National Geographic : 1973 Apr
I asked about the two-mile limit round the island. Monheganers will not allow any non-islander to fish for lobsters within this arbitrary perimeter. "If you're going to live on this rock and make a living out of it, then you'd better take care of what you've got!" said Harry Odom. "Pass the bottle." The islanders do take care of what they have. Alone in Maine, Monhegan lobstermen follow a closed season. This self-imposed re striction became law in 1907. Monheganers fish only from January 1 to June 25, taking more and bigger lobsters than those main landers who fish the year round. Was it true that they earned as much in six months as mainlanders did in a year? "Maybe," said Rusty Court, a red-haired young fisherman who is one of the high liners who bring in the largest catches. "It depends on how many traps you put into the water and how hard you want to work. "I live to fish, but the other day I got up at six in the morning and hauled my brains out until noon, and all I got was 28 lobsters. It's discouraging. Still it's a lot better than pound ing nails somewhere, or working in a shoe fac tory. So you just clump along during March and make what you can. I'll take a honk." Harsh Conditions Wash Away Pettiness "Because of weather we fish only about 90 days every season," said another man. "Paper down to Portland says a man can make $20,000 a year here. Maybe he can, though $6,000 would be nearer for some of us."