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Title: Interview with Ronald Evans
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Title: Interview with Ronald Evans
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Language: English
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Subject: Fisherfolk
University of North Florida
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Funding: This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.
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Bibliographic ID: UF00006870
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location: This interview is part of the 'UNF Fisherfolk' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
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Resource Identifier: UNFFC 20

Table of Contents
    Copyright
        Copyright
    Interview
        Page 1
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        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
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Tape four; Melissa Adams, Wendy Myers, and C.J. Tyree are interviewing Ronald Evans on Hecksher Dr.
A. A
(Ronald)
... we can only a half hour before daylight and a half hour after. So were really only working half the
time. Then when you take all holidays, we just got ninety percent of them knocked down. Only major
government holidays and voting day. So we only really work half the time. Plus we have another three
months that the season is closed because the shrimp are too small and the big ones are making babies and
they're getting a little bit bigger. We done that ourselves just to keep the shrimp population going, cut that
back.
irrelevant conversation
(C.J.)
So you're restricted on the river on those days, can you go out in the ocean anytime?
(Ronald)
Again, the three months that are closed, you're restricted up to three months. Now with the net ban the way
it's working now, your nets have to be smaller than five hundred square feet out to a mile all the time.
Even if it's open or closed. That's at five hundred square feet closed.
(Wendy)
Are you fixing nets now?
(Ronald)
Yeah, I'm fixing (?) ripped it up. Wiped out about three thousand dollars.
(Wendy)
Just like that.
(Ronald)
Just like that.
(C.J.)
How'd it happen?
(Ronald)
Door stuck in the mud. It's sitting on the other side. One of them goes like this, which is nine hundred
dollars, this right here bent forty-five degrees.
(Wendy)
Wow!
(Ronald)
River right here, we're restricted only to about maybe a mile. From the Main Street bridge out. Now here
going out to the main (?) juncture is the last one until you go outside the (?). Any other one is, the
water's running too fast, or it's too deep. I mean you get like a whole channel this much, and we can only
shrimp in this much of it. Because we really can't shrimp in the main channel, because if the shrimp does
go through, then you got hangs and turns. We're restricted to three hundred yards from the shoreline. So
in this area right here, you gotta think, three hundred foot from each side of the shore, and that's the little
section that we can drag in.
(Wendy)
Right in the middle.
(Ronald)
Then you gotta think, there's crab traps, there's hangs. And the crab trap guy always moves his crab traps.
So where you go'd yesterday, he moved. Crab trap is almost the worst thing in the world to catch in the
net.
(C.J.)
So how long you been fishing?
(Ronald)
Not very long really, compared to these guys. I've only been doing it for like maybe eight years, full time.
But they've been doing it ever since they could row a boat.
(Melissa)
How'd you get into it.
(Ronald)













Messed up, married into it. Messed up. A-class re-factory bricklayer, and I have a diesel degree. Don't
help me at all here. The only thing they'll let me do to the engines is change the oil, I don't know enough.
Compared to them, I don't know enough.
(Melissa)
So your wife's family, they've been fishing forever.
(Ronald)
Almost. Ever since her father and mother and older brother came down from Tennessee. And that was
one of the first things he started doing was fishing.
(Wendy)
Tennessee?
(Ronald)
Yeah, they originally came down from Tennessee. Their nickname on the radio is "Hillbillies." You'll find
out that everybody has a different nickname.
(Wendy)
Uh-huh. My daddy owns an electronic shop and he does a lot of work on C.B.'s so ...
(Ronald)
You get your name by the way you are, who you are. And there's some real weird names out there. You
can't give yourself a name, somebody else has to give you one. And it sticks. Then it's the one you don't
want. Then after a while it's a point of, that's who you are, that's what your (?).
(Wendy)
Yeah, everybody calls each other by their nickname instead of who they are.
(Melissa)
What's yours?
(Ronald)
Ain't got one. Don't want one.
irrelevant conversation
(Ronald)
The folks that live here have been doing it ever since they could spit.
(Wendy)
He (Boo Simmons) used to do a lot of gill netting, but he can't do anything anymore.
(Ronald)
Nope, that gill net is a thing of the past now, and that is total stupidity. But, the people of florida said no,
so you gotta abide by what they say. Majority rules.
(Melissa)
So what's the difference in how many shrimp you're catching now, between now and then?
(Ronald)
Shrimp go in seven year cycles. So it's really hard to see. If you're constantly changing your shoe size,
you don't know how these felt better than those. Because you can't go back to those, it's old. You ain't
gonna like it, it ain't gonna feel too good. But we're constantly, they've constantly downsized us. From a
decent, to a big net, to a decent net, to a small net, to a smaller and smaller, smaller, smaller, smaller,
smaller,smaller. And it's really hard to compare 'em. Then your shrimp are on a seven year cycle. And on
your year that you done real good, you think "oh this is real good." Then the next year it's a lot more, but
you got a smaller net. Now how you gonna compare. It's hard to compare that.
(Wendy)
How many boats are in this fleet?
(Ronald)
Fleet? You mean family.
(Wendy)
Okay, in this family.
(Ronald)
Let's see, how many's here? Working at this time, one, two, three, four, five, five working here at this time.
And there's usually anywhere between two to three other ones that come by.
(Wendy)
They all come in here, leave from here and come in here?











