GREENPORT, NY – Over the years, Mark Phillips has fished and held permits in most fisheries and gear types, including: weir, trawl, dragger, and dredge.
Like many long-time fishermen, Phillips came into the profession through his family by lobstering with his uncle starting at age eight.
Once he graduated high school, he forfeited going to college on a math scholarship in favor of commercial fishing on the deck of the Tide trawling for scup in 1966.
That began a 49-year career that seems more like two or three careers, he says, when you count all of the 20-hour days on the water over those years.
By 1980, Phillips had his own groundfishing permit, and in July 1987 he purchased the Illusion. “I remember the month and year because it was just one month before my son was born,” Phillips said.
His son Nathan now runs Alice’s Fish Market in Greenport with Phillips’ wife of 33 years, Mary Bess.
Both Mark and Mary Bess are staunch defenders of a fishing way of life that is rapidly disappearing: family operations whose livelihood relies on their catch.
“You don’t realize what you’re getting into as a fisherman’s wife,” said Mary Bess. “You’re their shoreside support so they can keep fishing.” …
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