Nancy’s Story

The childhood summer visits to Cape Cod that Nancy enjoyed with her family, gave her a love of the sea and of fishing. Her dream to live on the Cape and make her living from the sea was finally realized several years ago. She moved to the Outer Cape and fished in and around Cape waters for the next couple of years. But circumstances arose that made it necessary for her to leave the employer and she decided it was the perfect time to realize her life’s ambition and open her own business.

Nancy also was wild-harvesting shellfish for others as a self-employed fisherman, but realized she needed to do her own shellfish farm to make a viable living. She got a $1,000 SBA loan to help purchase some of her gear and she carefully researched the best price options before purchasing. Just as she was finalizing her license to set up,COVID-19 hit and the market for oysters—at least for smaller harvesting operations—shut down. She could not harvest enough clams to make ends meets. “Clams move better because, even if people can’t open them, they can steam them, make them into chowder or add to other dishes. Oysters are trickier to use if they are not freshly opened. Add to this that seventy percent of my business was to small restaurants.”

She avowedly had “never asked for help before COVID hit us. I had personal life stresses along with financial worries and was very anxious about bills piling up.” At the same time she was unable to set up her new fishing business. She had just ordered her gear and shellfish seed and was in the process of getting everything in order when she lost virtually all her income and licenses were put on hold.

In April, she contacted Lower Cape Outreach Council for some help. They provided some money towards her auto insurance and some towards a service bill that she had to keep her truck on the road. “The help I received from them speaks to the tightness and compassion on the Outer Cape and Cape Cod in general. Everyone looks out for each other. I have lived elsewhere and have not found that to be the case. The LCOC has a huge part of supporting people in the community. Shellfishing became my world when I moved here. Fishing has always been my dream. The help from LCOC means I can hang on until things open up and I can get back to business.”

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