(Ronald)
Yeah. This is more of a family run, that's the only way you can get into shrimping now is family. You
can't go out and get a shrimp license for in the river. You can't get it. It has to be handed down to you
from your father. Only if he had one. If he didn't have one, you ain't gonna get one. That's it. It's a
guaranteed job, guaranteed, guaranteed to drive you batty.
(Wendy)
Where do you, you just do shrimping?
(Ronald)
They used to do a little of everything. But now, everything is getting so technical, so restricting that...
Let's say if you take this boat out, put down like you was on 'em and go outside and go grouper fishing.
Unless you've grouper fished last year, and got five thousand dollars worth of grouper, you can't get a permit
this year.
(Wendy)
So if you don't do it you lose it?
(Ronald)
You lose it.
(Wendy)
Have you lost it?
(Ronald)
Yep.
(Wendy)
Don't have it now?
(Ronald)
Because then, last year wasn't a good year to do it. But then we got sidetracked on something else that we
made more money on. So now we can't do this, now we can't do this one, and this one and this one and
this one. Cuz we wasn't doing all of them.
(Melissa)
You'll never be able to get it again?
(Ronald)
Gotta show that you made that kind of money last year to get it next year. Only if you had the license
before.
(Wendy)
So if you lose the license, you can't show that you can do it again.
(Ronald)
Mm-hmm. A real bad sight.
(Wendy)
So you just do shrimping now?
(Ronald)
Well, if we do anything else...
(Wendy)
What else is legal, that you can do? I know you can't grouper.
(Ronald)
No, we can't go out and group fish and that gets so specialized now. It's like anything else, unless you do it
all the time, unless you paint paintings all the time, you go paint a car, you'll never get it right. "Well I
used to do it." "What do you got this run going all the way down for? It's like a manaquin going down."
You gotta so specialized. The difference between whether one rope is longer than the other on the net
makes a difference. Now I can't tell, but these guys can look at the net, the net comes up and say, "nope,
lines a little short." "Huh?" "It's a little short, make it a little longer." I go "how do you tell that?" "Well
see this little (?) over here, that's wrong, it's supposed to be over here." "Now how'd you figure that
out?"
(Wendy)
What do you do with the shrimp, where do you sell them to?
(Ronald)





3,3












To a major packing house. They go from here straight, well from here straight to trout river, then from trout
river puts them on the truck, and they go to the packing houses. Which that's where you get all your
shrimp from your big grocery stores and everything else like that.
(C.J.)
Do you sell direct too out here?
(Ronald)
Yeah. But really that's not a big business. If you get a few people that will buy all the time, that's great.
But you're shut down three months of the year too. And you'll never know what size shrimp you've got
until you pick it up and put it on deck. "Ooh, I got big ones today!" Pick it up put small ones down on
there, say "hmm, those are too small, I'm going to get in trouble. Better leave 'em" If they're too small, we
get in trouble.
(Wendy)
There's a size limit on them too?
(Ronald)
Yes.
(Wendy)
There's all kinds of regulations.
(Ronald)
Yes, yes. The latest restrictions just come out was, if you get caught the first time, it's a fine and ninty days
suspension of your license. Second time, it's a fine and one year's suspension of your license. The third
time it's suspension of your license and you can never get back on the water again. Within seven years, it
doesn't matter what kind of fine it was.
(Wendy)
Does it matter if there's just like a couple of shrimp in there that are undersized, or do they know that all of
them?
(Ronald)
Count. Count. You pick up so many shrimp, you take a pound of them, and you count them. How many
is in a pound. The higher the count, the more shrimp you got per count. The bigger the shrimp, the more
money you get. But if you get down to little pee-wees, which are small juvenile shrimp, youleave them
alone two or three months, and they're big. It don't take long for them to grow up.
(Wendy)
So how is catching popcorn shrimp be legal? Is that not illegal?
(Ronald)
Yes that is.
(Wendy)
Well, how do you buy popcorn shrimp in the store? Or in a restaurant, how do you get popcorn shrimp?
Why do you get 'em, not how you get 'em, all you do is order 'em.
(Ronald)
Okay, now I have, let's say forty count shrimp hit the deck. And I separate 'em, I take the big ones over
here and I put the medium ones here and I put the small ones here. Now all together, they'll be forty count
shrimp. But the small ones might run fifty, mediums might run forty, and the big ones might run twenties.
So it's a big difference.
(C.J.)
So you mix them together and they average forty.
(Ronald)
They average forty. But if the average is not right, then you lose money or it gets into real tricky stuff
about how many per pound per bucket. How many's the small, how many's the big.
(C.J.)
What three months are you not allowed to fish, or does it change?
(Ronald)
No, no it's set. I know April and May is at least. But that's the time that we don't catch anything anyway.
But we set that up ourselves.
(Wendy)
Is it three months consecutive, or is three months during the year?












