Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More
A Rhode Island Family Keeps Sustainable Fishing Alive | The Last Trap Family

A Rhode Island Family Keeps Sustainable Fishing Alive | The Last Trap Family

– I don’t think people realize what it takes to catch the fish. (waves crashing against boat) – [Boat Hand] Keep
pulling, keep pulling. (gentle music) – Rhode Island’s the only state that fishes this way. In the 1800’s, there was 200 traps that lined the shore. We’re the last fishing
family that fishes this way. It’s very labor intensive,
it takes a big crew, and this year we’re
really short-handed. We’re like just getting by
sometimes. (water splashing) – The future is
definitely uncertain. (dramatic music) (waves crashing) (car radio playing) (car engine) (seagulls cawing) (nets being shaken) (footsteps) – No day has ever been the same. Well the weather’s gonna tell me what I’m gonna do, regardless. So, why even bother
to think about it? – My dad and I are really close. Sort of our own bosses. I handle a lot of
stuff that he doesn’t. My daughter’s
definitely Momma’s girl. She’s, like, really into it. My niece, she was working today. My functional tattoo
because I have it marked where our fish traps are. This time of year our
sets are off Newport. We go out to our set,
tow out three 30 foot work-boats and a skiff. The steam from Sakonnet
Point over there is about 45 minutes. You know, I’ve seen some
pretty awesome stuff out there. – [Corey’s Dad] Winds come
up a little bit Hudson. – [Corey] My dad
is really intense. You’d never get that
he’s 71 years-old. – [Alan] Yeah! – [Corey] His role
in this whole thing is making sure nobody gets hurt. Even on the calmest days,
people get clotheslined and like go overboard. – [Alan] Get lively, two
people in every boat. – [Corey] We get to our sites, once everybody gets
into their boat we row out to our
proper position. The Maria Mendonsa is the
65 foot, the mothership. We tie her up to the
head of the trap. – [Alan] Nice job! It’s a pass of fishery. The fish have to
swim into our net. Then, you follow
the coastline up. It’s a fairly
constant migration. – [Corey] The fish
hit the leader net and it’s a quarter mile long. And that leads them
into the actual trap, which visually it looks like
a giant lobster pot but, it’s the size of a building. And then haul by hand, basically we’re bringing
the bottom of the trap up. (dramatic music plays) – [Alan] Everybody knows, if
you’re pulling your own weight, twine’s attached
all the way around. It’s a team effort,
if you pull together, the twine comes up and
you catch the fish. – [Corey] We get closer
and closer to the big boat, and the fish are rising to the
surface, everything’s alive. Then we get back into
different positions, bail the fish from the
net onto the big boat. – [Alan] All set, lets bail! – [Corey] From the
trap to the boat we have what we
call the bull net. The bull net holds about
400 pounds at a time. Because the fish are alive, it makes it a very
green fishery, in that anything that has size
restrictions or just a quota, very hurriedly get
the fish on the boat throw them overboard
and they swim away, so we have very little to
no buy catch whatsoever, stark contrast to
some fisheries. – [Alan] We probably burn about
10 gallons of fuel a day, with a big boat,
which is pretty green. – [Corey] In the Spring
time we’re catching Scup. We usually take in 30
to 50 thousand pounds every single day. – [Alan] Beautiful! – [Corey] Once the Scup go by,
then we start catching Bluefish, Striped bass,
Sea bass, Fluke. Our catch can go down from 50
thousand pounds to 500 pounds, but the fish are usually
worth more money. Because we’re not making
a lot of money doing this, it’s like all of our
equipment is really old. Our overhead is so big,
some years we lose money. The expenses of
everything has gone up accept the price of fish. We’re still getting
the same price of Scup that my grandfather
got in the 1960s. People can make way more
money with two deck-hands and go chase the fish. We never know what’s
gonna happen but, if we survive one year
we can go into the next. (dramatic music plays) (seagulls cawing) (fishermen yelling) – [Fisherman] Now pull! (bells play) – [Corey] I started selling
our fish a couple years ago. I want the package of
fish to be perfect. I definitely feel the pressure, and if something goes
wrong it’s all on me. The fish come up
on a conveyor belt, we sort them by size
they go into boxes iced, and shipped off, mostly
to New York City. It’s literally the freshest
fish that you could imagine. My daughter’s definitely
really into it, she gets her hands
right in there. She sees it, like what getting
dirty and hard work is. I don’t know if the
next generation kids really knows what that is,
and her older brother too. When the kids were born I
brought them to work with me. They were here
rain, sleet, snow. Every baby carrier
ever known to man, the backpack, the bjorn,
they did it, so did I. – [Alan] This has been a
man’s world where men say whatever the- what they want. When she first came on the boat, half the guys can’t tie knots, and Corey grabbed the needle and just started
mending the twine, all of the sudden
the guys are like, “Oh, yeah she’s pretty
good, ya know, yeah.” And she’s strong, she’s
a good person too. I don’t have to worry about
who’s coming to work, with her. I get underestimated a lot. We’ve had some new
people come in, and they literally try
to do the job for me, where I’m hauling that
and reach in front of me to try to help me. Or people just coming down
buying fish from the dock, they’re looking for the
boss, and everybody, they walk right by me, and
all the guys are like, “Her.” But, day-to-day, as
far as our crew goes, I don’t even think about it and then when something
like that does happen it’s like, “Oh!” (soft music plays) – When we take the
nets out of the water because they get damaged
or they get really dirty, like all this is marine
growth that dries up and hopefully falls off. We fix the hole by
hand, mesh to mesh. I mean, to rebuild
one of these would be hundreds of
thousands of dollars. (sound of truck engine)
(soft music) – [Fisherman] Press the
wheel for one minute Alan. (sound of lever squeaking) – [Fisherman] Hold it, hold it. – [Alan] (groans) No day has ever been the same. Take it as it comes, then
the next day you show up and do it again. (soft music plays) – [Corey] My commute is one of
my favorite times of the day. That is my quiet time. It’s like a 30 minute drive, and I probably drive
like an old lady. I seriously think it’s one of the most beautiful
places on Earth. The light, it’s like just magic. There’s so much
stuff to look at. Quintessential, fishing
town New England. The salt of the Earth. I’d hope to think I’d
never take it for granted. You can say that I look
forward to this everyday. It becomes sort of this
fishing family with the guys. It’s simple but I think
that’s sort of like what life should be about, and I hope I get to
do it again next year. (soft music)

