Long Island fishing industry takes a hit during pandemic

On Tuesday morning, commercial fishing boats sat idle in the water at the Montauk town dock—an uncommon sight, especially this time of year. But lately, it's become the new normal. 

Bonnie Brady, the executive director of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association, said that the majority of East End commercial fishermen, who are essential food production workers, are reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic. They've lost a tremendous amount of sales since many restaurants closed. 

"When the restaurants closed, we lost the market with which we sold our fish," Brady said. "We need to find ways to create markets, to create processing on the fly, long-term create mobile fish markets—anything and everything until we get our present system back in order."

Pot fisherman Jim Auteri, who catches lobster, was hoping for a banner season.

"My partner and I also own a charter fishing boat and that's been shut down. That's usually our spring money," he said. "Right now we're just loading pots and getting ready but we don't know even when we start catching, which we should start this week, we don't know if there's  any price for our product."

And industry experts say if there's no demand the prices will drop. Something that's already being seen in the stores...to the tune of $1 to $3 less a pound. 

"Flounder, sea bass—any fish that we sell right now is down in price," said Charlie Manwaring, the owner of Southold Fish Market. "And it's good for the consumer, bad for the fishermen."

Brady wants to work with the government to get sustainable food to people who need it. She's hoping to gain the attention of the president. 

"We are here, we are ready and want to be able to do our jobs for the country," Brady said. 

Working together during a time when people can use the extra help.


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