(Ronald)
Three months consecutive. It'll let 'em grow up. If you constantly beat on a (?) it's going to die. But if
you let it grow a little while, it's growed nice and strong. It can take the beating.
(Wendy)
Real good shrimping right after the restrictions off?
(Ronald)
No. You gotta be real finicky. Then you haven't shrimped in so long, you don't know where there at no
more.
(Wendy)
Oh gosh, you gotta find 'em.
(Ronald)
The wind can change from one direction to the other and they'll disappear.
(C.J.)
The wind affects where they are a lot?
(Ronald)
The wind affects, year, tide, all that is contributing factors. One thing can change in those, and they're
somewhere else. The wind and the tide blowing in this direction, you're gonna catch them in these two
drags, and that's the only drags you gonna catch them the whole day. Then you gotta know which drags at
what time. A half hour is a variable between you catching a bucket and you catching a deckload.
(Wendy)
Do you guys, is this an ocean-going shrimp boat or do you stay in the river.
(Ronald)
This one yes. You one's big enough to be outside too, without being too bouncy.
(C.J.)
That big one down there is probably ...
(Ronald)
Yeah, the big one can go out. The (?) it keeps you from bouncing everywhere. But once it gets a
little bit bad, it gets real bouncy, and it's really not worth being out. The chance of you breaking, last year,
what'd we do? We broke a shaft in the wind, that was fun. All the nets were out and here we got...
(Wendy)
Don't have a wench.
(Ronald)
Winding the wench up by hand. Funtime! Then we had that outrigger, the shackle broke. So that rigger
went wham, and broke off. So here we go gotta straighten it all back out again, pull everything back on
deck, and then fix it. Cables break.
(Wendy)
This one's strictly river then, the small one?
(Ronald)
Yeah, that's strictly river. Small inland places. We're restricted to thirty-tive foot boat for inland.
Anything bigger than that, this just, this boat just does make, cuz it's documented thirty-five, it's just small
enough for inside and just big enough for outside.
(Wendy)
So anything bigger than this could not stay in the river and shrimp?
(Ronald)
Well, it's like anything, if it's too big, it's too big. If the restrictions say you must have four tires and you
have six, then you're in trouble, okay.
(Wendy)
Yeah.
(Ronald)
That simple. The old thing was thirty-five foot net, thirty-five foot boat. That sounded straight, sounded
easy, it was no problem. When the net ban went into effect, we were pulling a hundred foot circumference
net. That's how big around the front of it is. It's a hundred foot circumference, thirty-five foot.
(Wendy)
That's the depth?













(Ronald)
No, that's how big the top rope is. How long the top rope is.
(Wendy)
Now what are you doing?
(Ronald)
I'm trying to figure out where I missed this. I gotta do it again.
(Wendy)
What's the circumference now?
(Ronald)
Sixty-six.
(Wendy)
Sixty-six?
(Ronald)
Sixty-six foot circumference. It's real hard to take this amount of webbing and for you to know it's five-
hundred square feet. Unless you go and count every mesh in it, it's gonna take you the whole day. Unless
you count every mesh, you won't know if it's that big. So the Marine Patrol and everybody agreed if you
make it sixty-six circumference, that gives you leeway on what kind of taper you need to have. Whether
the tops bigger than the bottom, when the boats get out rounded, it gives you some leeway. A sixty-six
circumference net, the webbing is at four-hundred and eighty-nine square feet. So it gave you enough
leeway. The way we make ours, sixty-six circumference is maximum, so we make them sixty-five. Just in
case they stretch or pull apart. Just in case. Hundred foot circumference net was between thirteen hundred
square feet and sixteen hundred square feet.
(Wendy)
Really? That much of a difference?
(Ronald)
That much of a difference. And a hundred foot circumference net, we just got finished beating our brains
out and talking to them to get that okayed. That that was the legal one to have. Just fighting with
downsizing it to that size. Cuz there was a federal thing with the turtle shooter. Anything larger than a
hundred foot opening had to have a turtle shooter. Then by December, anything that size or bigger had to
have a turtle shooter. So federal said this is the size you must have, so the state said okay, that's the size.
So then we were restricted down to that size.
(Wendy)
But with the turtle shooter, you can't catch anything.
(Ronald)
That's a turtle shooter.
(Wendy)
We've seen that before. But you can't catch anything, everything just goes right out. I mean it doesn't
make sense to have a net with a hole in it.
(Ronald)
The closer to the bag the hole is, the more stuff will get out. A two mesh hole in the bag, everything will
get out. Everything. Crabs, everything. So there's a three foot hole right before the bag.
(Wendy)
Can you relocate the bag, or is it all strictly regulated?
(Ronald)
Bag has to be behind the turtle shooter.
(Wendy)
Can you um ...
(Ronald)
You can't put the bag in front of the turtle shooter...
(Wendy)
Isn't there a way you can throw the net and twist it or something and plug up the turtle shooter or
something?
(Ronald)




