Commercial Fishing has been a mainstay in Cape May County since the late 1600s. Whalers first came to the county in the 1690s and settled in the Townbank area of Lower Township, along the Delaware Bay. Before that the Lenni Lenape tribe fished the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay, spending summers along the beaches to fish.
Fishing villages sprang up along the barrier islands of the Atlantic Ocean and along the Delaware Bay. Commercial fishing fleets are currently located in Sea Isle City at Fish Alley, Wildwood at Ottens Harbor and Two Mile in Lower Township and Cape May at Schellengers Landing.
Today, the Port of Cape May/Wildwood ranks among the top 25 ports in the country in commercial landings. Commercial fishing is the second largest industry in the county, producing millions of dollars in revenue each year and the second largest industry in the county.
The combined port of Cape May/Wildwood is the largest commercial fishing port in New Jersey and is one of the largest on the East Coast. The Cape May/Wildwood port is the center of fish processing and freezing in New Jersey. Some of the largest vessels fishing on the East Coast have home ported in the southern end of the Jersey Cape.
The top species harvested included: Scallops, Butterfish, Summer Flounder, Scup, Black Sea Bass, Surf Clams, Ocean Quahog, Lobster, Herring and Monkfish.
In 2013, commercial landings were 20 million pounds, with an estimated value of $35 million. Cape May’s fishing industry makes most of its money from the sale of scallops, squid, mackerel, and butterfish.