Bill Bright is a first-generation fisherman who has made his living fishing in Cape May for over 40 years. Born to a family of carpenters, Bill was apprenticing to become a carpenter himself when he took a trip to Alaska and fell in love with fishing. Upon returning, he immediately left carpentry to pursue a job as a commercial fisherman. He began his career as a deckhand on a vessel out of Cape May, working his way up to a role in the engine room and then the wheelhouse before purchasing an old, leaky wooden ship that would become his first commercial fishing boat. At the time, Bill’s friends and family were skeptical of his decision to branch out on his own – often joking that his longliner might sink before it could even complete its first voyage. Determined and undeterred, Bill named his boat the F/V Defiance and set out to prove his doubters wrong.
35+ years later, Bill is the captain and owner of a successful commercial fishing operation. He has since added a second vessel to his fleet, the F/V Retriever, and his business has grown into a family affair. His two sons have followed him out to sea, with one training to be a ship and fishing equipment engineer and the other working alongside him as a fisherman on the F/V Retriever. On shore, his wife and two daughters manage the family’s Wildwood restaurant, which serves fresh-caught seafood straight from his two vessels and other local boats.
Bill is deeply passionate about responsible fishing and owns his entire supply chain. He enlists the F/V Retriever to catch his own bait, uses that bait on the F/V Defiance to fish for a wide range of seafood – including tuna, swordfish, mahi mahi, and tilefish – and then sells his catch directly to consumers through his restaurant. He prioritizes fishing as efficiently and sustainably as possible, and also works closely with the fish safety division of the National Marine Fishing Service, frequently participating in studies and groups focused on promoting ethical fishing practices. His primary goal is to promote responsible fishing while also keeping U.S.-caught seafood affordable, as he believes strongly that sustainable, quality seafood shouldn’t be the luxury of the few.
Wayne Reichle is a third-generation Cape May fishermen. Wayne’s grandfather was a fishing vessel owner and operator in Cape May, and he was followed by Wayne’s father, Jeff Reichle, who had a vision for expanding the business and helped pioneer several fisheries through his investments in shoreside processing and distribution. Jeff completed a purchase of Lund’s Fisheries in the early nineties. After spending his early years at sea as a fisherman for his father’s company, Wayne moved on shore to the operations side of the business and now serves as Lund’s Fisheries President and co-owner alongside his father, who also serves as the company’s chairman.
Wayne and his family grew the business from its modest origins to an operation that today employs over 200 local workers on both coasts of the US, with 19 vessels, 17 captains and 3 4 ports. But Wayne has never lost sight of the company’s roots, and takes great pride in the fact that his company has re-built many of its own boats from the keel up. Six of Lund’s 19 vessels are licensed and outfitted for Atlantic herring fishing – including the F/V Jersey Cape, the F/V Eva Marie, the F/V Golden Nugget, the F/V Enterprise, the F/V Anya Jo, and the F/V Nancy Elizabeth – and at one time, herring landings made up approximately 10% of the company’s production.
As a life-long fishermen and lover of the sea, Wayne is deeply committed to sustainable fishing practices – and his passion is reflected in Lund’s leadership in cooperative fisheries research and management. The company participates in regional fishery management council initiatives, assists in improving the data upon which fishery regulations are based, and is a founding member of the Science Center for Marine Fisheries, a National Science Foundation industry-government academic partnership that funds applied science to minimize uncertainty in fish stock assessments. Wayne’s goal is to ensure there is a sustainable, long-term supply of ocean resources for generations to come.
Stefan is a third-generation commercial fisherman. Stefan’s grandfather immigrated to Cape May from Sweden in 1954 and quickly became one of the central figures driving the community’s transformation into a home base for a number of family-owned East Coast fishing operations. Stefan’s father inherited his father’s fishing business and then passed it down to Stefan, who was born and raised in Cape May and has been fishing there his entire life.
Today, Stefan is the owner and captain of the herring boat F/V Dyrsten. He has passed on his passion for herring fishing to his daughter, who was also born and raised in Cape May and frequently accompanies him on his fishing trips. It is his hope that she will take over the family business someday, although he is concerned that there won’t be a business for her to inherit if the government is successful in forcing him and other herring fishermen to shoulder the financial burden of paying for the at-sea monitors on their fishing vessels.