• UMassD Eats

A Man and His Boat & A Whole Lot of Passion

By: Marketing Manager Intern, Kendall Foundation-UMass Dartmouth,

Michaella Lesieur

In August 2019 we had the opportunity to take a break from the office and go meet the captain of the great Ruthie B., Bill Blount. Blount’s boat is named after his wife Ruth (what a romantic sea story). A lifelong fisherman, husband, and father of seven children, life has not always been easy for the Blount’s, but there have been many rewards.

The 74-year-old fisherman is an inspiration to the fishing industry and remembers helping his dad build boats back in the day. His dad Luther, built boats for a living and from that Blount carried on the family legacy in his own way--becoming a captain and building his own boat.

Ruthie B. is a beautiful boat and is recently undergoing renovation after a devastating fire. Blount built the boat in one year with the help of a crew of 25 of his closest friends.

Blount and his wife lived and worked on Nantucket Island for many years and recently relocated to New Bedford. Captain Blount has worked in the industry for 50 years and holds several different permits which allow him to fish for a variety of species.

Of course, like anything he’s had his good years and his more challenging years. The work of a fisherman is hard, working sun-up to sun-down just to make ends meet. Like Blount, most fishermen have a passion for the sea and work hard to keep our oceans sustainable while feeding our communities and supporting their families.

When Blount is fishing, he is out anywhere from one to three days, catching anywhere from three to nine thousand pounds of fish. There are restrictions, called quota, that determine how much of one fish a fisherman can catch. If a fisherman doesn’t have much quota, they may need to buy quota before setting out, adding cost to their trip. Cod quota is limited and very expensive. Other more abundant species like monkfish are not.

Ruthie B. mainly fishes for groundfish. Some of his catches include underutilized species such as red fish, monkfish, whiting, and pollock.

Captain Blount is like an encyclopedia of fishing. His knowledge for the field is remarkable as he told us various stories and history. Likewise, we learned that red fish is similar to sea bass in taste and the reason they are that beautiful red color is because of all the Northern shrimp the fish eat which pigments their skin. The redder the color the more money the fish can be.

Another fun fact is that monkfish is very popular in French cuisine. The fish is abundant and Blount believes the monkfish to have a strong potential. He describes the flesh to be meaty and best used in recipes such as shish kabobs. Monkfish is a fish that you can add a lot of seasoning and flavor to since it has such a meaty texture.

Commercial fishing is complicated as rules and regulations are constantly changing; however, it is a profession that attracts people like Captain Bill Blount who are hardworking, dedicated to sustainability, and love what they do.

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