Leveraging Cultural Heritage to Support Sustainable Coastal Communities
Commercial fishing has deep cultural ties to the Georgia coast, particularly the shrimping industry, which is the state’s largest and most economically valuable fishery. Shrimping has played an integral role in shaping the identities of the commercial fishermen who have spent most of their lives on the water.
At the heart of these identities are the fishing boats that have carried captains and their crew for decades. These vessels have been bought and sold by fishermen up and down the coast for decades, connecting multiple generations of fishing families. They serve as the backbone of Georgia’s shrimping industry and have become iconic symbols for fresh and locally harvested seafood for the millions of residents and tourists who visit the coast.
In 2020-2021, Anthropologists at Georgia Southern University collaborated with Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant to record the stories and experiences of local shrimpers and their boats. Funded by Georgia Department of Natural Resources Coastal Resource Division through a Coastal Improvement Grant (NOAA #NA20NOS4190175), student researchers learned about commercial fishing as they conducted these oral history interviews. These recordings powerfully preserve the voices and culture of commercial fishing to be shared with current and future generations. This database of knowledge is also available to guide science and regulatory decisions.
See some of the amazing fishers we interviewed and learn how the fishing community is connected via this story map: Boat Stories: A Cultural History Project
Get to know Georgia’s commercial fishermen by listening to their “Boat Stories” on the NOAA Voices: Oral History Archive Boat Stories Project Page.