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Friday, March 18, 2011

Another year gone by.

It was just over a year ago I started this blog.There have been changes in the fishing industry as well as more significant changes for me personally.
The political landscape has changed with the election of a new governor.He has appointed a Commissioner of the Department of Marine Resources that will certainly be more responsive to the needs of fishermen than George LaPointe ever was.This is a welcome development for Monhegan Island lobster men as they may get more traps.Currently the limit arbitrarily set by Mr.LaPointe is 300.While the limit for the state is 800.As stated in my first article our trap limit was 600 on Monhegan.We had agreed to this limit years before a trap limit was implemented state wide.I hope this Commissioner will agree that the 475 trap limit that was originally placed into law is a minimal number of traps to make a living with.I can tell you with authority that 300 traps,especially with today's economy,is insufficient to even make a subsistence living.
After five years of lowered prices for lobster,higher bait and fuel prices,made worse by a punitive trap limit I have come to the end of my rope.I just spent my last dime to repair my boats engine.Only to have the same problem.I haven't had the money to properly maintain my boat for three to four years and have cut corners.Now I am hauling with the knowledge that my next breakdown will be my last.
My wife Katy and I are partners in both the fishing business and our summer business that has evolved from a pizza shop to a convenience store.The store has also been hit hard by the present economy.This winter we closed the store for the first time in it's history.The store lost money in the winter anyway as the residents didn't always have the cash to pay their bills.They would settle when they could so the fishing business would cover the store.I think it was two years ago that our business model should have been updated.We went along the same way as always till the bills overwhelmed us.
When the fuel to run the generator that produces the power for the Island went over four dollars a gallon the power district raised the rate to seventy cents a kilowatt hour from the fifty cents it had been.It wasn't long after that the price of fuel went back down,but the seventy cents a kWh stayed.We asked for a sliding scale but the power district couldn't figure that out.Though there are other utilities that do just that.We should have adjusted our prices up but they were already high.Tourism was also affected so our volume of business declined.Many people that came for the day packed their own lunch as the boat fare itself was substantial.The end result is a thirty-five thousand dollar power bill including the store and the household bill.Yes $35,000 (sigh).I don't really know the details as to usage since years of power bills went unpaid.So as a result we are in the process of selling our property on the Island to satisfy our debts.It's a race to sell before they put a lien on our property and sell it out from under us.
That seems counterproductive to me but that's just me.
It was three years ago we bought a second house in Rockland to house our son as he attended high school ashore.The options were to board him or hire someone to live with him.My youngest boy also went in to middle school as his needs weren't being met at our one room schoolhouse.After reviewing our school boards policy we decided that Katy should go in and live with the boys during the school year and I would stay on the Island as it was my fishing season.We rented the house the first year for five dollars less than the mortgage payment as this was what the market allowed.So the cost the first year was five dollars a month and taxes.The next August Katy and the boys went ashore for the school year.It was one of the saddest days of my life.
Katy had never had a drivers license so she took a driving course and got one.She then enrolled in college to be a social worker.Inspired by the rigors of raising my youngest son I am sure.It was some time in January that I got a power bill and instead of sending it to Katy I opened it to see how much power I was using.Understand in our house as in many others Katy did all the financial stuff.Me being a fisherman /lugger/laborer.She is very good at it.As I looked at the bills I had what I would call sticker shock.I reacted badly.When I spoke to Katy I said that she had ruined us.It turns out I was wrong.She had not ruined us.I did that when I spoke those words.She has not forgiven me though I've tried for a year now to recant and repair the damage those words did to our relationship.The end result is not known as no one can accurately predict the future.However I have downloaded the divorce papers as she has made it clear she does not want me living with her.The second saddest day of my life.
In conclusion;I sit here writing in a turmoil of conflicting emotions.Wondering as I often have through the years.What will the future bring?