Last year was one of the deadliest in New Jersey waters in almost 90 years, with 12 commercial fishermen dead in four separate boat accidents off the coast. In December, two Virginia men died off Ocean County when their 38-foot scallop boat, the Alisha Marie, sank. Last March, the Lady Mary, a North Carolina boat operating out of Cape May, sank on a scallop trip, killing six of the seven crew members.
"We all know the dangers. There's a market for it, so somebody's got to go out there and get them," said Steve Cummings, 45, a fisherman from Pimlico County, N.C., one recent winter morning while preparing to embark on a trip from a commercial dock in Cape May. "It's what we do. I've been doing it for 18 years."