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COLT: LEGEND & LEGACY

LEFT TO DIE

THE MARK OF UNCAS

SCHEMITZUN!

USS NAUTILUS

CONNECTICUT

AS WE TELL OUR STORIES

BETWEEN BOSTON & NY

CONNECTICUT  & THE SEA

CRUSADERS & CRIMINALS

EAST OF THE RIVER

FROM HERE TO THERE

THE GREEN

THE NEW PEQUOT

SUBURBIA

A VILLAGE OF FISH & SHIPS

CRONKITE: The shoreline town of Noank plays a huge role in Connecticutís watery history.  Noank in the 1890s supplied more than half of the Connecticut  catch of lobsters and its fishermen helped start major fisheries far from Connecticut waters.

BENJAMIN RATHBUN (Retired Waterman):  Noank at one time in the 1800ís was the largest fishing port between Boston and New York there were a hundred men lobstering out of here in 1898, 1899, and schooners and smacks from here and Mystic settled in Pensacola in the wintertime and - and Key West Savanna,and those ports.  The fisheries down there came from here, didnít come from down there.

STEPHEN JONES (Maritime Author) Noank was a fishing and shipbuilding community both together.  Everything there, you could say, had something to do with the water. The guy behind me had been a lobsterman, you know, and the guy across the way was a harbormaster Öand then the guy over there across the street, he was building submarines, and the marine lab is right across the street, ÖThere was a gas dock in there that sold fuel to - to boats, and fishing equipment, you know, lures and reels and that sort of stuff, and advice and as you went down that whole street, you know, thereís a party boat fisherman 3 houses away from me Öand it was all like that. There still is a fair amount of that stuff that goes on there but more and more the people that are moving into it Öare people who have made their money doing something that has nothing to do with the sea but come for the ambiance, as they call it.

THE CAPTAINS RATHBUN

CRONKITE: Ben Rathbun and his son Franklin are descended  from a long line of watermen.

BENJAMIN RATHBUN (Retired Waterman):  My original ancestor in this country was a fisherman when they settled Block Island. The name is on Settlers Rock. And ever since then which is 9 or 10 - 10 generations --

FRANKLIN RATHBUN (Capt., Anna R Charter Fishing Boat): 10 generations.-- My family has all been, always been involved in water use in either fishermen or merchant    seamen or shipbuilders.

BENJAMIN RATHBUN (Retired Waterman): When I first started going fishing with my father we were lobstering and then we went dragging and then we went swordfishing and then we took charter parties out, sailboat cruising and stuff like that, worked on the cross island ferry. And so weíve made a living off the water. 

FRANKLIN RATHBUN (Capt., Anna R Charter Fishing Boat): I started swordfishing with him when I was 6 years old when we used to go out and commercial swordfish back in the last part of the heyday of swordfishing

When I was really young I just chafed at the bit to get on the boat every day 

BENJAMIN RATHBUN (Retired Waterman): Youíve got to be willing to work 7 days a week and work 80 or 90 hours a week. And some weeks  you make money, some weeks you donít. Itís like farming in the sense; but youíve got to be willing to get up at 3:30 in the morning or 3 oíclock in the morning and if you canít do that youíd better not get in the business.

FRANKLIN RATHBUN (Capt., Anna R Charter Fishing Boat): And the other part is also that every day it changes. You go out twice a day every trip is different, every day is different, the weatherís different, the tides are different. Nothing is ever the same.  Now a lot of it, my business, is corporate business, and they call-up and itís the entertainment business, itís not just fishing. 

BENJAMIN RATHBUN (Retired Waterman): Thereís a difference in mindset between a commercial fisherman and a charter boat or a recreational boater because a fisherman is looking at the longer picture. Heís got tomorrow. A charter youíve only got today. Thatís the only day youíve got.

FRANKLIN RATHBUN (Capt., Anna R Charter Fishing Boat): I donít see where I am gonna change.  I fought it for a while, wanted to do something different but I just could never take myself too far away from the sea.

BENJAMIN RATHBUN (Retired Waterman): At the time it was going on I would have gladly exchanged it with anybody but now that itís over, Iím glad I did what I did.  The sea is there and itís gonna be there for time immemorial. Thereíll always be a place for someone on the water.

BOTTOM-FEEDER BLUES

WTNH NEWS STORY ON LOBSTER DEATHS 

CRONKITE: After years of growth, the $15 million dollar Connecticut lobster industry is being threatened by a mysterious killer.  Dan Winchester has been a lobsterman since 1977.

DAN WINCHESTER (Capt., Lady Charm): Itís a job that you have to like to stay with it. Itís hard work, long hours, dirty work. I like it. I like doing it. Getting dirty, getting wet. Look at it out here. Itís beautiful. Where can you go and be in a place like this? Only here.

I was brought up at Marstars Dock in New London. My father ran that place and everybody went lobstering, myself and my two brothers. Weíre still lobstering.  The three of us are full time commercial lobstermen.

CRONKITE: In recent years, record-high lobster catches had been made in the Sound, attracting more people to the field. There are about 400 Connecticut- licensed part and full-time lobster fishers working the Sound.

DAN WINCHESTER (Capt., Lady Charm): When I got started full time.  After you got past the New London Ledge Light there wasnít any buoys until you hit the Race. Now, itís all buoys all the way out, right from New London Bridge, There are so many more fisherman and each fisherman fishes a whole lot more pots than they ever used to fish.   Every year it gets worse. Because to improve yourself you have to fish more pots and youíre just fishing against yourself. Itís more bait, you need more help, youíre working harder, longer and youíre not really making any more money.

CRONKITE: The Long Island Sound lobster fishery was declared a federal disaster area in January. Congress is presently considering disaster-relief legislation to help the Sound's lobster fishers and forresearch into the cause of the catastrophic decline. A parasitic infestation and a larvicide used to control mosquitoes are among the suspected causes.

As many as 90% of the lobsters in the western part of the Sound have died, forcing many state lobstermen to quit the business. .  So far, lobsters in the eastern Sound have been largely unaffected.

 


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