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Fish Tales: Josiah Dodge deals in lobsters and tattoos

Editor's note: Today we profile the captains of Stonington's fishing fleet, whose occupation, arguably one of the most dangerous, is steeped in tradition. Some of their families have been fishing for generations, and some of their ancestors' names are listed on the Town Dock memorial of those lost at sea. Some augment their income with other jobs. All of them have a calling, and a love for the open water.

Stonington — When he was 17, Josiah Dodge learned he was about to become a father. He left high school and went to work. 

Having grown up in Westerly and on Block Island as the descendant of fishermen, he began working on a lobster boat. After the environmental impact of the 1998 North Cape oil spill in South Kingstown, R.I., he began driving a truck.

"But I got tired of being locked in a truck all day, and I went back to fishing," he said one day last month on his lobster boat, the Edrie and Logan, named after two of his children.

The 43-year-old Dodge, who has worked on all types of fishing boats, has another profession: He owns Irish Rose Tattoo and Piercing in downtown Pawcatuck.

"I'm the weird Rhode Island guy," he joked.

He lobsters off Watch Hill, Weekapaug and Block Island. Because Westerly has no real commercial fishing infrastructure, he's been at the Town Dock the past three years. He sells most of his catch to a group of local customers and uses Facebook and word of mouth to build his customer base.

He said he's working with someone on a plan to create a processing facility and community kitchen that can showcase the catches of local fishermen.

"People want to know where their food comes from," Dodge said, adding that seafood is "clean, healthy and the real deal."

"We catch the best protein you can get," he said.

Like many fishermen, he cites the freedom of the job as its attraction.

"When I go out and fish, it's the hunter-gatherer complex. You're feeding your community. That's the ultimate goal," he said.

And like other Town Dock fishermen, Dodge has problems with the wind farm projects. He said the payments being offered to fishermen are only a fraction of what the financial impact on fish and fishermen will be.

"I'm all for anything that can help the environment, but I don't want to leave a toilet to my kids," he said. "At some point people have to take priority over profit. But unfortunately that's not happening in this day and age."

j.wojtas@theday.com

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