____________________________________________________7













If you plug it up before, nothing goes in the bag. If you plug it up after, everything goes out the turtle
shooter, it doesn't go in the bag. It's a vicious circle, vicious circle.
(C.J.)
How strict is the enforcement, do they check...
(Ronald)
Anytime. He can come up here, walk up here, get on the boat and write us a ticket.
(C.J.)
Do they check a lot? I mean have you been...
(Ronald)
Yep.
(Wendy)
How often? When was the last time you were checked?
(Ronald)
About three weeks ago.
(Wendy)
So about due again?
(Ronald)
Real close.
(Wendy)
Real close. Have ya'll ever had a violation?
(Ronald)
The restrictions are changing so fast that the marine patrol goes okay, now this is the restriction that we
have on the books. "When was the book issued?" "Two years ago." "Just throw the book away." No
joke.
(Wendy)
Do they keep you in tune with that, or is that your responsibility?
(Ronald)
It's our responsibility to keep on top, but it's to the point we end up telling them what the latest rule is.
(Wendy)
How do you know? Who tells you?
(Ronald)
We have to keep on checking.
(Wendy)
Just have to find out.
(Ronald)
Gotta find out.
(Wendy)
What is this you're doing with the chains?
(Ronald)
Making sure the bottom and the top is the right (?) Like I said, if it's off, just a couple inches to one
side to the other, it doesn't sound like much, but it's gonna make a difference. And I've seen it right here,
this boat dragging, the other boat in front of us, we have one basket, they'll have sixteen. That's a basket.
We'll have one, and they'll have sixteen. Right in front of us.
(C.J.)
How's that?
(Ronald)
You tell me. You tell me. As soon as you figure it out, tell me. I wanna know. It gets so tricky upon
where they're laying, on the bank, on a drop, whether you're dragging with the tide going in, the tide going
out. With the tide dropping at a certain time. An hour and a half after high tide or low tide. It gets a little
tricky and the only way to learn this stuff is to be out here.
(Wendy)
Experience.
(Ronald)
I mean,...













(Wendy)
It's like going to a college class to learn how to do it. You need a degree in it.
(Ronald)
Nope. The only way to get a degree is if you stuck on each finger with a catfish all at the same time. Slip
and fall on your butt on some hot jelly and it's stinging. Then you go "oh, that's what I did wrong." I could
tell you how to shrimp, but you'd never get it right.
(Melissa)
How long did it take you to learn?
(Ronald)
I haven't learned yet.
(Wendy)
Oh, you've just been here eight years.
(Ronald)
No, I haven't learned yet. I'm just finally being able to know how to put a net on without them double
checking behind me.
(Wendy)
After eight years.
(Ronald)
But then they're constantly changing what size the net is, what's restricted to go on the nets. They're
constantly changing that.
(Wendy)
So this is your boat? Or is this the other family's boat?
(Ronald)
This is the whole family's. Everybody chips in. If there's something to be done, oh, everybody can chip in.
(C.J.)
How many people, is this like extended family?
(Ronald)
One family lives here, this is lot in between that they own and another family's on the other side.
(Wendy)
So there's three families here that do these boats.
(Ronald)
That's really tough thing to say. Really, one, two, three, four, five, just five.
(Wendy)
Oh.
(Ronald)
You really can't do it by yourself. It's, you can't do ninety percent of the work by yourself.
(C.J.)
Is it like extended family, like you know, this person's ...
(Ronald)
Yep. Brother-in-law, sister-in-law.
(C.J.)
So there's actually one big family with five or like ...
(Ronald)
Well, it's you don't want to do this and have a tight family. Come over here in Jacksonville and probably
will never leave. They grew up on hard knocks, and that's they live. You won't get rich doing this. You
ain't gonna get rich. Now this boat is real nice. Looks awful big and awful expensive, if you ever knew
how long it took and how much time and effort to get to this stage. They started off with a kicker boat.
Rowing a little boat like that with oars is the way they started. They would get out of school and go run
crab traps. Wouldn't go play with everybody else, (?) they went to work.
(C.J.)
So this family has pretty much owned this section of land right here for ever?
(Ronald)
Yeah, that's ... No not really. But, that's just (?) You've gotta have this land now to be able to have a
dock to have it. The way price of land is right now is astronomical.












(Wendy)
Yeah, this is real valuable right here on the water.
(Ronald)
And if we didn't have it, we'd have to be tied into somebody else's dock, paying them dock fees.
(Melissa)
Has everyone in the family stuck with fishing?
(Ronald)
Not really. A few of them have moved off. But, big majority is. We have what, teachers, got a teacher,
and one of the other brothers works at the mills, paper mill downtown. It's something that, once it gets in
your blood, you'll never get it out.
(Wendy)
We've heard that before.
(Ronald)
Never get it out. Whatever you do, never get it out of your blood. Seem like I got a diesel degree, and all
this other stuff, but it don't help me at all around these people. They'll crank up a motor and be sitting in a
truck over there and tell me what's wrong. "Nope, nope, missing on number three cylinder. You better
check that spark plug that's been scratched." "How'd you know that?" "I hear it." "I can't tell what you're
talking about."
(C.J.)
Are you going out today, or are you just getting ready to go out?
(Ronald)
I'm just getting ready cuz Thanksgiving holiday is Thursday and the way they're going to work it is
Thursday and Friday is a holiday. So we only got Tuesday and Wednesday.
end of first side
(Ronald)
S.. you run back home and you fix it and then you go out again.
(C.J.)
How long do you stay out, about, on an average day? On a Tuesday or Wednesday.
(Ronald)
Daylight to dark.
(Wendy)
Daylight to dark.
(Ronald)
Or when we can't catch any. Whichever one comes first.
(Wendy)
What happens if you're caught staying out past dark?
(Ronald)
It is an hour before sunrise and an hour after sunrise.
(Wendy)
If you're caught after that limit?
(Ronald)
If you're caught dragging, in other words, if the net and the doors are still in the water, then you're
dragging. If you're dragging it trying to wash it out,
(Wendy)
Then that's okay.
(Ronald)
When he pulls up and sees you're washing it out, that'd be okay. But if he sees you're still dragging, he
goes "uh-oh, pick up." Starts writing a nice ticket. Biggest thing right now is that ticket. I'll do a day of
jail time, but that means I don't work for three months.
(Wendy)
One ticket?
(Ronald)
The way they've got it now is, it's not... The way they used to work it is withhold justification. In other
words, your not really guilty or not, I'll pay the fine and go home. Now no. You're guilty or you're




