.
284
00:24:48.3
RC: Okay.
285
00:24:52.4
RLC: Just did different trades, whatever it would take.
286
00:24:55.4
RC: So thats ninety-eight [1998], thats twelve years ago, and for the past twelve years youve basically
287
00:25:1.8
RLC: Land jobs.
288
00:25:2.7
RC: Land jobs.  All right.  Thank you.  And back to your cable fishing: you cable fished the tilefish and then you would come in and cable fish the groupers, also?
289
00:25:23.8
RLC: Yes.
290
00:25:24.4
RC: And can you tell me aboutyou mentioned you tried to fish 700 hooks three times a day on the tilefish.  How would you fish the groupers?
291
00:25:33.3
RLC: Oh, the Oculina Bank, (inaudible) grouper fishing; I know I said a couple hundred hooks a half a mile at a time.  Just basically trial and error, you know?
292
00:25:44.2
RC: Okay.  Well, you said that 3,000 pounds was an average catch on your tilefish on a four-day trip.
293
00:25:53.5
RLC: Right.
294
00:25:54.8
RC: Did that include groupers, too?
295
00:25:56.6
RLC: Well, no.  No.
296
00:25:58.1
RC: What was a good grouper catch?
297
00:26:1.1
RLC: A good grouper catch would be a couple thousand pounds, but, you know, if you couldnt tilefish youd have to grouper fish.  But they werentit was a hit and miss with them, too.  Mother Nature, you know?  Mother Nature puts her quotas on it, I think.
298
00:26:16.1
RC: So if you took your 3,000 pound average, and on a four-day trip you might also have a couple thousand pounds of snowies with those?
299
00:26:26.1
RLC: Well, no.  Basically, no.
300
00:26:29.2
RC: It was one or the other?
301
00:26:30.0
RLC: It was one or the other because the snowies, you catch a stray one off there tilefishing, but youd actually go into where there wasnt golden tile, thered be just groupers.
302
00:26:40.2
RC: Go to where the groupers live?
303
00:26:41.7
RLC: Right.
304
00:26:42.8
RC: Okay.  Were doing good here, Bobby.  Now, Id finally like to talk to you about how fishing has changed in time in regards to Oculina Bank.  You know, theres been several different changes.
305
00:26:55.1
RLC: Right.
306
00:26:55.9
RC: So, Im gonna kinda read the law out and you tell me if it affected you.  In 1984, the Oculina Bankyou know, the small little areawas closed to trawling, dredging, and longlining.  Did this affect your fishing?
307
00:27:12.5
RLC: Yes.
308
00:27:13.6
RC: How?  In income, you mean, or area you could fish?
309
00:27:18.0
RLC: Yes, income.  It took so much to leave the dock.  I (inaudible) in fuel, and yes, it put a big damper on it.
310
00:27:26.2
RC: In ninety-four [1994], the Oculina Bank was closed, where fishing for retention of snapper [and] grouper was prohibited from, and prohibited from anchoring.  Was your fishing impacted by this?
311
00:27:42.0
RLC: Yes.
312
00:27:43.8
RC: Oh, thisI guess ninety-four [1994] is the one that affected you the most?
313
00:27:50.1
RLC: Right.
314
00:27:50.8
RC: Okay, so ninety-four [1994] is when the bottom longlining messed you up?
315
00:27:54.8
RLC: Yes.
316
00:27:55.6
RC: Okay, and then, in ninety-six [1996], anchoring was prohibited within the Oculina Bank.  Did this bother you; if so, how?  Did you ever anchor in there?
317
00:28:4.2
RLC: Well, its Oculina Bank.  How shallow does it get?
318
00:28:8.2
RC: Comes here to 180 about.
319
00:28:10.9
RLC: I used to anchor up at about 160. Id be anchored up out there: a tilefish day or a grouper day, you usually go in there and get out of the tide.
320
00:28:21.2
RC: So if you tilefished out here outside of it here on the map, youd actually have to drive around it and come in and anchor up?
321
00:28:28.3
RLC: Yes.
322
00:28:33.6
RC: Oh, so you went around it several times a trip, possibly?
323
00:28:34.8
RLC: Right, just trying to stay within the law.
324
00:28:37.3
RC: (laughs) We all try to do that, Bobby.  Okay, and here in ninety-six [1996] trawling for rock shrimp was prohibited in the area to the east of the Oculina Bank and to the north, you know, all the way out to a hundred fathoms into the north.  All that area was incorporated into the Oculina Bank HAPC [Habitat Area of Particular Concern].  Fishing was closed, all bottom long trawl prohibited in this expanded area, as was anchoring by any vessel.  Was your fishing impacted by these regulations?  Thats when they made it twenty miles longer.
325
00:29:14.0
RLC: Yes, definitely.
326
00:29:17.2
RC: Excuse me for the tongue-twister.  Okay, here were getting towards the end.  These closed areas, people call them marine protected areas [MPAs].  And when you designate a marine area closed to fishing, its being used more and more often; theres more and more of these MPAs being used as a fishery management tool.  What do you think about these closed areas compared to, like, other types of management?
327
00:29:49.0
RLC: Well, to me
328
00:29:51.5
RC: Would you rather see an area open with a limited number of fish you could take, or do you think this type of closing is better?
329
00:29:59.0
RLC: Id sayof course, open it with a limit, right.
330
00:30:2.4
RC: You would prefer a limit.  Okay.  All right, last question: Thinking ahead to the future, what do you think fishing in Fort Pierce will be like in ten years?
331
00:30:19.3
RLC: I do not think there will be any commercial fishing at all.  Itll be all sport fishing.
332
00:30:24.7
RC: What, just out of attrition or out of regulation?
333
00:30:29.6
RLC: Out of regulation, yes.  Everybodys selling their boats and they justyou know, a lot guys just cant afford to go out and do it anymore.
334
00:30:39.6
RC: All right, Bobby, that kind of finishes us up here.  Is there anything youd like to say, or is there anything else you need to say?
335
00:30:50.4
RLC: Well, me and my dads personal opinion on all the, you know, the quotas and the rules and regulations is Mother Nature, you know, does enough of this.  You cant catch a tilefish when the tide is streaming five knots offshore; it could be beautiful, the fish wont bite.  Mother Nature, I think, puts the regulations on it all, between the weather, the tide, and everything.  I dont think that we were overfishing them because Mother Natureyou could go out one trip, get 3,000 pounds; go out again, you go to the same spot, and not even catch a fish.
336
00:31:37.1
RC: All right.  And if youre not making money, a lot of people dont go fishing.
337
00:31:43.6
RLC: Right.
338
00:31:44.8
RC: So, economics kinda monitors the fishing, too.
339
00:31:47.1
RLC: And if thats your onlyif you grew up and that was the only thing you knew how to do, had a trade, everybody else had a trade and thats the only thing you knewI mean, it made life very difficult.
340
00:32:1.2
RC: This isnt a question to ask, but were your years back then fishing better than all of your life than you have now, you think?
341
00:32:9.3
RLC: Oh, yes.
342
00:32:10.8
RC: Just being on the ocean?
343
00:32:11.6
RLC: Right.  Yes.
344
00:32:13.5
RC: All right.  Excuse me.  Thank you.  Were concluding this now, then.