There is a monthly fee, and I think it starts around $35, but then there are other extras you can add on. Don't get me wrong for a minute- I don't like the idea of it costing more money to outfit the boat, especially when it doesn't help catch fish or improve safety, and I HATE the idea of periodic fees that accomplish the same thing. That's just another case of some dirtbag figuring out a way to make a living off hard-working men. But, guys screwing around and getting caught, or jealous guys blowing the whistle, have brought this crap down. Just a matter of time before anyone will know where anyone else is fishing by simply pushing a button. Then we're all out of business, and the fish will die anyways.
Barney Truex (Sea Watch International)still owns them blue boats. The boats aren't really in trouble- They're just the red-headed step-child fleet of the AC operation. The guys that work there are getting tight, but most crews have two or three boats so they can get a week's pay out of it. Each of them has a NY state permit. You're right, it is 14 cages a week, has been for two years. But I think they saw that the quota wasn't going to be met last year, and added an extra 7 cages a week in October or something, and carried it through into January sometime. Now there's a fishery that was screwed up by the managers. When I started doing it in '01, we went out of Jones, put the dredge over (and we have a small dredge that really doesn't catch all that well), and we had the load in under an hour, easily. Couldn't leave the dredge on the bottom more than six or seven minutes, or you might not be able to haul it back. Now the boats are going past Davis Park for the decent fishing- Anywhere's short of there and you're scraping to get the load, unless you're on the stern-rigs w/ 100" knives and 100 pounds of pressure. We'll be in the same position as NJ in a couple years- They don't have two bushel of clams in their state waters, every boat there fishes federally, usually fifty mile trips.
Federal quota is actually owned, by the bushel. The blue fleet, I am told, owns about 85% of that, but I could be wrong. It can be bought from those who hold it, I think it goes for around fifty or sixty bucks a bushel. That means you have to catch it for five years to pay for it. Anyways, if you own 4500 bushels, then you can make ten trips a year (assuming you have a 14 cage capacity, of course). Both the state and federal trips must have the tags on the cages before the boat lands. Back a few years, and even today, the clamming is better in the state waters around here, for the most part.
The bait area to the west is another story. There are clams like footballs there, piled two feet high. Screwy, but to fish in the bait area, you have to call in and relinquish the boat's food clam permit for the day, then call it back in when the trip is done to get it back. I don't think that any of those boats bait fish.