The decline of the fresh seafood industry has been an underreported issue for decades. Across the South, commercial fishermen have been forced to abandon the only trade they’ve ever known and struggle to compete in a crippled economy against cheaper farm-raised imports and the rampant mislabeling of seafood in grocery stores and markets. Fish Town focuses on the remaining fishing communities of Louisiana, where people’s livelihoods have revolved around harvesting the sea for generations. In addition to suffering economic hardships endemic to the industry, they also sit on “sinking lands” that have been plagued by natural and manmade disasters for years.

The marshlands once mirrored a landscape rich with oak and cypress, divided by a winding road running parallel to a bayou: On one side, fishermen docked their boats, and a stone’s throw away on the other side, they made homes with their families. Over the years the countryside has transformed: Skeleton trees and empty lots sit between fenced-off industrial plants; the bayous have become ship graveyards. “You shoulda seen it. It was beautiful,” one of Blatty’s interviewees told her. “This was God’s country.”

JT (Jenn) Blatty graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 2000 and served six years as an active duty army officer, which included first-rotation combat deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq. While there she began capturing the people and culture with her camera, discovering a passion for photography that she pursued ever since. In addition to her photographic pursuits, Jenn is also a FEMA Disaster Reservist photographer and recently returned from Queens, New York, where she was deployed in response to Hurricane Sandy.

This was the final project for the Certificate in Documentary Arts at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. See more Spring 2013 final projects at

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