_______________________3 '











innocent. And if you get found guilty, that's one. You can only be caught three times in seven years, then
you lose it. You never get it back never get on the water. That's what hurts you.
(C.J.)
If you're out and they catch you, is it everybody on the boat, or just the person in charge?
(Wendy)
The captain.
(Ronald)
The captain is always responsible for everything that boat does. That is kind of a little safety catch. Now
if there's two people on the boat, and the captain gets caught for something, they put everything on deck,
and that hand takes the boat in.
(Wendy)
So if you just get caught, you can make the other guy captain and just work for him?
(Ronald)
Uh-uh. Uh-uhh.
(Wendy)
Well how does that, how can you work around it?
(Ronald)
You can't.
(Wendy)
You can't just make another guy captain of the boat?
(Ronald)
Nope.
(Wendy)
Why?
.(Ronald)
You can't get another person with a permit.
(Wendy)
Oh, the captain has to have a permit?
(Ronald)
The captain has to have the permit. Okay, even if the captain did not have the permit, whoever gets the
violation goes on his, on that permit. But for you to be able to get a permit, you can't.
(Wendy)
So usually there's only one person on the boat that has a permit?
(Ronald)
One person that can have it.
(C.J.)
Do you have to have, like there's three boats here, does that mean three people have the permit or you can't
have more boats than you ... Like if I have my permit, I can't have ...
(Ronald)
Oh yeah, you can have different boats.
(Wendy)
But you have to be on it when it's out.
(Ronald)
But you have to be on it.
(C.J.)
Oh really.
(Ronald)
You have to be there.
(Wendy)
So there's no need in having two boats if you can only go out on one.
(Ronald)
Uh, not really. Sometimes you catch good with this boat, cuz you need to be out there. Sometimes you
catch good in here, you need to be in here. You're not catching with that boat. But then you get two boats,




q6












two things to keep up. The way we got this one set up we can do both. It takes a little work to change it
over, but we can do a little bit of both.
(Wendy)
What's it set up for now?
(Ronald)
It's set up for strictly river right now. But for me to go outside, I just drop the outriggers, and put the
rowing chops out, go outside. If I want to put bigger nets on, I need to put bigger but I have to go on my
(?) Another catch twenty-two they got.
(C.J.)
Is there any regulations like of you go a certain distance of the coast if you're in the ocean?
(Ronald)
Oh, get ready for that. Certain distance you must have epurb, you must have life raft, you must have
signalling gear, you must have everything in the world.
(C.J.)
So there's no way of getting out of it by just going like out of the coast guard or out of the marine patrol's
jurisdiction?
(Ronald)
Nope, you come back and they go "hah, gotcha ya. Where's your epurb, where'd you catch them?" Well,
guess what, they just confiscated your whole trip. You didn't have this little sticker.
(C.J.)
Couldn't you get that stuff and then go out and do it? Or is that real expensive I take it.
(Ronald)
What you're talking about, the epurb sitting on the other side is twelve hundred dollars. Plus a twenty-five
dollar license you gotta have it on your boat.
(Wendy)
What's an epurb?
(Ronald)
It's a signalling device that sends a signal up to the satellite and they can find out where you're at.
Anywhere in the world, send it off, helicopter should be able to come right on top of you.
(Wendy)
What's an epurb stand for?
(Ronald)
It's a big long name on it. All I know is it's expensive, it sits over there and does nothing.
(Wendy)
The "e" is for eccentric.
(Ronald)
It doesn't get... It's made so when a boat gets sunk, it will automatically kick on. It'd turn on. So if you
ever go boating, your way out there, you get in real trouble, you have to go over, one of the things you
want to make sure you tie to your lifeboat, raft, is that epurb. Turn that sucker on. We've had it go off in
the river and the Coast Guard call us "now wait a minute, now what are you guys doing now? Turn it off."
(C.J.)
So you have one?
(Wendy)
It stays off the whole time until...
(Ronald)
Until it goes under water and automatically kicks on. But you have to change the unit that kicks it on and
you have to change the battery periodically. Battery's good for five years, and the thing that kicks it off is
good for two years. Now you gotta constantly keep that (?) Another restriction they just come up with
is the little light buyou that goes onto the raft right there. That's a hundred dollars. What does it do? It sits
there, in case she goes over, then it comes right out and the little light starts flashing. That's another
restriction. Gotta have that, gotta have that little weird looking ball. Now if you get caught out there
without that, and they can't see you within three miles, no matter if their radar is messed up or not, it's a
five-hundred dollar fine.
(Wendy)




