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Mike Rego sees the handwriting on the wall for lobstering out of Provincetown in the not-too-distant future. But for now, he’s at the top of his game and in love with what he does. He is the manifestation of the classic bumper sticker:  A bad day fishing is better than the best day at the office. 


I grew up in Provincetown, fourth generation from Provincetown. Everybody was a fishing family, pretty much. You'd have a baseball game. All the fishermen would be there, all the town’s people would be there. They supported everybody. You'd win championships, and they’d throw parades for you down the street. It brought the whole community together.


Everybody knew who you were. If you were getting in trouble, by the time you got home, your parents already knew you were doing something bad. You couldn't get away with anything here.


Back in probably the late ‘60s, there were 70 boats fishing out of this harbor. You had three fish houses with 18 wheelers going up and down the pier every day.  But by the time I was a junior in high school, you saw a lot of the older guys starting to get out. Fuel and everything else, maintenance on a boat, just got more and more expensive. And the price of fish stayed the same for years. Growing up with my dad being a fisherman, he would tell me this is going to end badly.


I started seeing it, but to me it didn't matter. That's what I wanted to do. I just fell in love with it from the first time I went. I remember us steaming home. I was just hanging out with my dad coming across Herring Cove beach, and the sun setting behind the boat, the rumble of the engine, and the birds working in the background. You're your own person out there. And I just liked the freedom of it.


My grandfather was a draggerman. My father, he grew up a draggerman. I mean, you looked at the men back then. They were just all muscle, their hands alone were like catchers’ mitts. They had a good life, and they made a lot of money back in the day. Like a lot of money. In this town they made more money than people working at banks or anything else. Every captain had a house in Provincetown, and they owned their boat. They all had new trucks. They had everything. Those guys were the guys. I mean, that's who you looked up to.


I'm 46, and I've had my own boat now for 19 years. I would say lobstering is the most expensive fishery there is. If you have 800 pots, you're well over a hundred thousand dollars just in gear. I throw a hundred thousand dollars out in the ocean, it could be gone tomorrow -- a storm, somebody doesn't like you. You go out tomorrow, there’d be nothing left. And what do you do?


My daughter's 13. For my daughter’s generation in terms of fishing, I think it's going to be hard. I wouldn't encourage my daughter to get into it. I wouldn't encourage any young people to get into it.


I think we're a dying breed all the way around. The way things are going right now, I would say in 10 years, you won't have a lobsterman, not here, not in Provincetown. The handwriting's on the wall.


My daughter Lillian is a great artist. That's where her heart's at. That’s what she wants to do.  I hope she goes that direction. I really do. She's in a great place for it. It’s kind of like what fishing was back in the day where, you know, you had a bunch of guys behind you saying, “You love it. Let's go. Let’s do it!”


Here with the art community, I think she has a great opportunity to really succeed.  I'm glad. She knows who she is, and she knows what she wants to do. At the age of 13, that's great. And it reminds me of myself, because when I was 13, I knew what I wanted to do.


Provincetown has always been art and fishing. That's what made this whole town for as far back as you can remember.

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