Guest Column: A bleak future for fishing in Greenport

04/27/2014 7:00 AM |
Katharine Schroeder File Photo

Credit: Katharine Schroeder, file

It’s Thursday morning and I like to go to the Sterlington and have coffee and read the paper. There are several articles on the fishing village of Greenport.

I am a commercial fisherman, and to be honest, it raises my blood pressure and turns my stomach that Greenport claims the fame as a fishing port. Unfortunately, it seems the village is more interested in being called a fishing village than actually being one.

The fact of the matter is, village government has never made it easy for a commercial fishing boat to actually work out of the village. They have a commercial dock but don’t allow fish boxes there. Get that? No unloading. No fueling. No gear on the dock.

Those are the rules — in a fishing village.

There are fewer boats than in the past and the dock is empty at times, in part because fishermen have found it too difficult to deal with how they are treated here. Last year, the village took rent from five large commercial boats and did not have the room for them if they all came to port at once. Remember, part of the side of the dock is gone to a tourist attraction — against the county’s wishes.

One of The Suffolk Times’ articles claims the boats were a common sight but now they go south to warmer waters to follow schools of fish. You believe that and I will sell you a fireboat! There are no fishing boats there because of the village government. Their idea of a working waterfront is tourists putting dollar bills into an empty fire extinguisher. Not to beat a dead horse, the fireboat is a cool boat, it’s just at the wrong location and might be a liability to all residents.

So far, some of us who try to help the village, not as enemies, might be the only friends the village will have when things go real bad. We are now paying a price, and I’m not the only one. I pay the rent promptly when the application comes, and so I’ve noticed my check has not been cashed for more than a month now. I called and asked if it was received and was told it wasn’t deposited. I guess I could go to a Village Board meeting and stand at a podium and look at all the trustees and ask what, exactly, is going on.

But I know from experience I will not get an answer. That’s the way they run the meetings, so why waste your time?

So, I’m left to wonder, what does the wonderful fishing village have up its sleeves now to get us off the dock by not cashing our checks?

I had a letter drafted from an attorney last year after I was asked to move my boat. I chose not to submit it. It won’t do any good.

So, Greenport calls itself a fishing village. But being one, it is not.

pofish19Sidney Smith is the captain and owner of the fishing vessel Merit, which is entering its 18th year in Greenport. He is a third generation resident fisherman.