_______________4_














What little ball?
(Ronald)
That little weird looking round ball.
(Wendy)
The one that's like not really a ball it's like...
(Ronald)
Yeah, it's a square.
(C.J.)
The white and blue thing.
(Ronald)
No, the uh...
(Wendy)
The black thing.
(Ronald)
The black thing.
(C.J.)
Oh, okay.
(Ronald)
It's a radar reflector. If you don't have that and they can't find you, they can't run up near you with the
radar, and all this doesn't reflect it, five-hundred dollar fine.
(Wendy)
Craziness.
(C.J.)
So do you have one of those ...
(Ronald)
Hey, I'm jsut getting started.
(Wendy)
Keep going.
(Ronald)
I'm just getting started.
(C.J.)
Do you have one of those epurb things?
(Ronald)
Mm-hmm. It's on the other side. Gotta have it. You gotta have it if you go more than three miles out,
needs to go with the cargo and you had to have it. Once you got it, it's not worth throwing away, it's worth
keeping. Cuz then you already got, you already bought it, you're paying the thing for having it. So it's
worth having on.
(C.J.)
So you can go far out in the ocean?
(Ronald)
We can go far out, but there's no need. Anything farther than five miles and you're not going to catch any
shrimp.
(C.J.)
Oh really.
(Ronald)
Then you need to be re-rigged for something else. Well unless you've got that...
(Wendy)
Further out's like frouper and things like that.
(Ronald)
Unless you got that...
(Wendy)
You can't go anyway.
(Ronald)
You can't go, okay. That's a catch twenty-two. (?)



____________________________________L^ __














(Wendy)
How long does it take to get out five miles?
(Ronald)
Depends on how fast you are. Boats can only go so fast. If it' s a speed boat, (?) But a shrimp boat is
not made to go fast. It's made to go slow and pull a big net. About the fastest one here is that one right
there. That just got a brand new two-hundred and twenty horse John Deere in it.
(Melissa)
And how fast does it go?
(Ronald)
It go about twenty-two knots. Compared to this thing wide open which is about ten, wide open. (?)
boiling, waaaaa! Your jet ski outruns it.
(Wendy)
What's a knot, how many miles per hour, about six miles an hour?
(Ronald)
Nautical miles per hour. It's like one point two five.
(Wendy)
Oh, that's all.
(Ronald)
Yep, it's just a tiny bit faster than a mile an hour. Just a little bit. But that's the difference between going
on the water and going on the land.
(Wendy)
Are shrimp mainly in shallow water?
(Ronald)
Nope.
(Wendy)
Deep water?
(Ronald)
Both. You just got to figure out when. What time. "Nope, the wind's blowing in the wrong direction,
you're on the wrong side of the river."
(Wendy)
I thought the net drags the bottom, why you put the floats on?
(Ronald)
So the net doesn't drag up the bottom as bad. We want to go to the bottom without digging into it. Now
sometimes the shrimp will dig into the mud. So we want to dig into it slightly and scoop 'em out. Then the
net comes along and just scoops them up. But if the bottom is real hard and got a bunch of stuff on it, we
want it to be just above it. And that's some adjusting and feeling and years of experience. Look up see
which way the wind's blowing, say "no, take two floats off." "Huh, how you know that?" "Trust me, I
know it." This is a crucial adjustment right here. It don't look it, but that pulls the top of the net.
(Melissa)
So you have to go through this every time?
(Ronald)
Every time I change the net. I'm to the point it's fairly easy now.
(Wendy)
How often do you change the net?
(Ronald)
Every time it tears up.
(Wendy)
How often does it tear up?
(Ronald)
Not too many.
(Wendy)
Thank goodness.
(Ronald)













Like I said, you're going along all of a sudden, plunk. Done wiped out three thousand dollars. Pick it up
and find a boat in your net. Done that too.
(Wendy)
So what do these nets cost three thousand dollars for?
(Ronald)
It depends on what the net's made out of. These are made of spectrum, which is nylon and kevlar. It's
thirty-two dollars a pound. To the point where you can get nylon, just strictly nylon which is like nine
dollars a pound. A little bit of difference in it in the strength. It's a big difference in the strength and how
thick the line is and big apart the webbing is.
(Wendy)
So all these are the nylon and kevlon?
(Ronald)
Nylon and kevlar, called spectrum.
(Wendy)
Spectrum.
(Ronald)
That's about the latest.
(Wendy)
Are these nets sewn together? Different nets pieced together?
(Ronald)
No.
(Wendy)
Cuz I see some that are different colors.
(Ronald)
That's where it's been fixed.
(Wendy)
Can you fix them yourselves or do you have to have them fixed?
(Ronald)
If you're out there and tears up, you want to fix them so you can keep on dragging and you can catch more
shrimp. If you don't have the right net on the right time, you can lose enough money to buy a new net in
one day. Buy that net that you don't have. That if you would have had it, you would have caught three
times as much. But it's hard to come off of two thousand dollars and invest it in a net that you don't know
for sure that it's going to catch. Then you gotta make sure you catch 'em. Real good never aim 'em
sideways.
(Wendy)
Lot of ice chests, do you keep your shrimp in ice chests when you catch them?
(Ronald)
That's about the best economical way to do it is to ice them down in ice chests. From there to the boat to
the truck all the way to the ...
(Wendy)
You get your ice chests back, they just...
(Ronald)
Oh yeah. Clean them out, gotta make sure they're ... Again we've got another thing after us with that too.
The F.D.A is about ready to come down on that too. What kink of ice chest you can have what's the
condition they're in. You really keep a track of it anyway. Cuz it's just like you putting your money in a
box...
(Wendy)
You don't want your shrimp to spoil, I mean that makes a lot of sense.
(Ronald)
What are you going to put your money into, a hole? Nothing out of your pocket. You're going to put it in
a real good wallet. That's the way we see it. Put my shrimp where I can keep it.
(Wendy)





