< Back to Oral History project: Florida’s Forgotten Coast
Monica Lemieux comes from a family of fishermen. Her grandfather, her father, and her brothers all earned their living on the bay. Her father, Bill Martina, is believed to have commissioned one of the first shrimp boats in the area. He named it the Irish Town after a neighborhood in Apalachicola. The boat still hauls shrimp today. Monica’s brother, Kevin, is its captain. Monica did not work in the seafood industry until she was an adult. She went to college and got a job outside of the industry. But when the company she worked for closed, she, too, looked to the bay for work. She and her husband, Leslie Lemieux, oystered together for a few years. In the 1980s Monica was an officer with the Franklin County Seafood Workers Association. She participated in a seafood workers strike, which resulted in self-imposed licensing and a per-bag surcharge on oysters. To this day, the resulting funds enable the replanting of the bay’s oyster beds each season. And yet, the unpredictability of the industry led the Lemieuxs to find stable jobs on land. Today, Leslie works at the post office, and Monica is vice president of the Apalachicola State Bank.