March 3, 2017 — Scallops caught by boats based in southern Cape May County may end up on your plate at a local restaurant, or in the frozen foods section of a Wal-Mart or Costco, or even in foreign countries like France.
But before the delicious white mollusks end up frozen in a chain store or fresh at a restaurant, commercial fishermen have to scrape them from the bottom of the ocean floor.
It’s a fairly lucrative business that fuels a commercial fishing industry worth tens of millions of dollars each year. But the job takes an emotional toll on the fishermen who must leave their families for up to two weeks at a time to go to sea.
Tom McNulty Jr.’s wife, Mandy, gave birth Feb. 16 to a daughter. Zoe McNulty was born at 7 pounds, 12 ounces, the proud father announced recently. But with scallop season quickly approaching, he’s going to have to leave them to go make a living.
“I’m not looking forward to that day when I have to leave,” said McNulty, 35, of Middle Township, who captains two scallop boats and also has a 6-year-old son. “You can’t wait to come back and see your family.”
“It’s hard on your family,” he added. “You miss birthdays. You miss graduations.”