_______________________________________________________U < 1












Yeah, it doesn't seem like too many people would just like keep them in the buckets and just like... I
mean that doesn't make any sense, doesn't make any sense anyway. I guess it would be dangerous if they
did.
(Ronald)
Then you get into food poisoning. Then you take the whole Jacksonville would be closed, just because you
did not ice it down properly.
(Wendy)
And that's why the F.D.A.'s coming down on it?
(Ronald)
Well, they're trying to come down on it because seafood had a bad reputation, now. And seafood does not
have a freshness dating on it. When you look at a fish, there's not a stamp on it that says Firday the
eighteenth on it.
(Wendy)
You just gotta know I guess.
(Ronald)
You gotta know. The only way to know is to have the experience. If you go to a fish market, you don't
know how old that fish is.
(Wendy)
Well, see a lot of times, don't fishes, I know mullet, if their eyes are cloudy they're not fresh. Things like
that you can tell, there's little tricks for each type of fish.
(Ronald)
You got to know what you're looking at, and to know what you're looking at, you gotta see 'em everyday.
What if he's a black mullet, brown mullet, silver mullet. What if he was caught with a (?) or he was
caught with a gill net, or caught with a cast net. They might look real different.
(Wendy)
How do you tell if, is there a trick to tell if shrimp are old or not real fresh?
(Ronald)
It's in experience. Unless you have a freshness dating on it, whatever I say. "They're brand new, I just
caught 'em today." Now you gonna believe me? Or would you rather have freshness dating on it?
(Wendy)
So the F.D.A's gonna try to get a dating on 'em? Something like that.
(Ronald)
Something like that. To keep track of when they came from. But that's just good common sense, again
like the gill fish. They have a (?) that they had to shut down for a while. Because the way the do
washkers is they have tag where it was got, when, and they could find out where it came from. So they
could shut down just that part, so they don't have to wipe it all out.
(Wendy)
Well oysters you're not supposed to eat unless there's an "r" in it anyway right?
(Ronald)
What?
(Wendy)
When there's not an "r" in the month oysters are not, your not supposed to eat oysters. I heard that. You
don't eat oysters when there's an "r" in the month. Is that true?
(Ronald)
No, it's just a wives tale, that's just a wives tale.
(Wendy)
I've always heard that.
(Ronald)
That's just a wives tale.
(Wendy)
So it's okay to eat oysters in May?
(Ronald)
Depends on when they were caught. When, who caught 'em. Does he take good care of'em? Did he ice
them down properly? Were they checked? Anymore they want to make sure that what you sell is good.




___________________________q s












Tell me I take better care of my shrimp than somebody else does, till somebody else decides to do one bad
cooler, and I'm shut down. You can't be shut down for ninety-days at a time, that, I eat more than that.
Once every ninety days now.
(Melissa)
Has that happened to anyone in your family?
(Ronald)
Not yet.
(Wendy)
Do you have kids?
(Ronald)
Yeah, I got one.
(Wendy)
How old?
(Ronald)
He's eleven.
(Wendy)
Think he's gonna fish?
(Ronald)
Hope not. Hope not.
(Wendy)
Do you take him out with you?
(Ronald)
Yep.
(Wendy)
Does he like it?
(Ronald)
Yep.
(Wendy)
Oh boy.
(Ronald)
Yes he does.
(Wendy)
Is that bad or good?
(Ronald)
No, no, that is really good because he'll gain experience that he'll otherwise never get. And the best
experience you'll ever get is messing up. If you know "hey, i goofed up!", how do I do it right the next
time? Once you figure out how to do it yourself, everything else is a breeze. But it's learning it, everything
else is not somebodygiving it to you. We don't want that that way out here. Unless you bust you r butt to
get it yourself, they ain't gonna give it to you.
(Wendy)
How much of the day do you spend doing this?
(Ronald)
Least as possible. End up knowing fourteen things to do all at the same time.
(Melissa)
So what do you guys do in the three months that you're down?
(Ronald)
Fix everything else that's broken.
(Melissa)
Fix everything.
(Ronald)
Fix everything else that's broke.
(Wendy)
So do you have another job, do you ...
(Ronald)