13 comments on “A Rhode Island Family Keeps Sustainable Fishing Alive | The Last Trap Family

  1. Loved it, great story, brilliantly shot…long may they continue this traditional and sustainable fishery. 👍

  2. Fascinating story. A true slice of Americana. These Folks need support to preserve this special way of living and fishing for their future generations. A beautiful film–magical.

  3. I don't think you can get more Rhode Island/ New England than that. I wish you calm waters, strong nets, and a bountiful catch.

  4. A romantic way of looking at the fact that fisherman are struggling because they've kicked the shit out of fish stocks for a lot of years now and the ocean is suffering. When I can't take a single cod, something's wrong. And it's not global warming and it's not the rec. fishermen. It's commercial boats raking up every damn fish in the ocean.

  5. A film that captures so much in so little time. Lovely work, story and people. 11 minutes of my life that I will play again. Thank you.

  6. Beautiful, lyrical film. I wince at the cruelty involved in any process that treats sentient creatures so callously, but until humans are willing and able to eat well without slaughtering living things, these small, decent endeavors are as good as it gets. I especially appreciate that they throw back any catch that is undersized or not intended. The father, at 71, is amazing, as is the daughter.

  7. Corey, Alan, Luke and family (families), this is such an awesome story, of an even more awesome family. Me and my girls have watched this several times; it’s both captivating , as well as fascinating. The stills of Corey with her children in a backpack carrier, as she works til her fingers bleed, bring tears (happy tears) to my eyes. The dedication and work ethic of this fishing family, is more than obvious, and having worked for them as a young man, I can tell you that nobody on this earth works harder than a Wheeler (Forrest). It didn’t take long, for me to realize that I couldn’t handle the workload (😎). God bless you all and I hope that y’all can continue to thrive AND prosper. It’s time for a price increase too! If the buyers complain, tell them to contact me and I’ll give them an earful. Then I’ll send them the link to this film…love, hugs and rock on!🤘🏻💕🤘🏻

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