The Jordan Fish Story
Once upon a time – and this is no fairy tale – an adventure began in Pine Point when a 10-year-old boy got his first 10 lobster traps (the old wooden ones). He received 50 traps at age 14, then 100 traps when he was at Old Orchard Beach High School. Like his father who lobstered, David Jordan had bug pickin’ in his blood.
By his senior year, Jordan had a small wooden 15’ punt, and spent his summers hauling in his traps by hand before going to work as a Life Guard on Old Orchard Beach. After graduating from OOBHS, he went to the University of New Hampshire on a football scholarship only to leave after the first semester. The following summer he married his high school sweetheart, Theresa, and found a school that matched his goals – SMTVI (Southern Maine Technical Institute) – graduating with High Honors in Marine Technology.
He purchased a wooden lobster boat and then upgraded to newer and bigger lobster boats. He crewed on large vessels going to the Grand Banks red fishing and ground fishing. In 1966 he and his cousin purchased a small wooden eastern rig, The Molly and Jane, out of New Bedford, and he became the first dragerman in his family. After running this business for three years, David returned to Pine Point, lobstering in the summer, shrimping and plowing snow in the winter to be home with his family. His daughter Allyson remembers eating plenty of lobsters as a main staple.
He built a fiberglass lobster boat in Candia, NH, commissioned in August, 1978. By December of that year, the scallop boom was beginning and he began scalloping for the Bayley’s shell stocking and eventually bought another steel dragger, again an eastern rig. He fished this for several years. Washburn Doughty Associates Inc in East Boothbay, Maine knew of his success and capabilities in the fishing industry and approached him to build a vessel. The F/V Theresa and Allyson, a stern trawler, was built and launched on a very cold January day in 1989. At the launching, David was thanked for having the courage to persevere in the industry, which had already begun to have many restrictions put on it by the Federal Government. To this day, Washburn Doughty mentions this as part of its success in moving their business forward.
Three years later, David purchased the F/V Jamie and Ashley which had been built the same year as the F/V Theresa and Allyson. The two draggers have since ground fished with three- to four-man crews offshore in the Gulf of Maine – as far as Georges Bank.
As with most fishermen at that time, Jordan found working the sea laborious. Captain Jordan was married to the sea and his job. Allyson says, “My dad came home on the first day (after coming in and offloading the catch), worked on gear for the next three days, checked on the bookwork done by my mom and sailed on the fifth day. It was a way of life and one that whole family agreed to support by helping out at home in his absence.
By 1994 things drastically changed within the industry and the newer legislation dictated when and where fishermen could fish. The thought of adding to the Jordan fleet was diminished. Jordan captained his boats until he was 50 and in 1998 purchased a company on the Portland waterfront Fishing Vessel Repair a hydraulic hose shop that repaired pumps made hoses and maintained his vessels. The plan was to go to Florida for six months of the year and spend the other six months in Maine. Plans were changed when on August 14, 1999 David Jordan passed away from a heart arrhythmia at the age of 57.
Allyson Jordan returned to Maine, leaving her life in Boston in 2004 to help her mother manage the boats and businesses. This was not an easy transition. To quote her, “it has been a huge learning curve. I have a passion for the industry and in order to be successful in life you must do what you love and the money will follow.” Her mom credits their 12 year success as having Allyson as her right hand, willing to learn and determined to “take care of me and the businesses;” the other most important factor is ”David Jordan was a very smart business man sharing the entire operation with me enabling me to truly be the other half of him”.
Theresa Jordan owns two ground fish trawlers: the 71 foot Theresa and Allyson and the 65 foot Jamie and Ashley.
Allyson manages Jordan Marine Inc, Jordan Maritime Industries Ltd, and formerly Fishing Vessel Repair, Inc. She is the sales representative at the Portland Fish Exchange and negotiates the sale of fish out of Gloucester, MA as well.
Having said this, you may see her in her “work clothes changing the oil, fixing the hydraulic hoses, working on the winch, helping with the engine overhauls, up the rigging painting – she is one busy young woman. Her passion is unsurpassed. She is tough and has to be working in this male dominated industry – she is a survivor to say the least.
Allyson believes her work ethic is a result of growing up in the fishing industry. Fishing also taught her the value of money and saving of it. “My Dad was my mentor. I believe in what he believed in. I believe in doing it the right way. “Jordan’s passion for the industry makes it clear that she is in this for the long haul.
Since 2008, the trawlers have been located in Gloucester, Massachusetts. State and federal ground fish and shellfish regulations have since helped break up fishing communities and ports forcing vessels such as Jordan’s to relocate to more advantageous ports.
“It was our family’s way of life, and it stinks we had to leave after 46 years as Maine businesses. The fun part of the business is fishing and the most stressful part is dealing with the government – particularly having to attend meetings, keeping up with the regulations and especially trying to convince the general public and the government we are not criminals and do not want to take all fish from the sea.”
Fishermen are restricted in the type of gear they can use (net mesh size, overall size of nets, etc.), they are restricted in the number of fish they can keep and the size, the horsepower of the vessels, where they can offload their fish and who they can sell their fish to.
“We are just trying to work and support local jobs and economy,” she says. “We feed people a good quality protein source harvested from a natural resource that is sustainable in our own back yard, the Gulf of Maine.
In spite of the regulations and hard work, Allyson continues to work the industry. She loves her job and hopes to continue for a long time. Women like Allyson Jordan are making great contributions to Maine and Massachusetts fishing and will continue to do so in years to come.
Jordan, like her father has a dream. That dream is also no fish story. Her goals are to protect and support the working fishermen, expand the local fishing economy and continue to keep fishing a sustainable industry.
She plans on selling local fish to local people. From dragger to your home.