____________________V6___













1 don't right now, but a lot of the other people do have a job on the side that they keep going.
(Melissa)
What does your wife do?
(Ronald)
It's a good idea to have something to fall back on.
(Wendy)
Yeah it is.
(Melissa)
What does your wife do?
(Ronald)
She works at Revlon. When she was shrimping here, she was after school, during, when they would go on
vacation, it was no vacation for them, on the boats. That learning the hard knocks, it sounds bad, but it's
the best thing in the world.
(C.J.)
So the woman pretty much did the same thing as the men as far as fishing?
(Ronald)
You know, there ain't no men only back here. There ain't no sign that says women and men, uh-uh, I don't
see it in there. You got a hand, I got a hand, pull. You pick up the shrimp, I pick up the shrimp, you can
do the same thing I can do. I can teach these two girls to do anything on this boat. There's no label that
says they can't.
(Wendy)
Do you have many women that go out regularly?
(Ronald)
Yeah. But they're few and far between. This is not a glamarous job. You can't keep fingernails. These
fingernails get worn down just by picking shrimp up. When you do this all the time, that acts like sand
paper. During brownie season it gets to the point I have to wear rubber gloves, cuz my hands, right in here
will bleed.
(C.J.)
The what season?
(Ronald)
Brownie season.
(Wendy)
What's that?
(Ronald)
Just when the shrimp are outside and they're brown. And they're a little bit smaller. But the acid in the
shrimp does it. Shrimp has a certain kind of acid in it. The best thing in the world to clean your hands,
you got anything on them, boom, shrimp acid, whoo, once you get through two or three hundred pounds of
shrimp,you'll have clean hands. Won't have no finger nails, but you'll have clean hands.
(Melissa)
After you spend all your time your shrimp boat, you like to eat 'em.
(Ronald)
Not really. Nope. You looking at them little things all the time, no. I don't want to see 'em, I don't want to
know 'em, don't even want to think about 'em. Another big thing that's happening offshore is the shark
population has went up.
(Wendy)
What are they bad for, nets?
(Ronald)
Everything.
(Wendy)
Do they eat shrimp?
(Ronald)
Yeah. You stick that over the side, you'll see what they ain't gonna eat. But it's because cut out the shrimp
fishing. Now if a shark is hungry and he's used to coming here and eating, all of a sudden you ain't got no
food there, he's gonna keep on looking ain't he? Well all those people on shore going splashity splash, ohh



_______________________9 9













food. And they wonder why there's a big shark population. One of the latest things came through was
don't feed the dolphins if they come up next to your boat. Well, the dolphins are used to having the shrimp
boat and we scrapin over what's left and comin by and just pickin it up. Well, with these smaller nets, we
don't catch as much small fish. So they're still hungry. So you wave a little fishy, he's gonna jump. You
pull your finger back a little bit faster.
(Wendy)
So yu do feed the dolphins, they come up by the boat a lot?
(Ronald)
Yep.
(Wendy)
And they said fisherman were bad for dolphins.
(Ronald)
Fisherman are good. You'd be surprised what gets fed off the back of this boat. Birds, birds in general.
Pelicans, you gonna find a bunch of pelicans dead. Because we're not catching no more fish they can eat.
(Wendy)
Do you think a lot of the reason for the net ban was people who were scared that ya'll were hurting the
dolphins or the manatees or things like that?
(Ronald)
What scares you worse, showing a dolphin with net wrapped around him saying that fisherman killed him,
or a fisherman feeding a dolphin off the back of a boat. What would you show, you would show ...
That's exactly what they did.
(Wendy)
Yeah.
(Ronald)
That's exactly what they did. Get rid of all the fisherman, there's not that many in Florida. Wait a minute.
You'd be surprised, how many fisherman are here in Florida
(Wendy)
It's like ten thousand families that are, or a thousand.
(Ronald)
How much after market stuff after stuff we buy, just to keep the boats going. How much fuel the boats buy
per year. Just fuel to keep the boats running. How many families that counts for. The shrimp markets, the
people that buy the shrimp, the people that buy the fish. You get a decent fish now is going to be rare.
Cuz we can't keep them no more.
(Wendy)
And then the prices go up.
(Ronald)
Prices go up and then people to catch them eats first. They get too high and people get greedy.
(Wendy)
Have you guys raised your prices?
(Ronald)
The price of shrimp is as low as it's been for a long time.
(Wendy)
Why? Seems like the price would go up.
background noise
(Ronald)
Basically the way the shrimp prices go, if I have a amount of shrimp, you're going to buy them for a dollar
a pound. Wholesaler buys them for a dollar a pound, he takes and takes them to the retailer and says okay,
those are three dollar a pound shrimp. Retailer says "hmm, I gotta make a hundred percent profit and cover
everything, so there six dollars a pound shrimp." They only paid the boat a dollar a pound. Who's making
money?
(Wendy)
Retailer.
(Ronald)
Somebody is. Everybody else is.



q5 -














(C.J.)
When you sell them right out here at the street then, how much yo charging ?
(Ronald)
Depends on how big they are. The bigger ones, the more money, smaller ones less money.
(C.J.)
But you're cheaper out here than you are at the store.
(Ronald)
Oh yes. The stuff you'll see at Winn-Dixie for nine dollars a pound, we might get three. That's what
they're paying us.
(Wendy)
And they're fresh, they're a lot fresher.
(Ronald)
Yeah, they're still jumping. When I put 'em on the dock, I could pop open the cooler and you'll see them
still moving.
(Wendy)
How often do you have shrimp?
(Ronald)
About every time we come in.
(Wendy)
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.
(Ronald)
Tuesday evening.
(Wendy)
At night.
(Ronald)
Tuesday evening. But they're usually not open on Tuesday evening because it' s late by the time we get in.
(Wendy)
Do you just turn the sign around when you got shrimp?
(Ronald)
Yeah, but if they don't want to sell shrimp, they won't. After coming home from working all day.
background noise
(ronald)
We didn't catch enough or somebody bought too much.





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