Foreshadowing: A glimpse into Reedville’s future?

“If you come to a community with a heritage, like Reedville, try to support it. When it comes to tradition, you either tend the flames or you worship the ashes.”

                                 —retired fishing Capt. Albert Dudley

by Jackie Nunnery


From left, Barbara Garrity-Blake, Capt. Albert Dudley and Joseph Smith share perspectives on a familiar topic: the menhaden fishery.

The March 9 installment of the Reedville Fishermen’s Museum Winter Lecture Series told a familiar story of a community built on a small fish, seeing boom times, then watching as factories closed. However, this was not a story about Reedville, but Beaufort, N.C.

The panel, composed of cultural anthropologist Barbara Garrity-Blake, retired fishing Capt. Albert Dudley and retired National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) marine scientist Joseph Smith, shared how the two fishing communities have been connected through Brevoortia tyrannus, known as shad in North Carolina, but known locally as menhaden.

According to Smith, the federal government became interested in the menhaden fishery in the 1920s, trying to determine best practices like “how to reduce losses in materials, how to improve the end products and reduce operation costs.” He added that Reedville even had a lab in 1927 “but I have no idea where it was.” According to research, Reedville was chosen “since it was relatively close to Washington, D.C., and readily accessible to a number of menhaden factories for additional fisheries investigations, which owing to the odor associated with them, were prohibited in the Washington, D.C., laboratories.”

Fast forward to the 1950s when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife….

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