“In 10 or 20 years, I think it’s going to be all over; there’s no young blood left. But you can’t think like that.” Meet Kurtis Lang, one of the youngest full-time fishermen left in New Hampshire. Having grown up lobstering with his father and having fished since the age of 10, it only made sense to him that he continued to fish into adulthood. When asked why he fishes he responds, “I just like being out here. Even a bad day is a good day when you’re on the water.” He also mentions avoiding the family landscaping business, Lang’s Landscape Service, in Greenland, NH may also have been a motive as well. By age 20, Kurtis had a boat of his own, gill netting off the coast of New Hampshire. For the past two years now, he has been fishing off a 36 foot Novi built in 1999. Kurtis and his two deckhands fish 7 days a week with a few days off in October, a time when he typically switches over to lobstering to make up for the lack of fish allocated to him that time of year. Currently, while the dogfish sharks are plentiful through the end of August, a good day is described as catching 3,000 lbs. of dogfish and about 10 boxes full of fish, such as cod, pollock, sole, and monkfish.
Though Kurtis agrees it is important to establish a fishery that is able to sustain itself, he argues it’s hard to really predict what’s in the water, and thus certain regulations aren’t always appropriate. “Came out here yesterday,” he says, “there were no fish, just dogs. And it would make you think that there’s no fish, but things are always changing. It’s a big ocean, and there are lots of factors affecting the changes: tides, migration patterns, water temperatures, spawning. There’s never just one factor.” He later shares he pulled in over 8,000 lbs. of dogfish just the day before and very few fish, a dreaded day for any NH fishermen, considering the price for a pound of dogfish is typically around half a dollar, not to mention he’s only technically allowed to land 3,000 lbs. a day as prescribed by set quotas.
He worries that the continual increase in fishing regulations is going to put more local fishermen out of business if the regulations don’t scare them away first. Piles of paperwork, emails, and phone calls, on top of fishing a full day, is common place for today’s fishermen. “In some cases, it’s making people not want to fish,” he claims. With the growing concern for the Atlantic cod populations, he fears what regulations will come next. “If they cut the quota for cod fish anymore, I don’t see how most of us could continue.” After all, fish is where the money lies.
When asked about local seafood in relation to the general public, he states, “It’s good to have local interest in seafood because people don’t always know what’s in our water here, and people don’t know what we go through as fishermen, to catch fish. I think more people would buy fresh fish if they knew more about it.” To NH seafood consumers: “Buy fresh fish. You’ll be amazed at how much better it tastes.”
Kurtis resides in Portsmouth, New Hampshire with his wife and his two daughters, Sydney, 3, and Riley, 1.