Dead In the Water

Is Commercial Fishing Dead In the Water?

The planned demise of commercial fishing is not just occurring in Michigan. It’s happening across the United States. On the east coast, NOAA’s hopeful efforts along New England serve to wipe out an industry while doing nothing for the fishery it intended to save.

Dead in the Water Poster about commercial fishing
Dead in the Water Film

The documentary Dead in the Water was released in 2018, showing the decline and elimination of family commercial fishing in Gloucester, Massachusetts. NOAA’s well-intentioned mantra of “give it up today so you can fish tomorrow” has proven to be a disaster.

Produced & Directed by filmmaker David Wittkower. This film shares a similar theme with the political environment in Michigan. It outlines the demise of the New England fishing industry, told by fishermen and those who work with and know the industry.

This is the fifteenth film for the awarding-winning producer. In comments to the in New Bedford, Wittkower noted, “I’m hoping to increase public support for U.S. fishermen. I want to help keep fishing jobs in this country. If “Dead in the Water” can do that, I won’t need any more awards.”

This full-length documentary was produced by David Wittkower, Linzee Coolidge, John Bell, and Angela Sanfilippo. The music is by Paula Cole. The film has had limited screenings, mostly along with the eastern fishing communities.

Wittkower chatted with us and noted, “Frankly, New England fishermen only see themselves surviving for the next ten years. A lot of guys are selling their permits and their boats. New Hampshire, for example, used to have 50 boats, they now have 3. Gloucester used to have 500+ now have a few dozen left.”

The situation in New England parallels that of the Great Lakes. Almost more than a coincidence.

The Future of Your Access to Fresh Seafood.

Commercial Fishing
Commercial Fishing Fleet

Dead in the Water raises essential and fundamental questions of if we are going to have access to fresh, local fish and seafood. The film noted that today, about 93% of all seafood is imported. Will our future choices be imported frozen from foreign countries like Vietnam and China, who are unregulated? Charter and sports fishers may be the next targets for control, downsizing, and elimination. Clearly, more discussion is needed by clear-minded people. 


The Dead In the Water Facebook Page contains more information and details and is continually updated.

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Michael Hardy

Michael Hardy is the owner of Thumbwind Publications LLC. Michael was born in Michigan and grew up near Caseville. In 2009 he started this fun-loving site covering Michigan's Upper Thumb. Since then, he has authored a vast range of content and established a loyal base of 60,000 visitors per month.

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3 thoughts on “Is Commercial Fishing Dead In the Water?

  1. Really so what are the Resturants in Michigan to do rely on poison fish from over seas..The Democrats Rats just WANT TO BREAK DOWN THE LIVELYHOOD OF BUSINESS FISHERIES THAT HAVE BEEN IN MUTI GENERATIONAL FISHERIES IN MICHIGAN..OH SO THE INDIAN TRIBES Can fish illegally…lets be real…they don t even pay taxes. They. Have Casino’s…some one it seems is stepping a bit too far ..the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act. Is Ludacris to Restrict the DNR S Authority to stop the licensing of commercial fishing.
    Be considerate of the livelyhoods of others..Its Time to get a Republican Governor in Michigan..damn its not like we have in Michigan Thousands of Fishery Companies here in the Great lakes…taking fish..
    June 30, 2021

    1. Hi Phyllis…good points except the issue resides with the Republican-controlled Michigan legislature. This issue has been going on for over 8 years. Since Rick Snyder was Governor. State Senator Ed McBroom, (R-38th), is trying to finish the bill up. The proposed bill will limit what the MDNR can do. Keep in mind that the Michigan DNR is an executive branch role headed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. So it is no surprise that Whitmer is opposing it.

    2. Phillis, Actually in New England its is the Democrats and Republicans have both join forces to figure out how to save commercial fishing in New England. Its not ” those Democrats” or those Republicans” issue. If you don’t find a way to work together and just blames someone else, nothing will be done. No one wants fishing to end and frankly it won’t. Do you know how big the ocean is?

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