Vice President of Operations of Atlantic Capes Fisheries
Sam Martin isn’t just a fourth generation fisherman. He’s a fourth generation fisherman who’s been involved in every aspect of the fishing industry, from watching his father work boats to becoming an executive with one of North America’s largest fleet operators.
Martin, now the Vice President of Operations of the Cape May, New Jersey-based Atlantic Capes Fisheries, Inc., is from Ocean City, Maryland where his family started Martin Fish Company.
“I fished my entire life, grew up through the ranks,” Martin said. “I have a high school education, but I never went to my high school graduation. I went fishing instead.”
Leading the operations for Atlantic Capes means managing the 20 boats in the fleet.
“The experience I have on vessels helps me understand what the captains go through on the ocean. I’ve been there. I understand what the guys need in the oceans to fish safely and efficiently, and to evaluate the fleet to know what we need today and in the future.”
Atlantic Capes is largely known as a leading harvester and marketer of scallops – they are responsible for about 25 percent of the East Coast scallops – but also sells flounder, scup, clams and squid.
With all of Atlantic Capes’ divisions – including operations like clam processing and aquaculture farms – they employ more than 200 people.
“We really work hard trying to grow jobs,” Martin said. “It’s about creating partnerships and seeing who we can keep in business rather than get out of business. Creating partnerships creates strength. That creates community, which is incredibly important in fishing.”
Last year alone, Atlantic Capes sold more than 14 million pounds of scallops, and that’s a combined figure from those harvested by Atlantic Capes-owned boats and boats they’ve created those partnerships with.
“We have a very strong company,” Martin said. “It’s a very strong business model.”
Its success is largely based on its vertically integrated system.
“Basically that means we get it all the way to the plate,” Martin said. “We don’t sell directly to retail, but we do sell to companies – like Costco. We process and package it to our customers’ specs. A company gives us their label and we put it in their bags and cold store it.”
Martin proudly states that his family now has fifth generation fishermen working the fish from Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s regulated waters. His daughter, Ginger Nappi, helps run the still vibrant Martin Fish Company in Ocean City, Maryland.
As for Martin, “occasionally I miss being out on the water, that is, until the wind blows real hard. At the same time, I get a lot of joy assisting captains and the crews out on the ocean. Makes me happy to coordinate a fleet like this.”