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Rising Fuel Costs Damage Viability of Fishing Industry

Rising fuel costs are reaching far into the pockets of tuna fisherman, who are struggling to keep their businesses alive as the price of fuel skyrockets.

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  • MALE:

    You getting a thousand in each one, Lewis?


    Probably. You realize when the last time I got fuel, the price was $2.76?


    In one year, the price of diesel at these pumps has jumped 70 percent. It exceeds $5 a gallon at many West Coast ports. But the price of tuna has remained constant since the 1980s.


    Fuel has become such a major item. We might find fish 50 miles from here or we might have to go 500 miles from here or 1,000 miles from here. It's just we've got to go where we've got to go. And it's a gamble.

    You spend more money here than you could on a crap table.


    Hill swallowed hard as he purchased 2,000 gallons of fuel. His boat burns a gallon per mile, even with a new, more efficient $50,000 engine.

    Instead of striking out in search of migrating albacore, some fishers are scaling back on their season or simply tying their boats up and staying in port.

    Richard Hagel has fished tuna from these Washington docks since 1975, and he says he's not sure it's worth it anymore.

    RICHARD HAGEL, commercial fisherman: If the price of the fish do not come up to offset fuel, we won't be fishing. You know, nobody wants to do this for nothing.