After the unprecedented, catastrophic die-off of American lobster in Long Island Sound, a CT DEEP study found that 70% of lobstermen between Greenwich and Norwalk lost 100% of their income. The remaining 30% had losses ranging from 30-90%. Most of these men had decades of experience fishing and had to find new means to support themselves. The study also documented significant social, economic and psychological damage to fishing families and communities.
Over a 72-hour period, after remnants of Hurricane Floyd passed over the northeast, nearly ever trap hauled from the water was full of dead lobster. An entire industry, a regional staple, and a way of life were swept away without warning.
Since the collapse of the CT/NY lobster industry, Maine and Canada have taken over as the main suppliers of lobsters in the region. Local markets and restaurants who used to get their supply off shore, now outsource.
When I learned of the lobster die-off, I set out to find any remaining lobstermen still fishing in Western Long Island Sound. Asking around at local markets, most folks weren’t sure there still was anyone with an operating lobster boat, as the population hasn’t recovered and fishing solely for lobster nearly isn’t profitable.
With a lead, I met Mike Kalaman, the last full-time lobsterman still fishing in Western Long Island Sound out of Connecticut, an employee at Copps Island Oysters in Norwalk Harbor. He has been a lobsterman for 4 decades and persevered through many unprofitable years.
In this ongoing project, I plan to meet and photograph the lives of fishermen whose lives drastically changed after this ecological and socioeconomic disaster, who needed to find new catches or left fishing altogether.