Meet Glen LeGeyt Captain of the FV Tricia Lynn, a Cape Cod fisherman, and father of a 16-year-old son. For years, Glen was primarily a groundfisherman. But when the groundfishing regulations changed 10 to 15 years ago, it forced him to diversify his business and fish for other catch. He started with a scalloping license for state waters, but even that has been over-regulated and now the catch has been reduced to 200 pounds a day. According to LeGeyt, “On most days, I catch half that if I’m lucky.”
This spring LeGeyt was lucky – when the CDP held a lottery to sell one of its extra Federal scallop permits and he won.
How did the CDP secure a Federal Scallop permit in the first place? Several years ago federal fishing regulations changed so that scallopers had to own scallop quota, often referred to as shares. In an effort to ensure that the Cape’s day boat fishing fleet would have access to quota, the Cape Cod Commercial Fisherman’s Alliance (CCCFA) and the CDP purchased quota to create a permit bank. With the quota came more permits than were needed, so the CDP decided to sell an extra permit but in a way that would ensure it helped create a new business and would stay on the Cape.
Unlike LeGeyt’s state permit, this federal permit allows scallop fishermen to fish in federal waters— three miles beyond the coastline. Federal permits are highly coveted as the scallops in federal waters are far more bountiful. In order to purchase or lease a quota, however, a permit is required.
When the CDP held the lottery, applicants were required to meet the eligibility requirements which include proof of residence on Cape Cod for five or more years, proof that you own a boat or will purchase one within 12 months of getting the permit. Applicants also had to have previous experience as a scallop fisherman. LeGeyt learned about the lottery through CCCFA. Federal licenses are hard to find and very rarely make it to the open market. When a fisherman gets out of the business their permit is quickly sold or passed on to another fisherman.
Fishing regulations have put a great strain on fishermen and required them to become much more sophisticated business people. Many fishing businesses have not survived due to the decrease in stocks and the complicated regulatory environment.
“I can tell you the names of every single fisherman on Cape Cod - that is how few are left,” says LeGeyt.
This permit, which triples the quota to 600 pounds, would essentially double LeGeyt’s income. “If I fish half as hard as I fish now, my yearly income should double with any luck,” notes LeGeyt. He has a day boat with three guys and says “It’s going to help my family tremendously. I’ll be able to make a profit rather than just survive.”