Faces of Long Island celebrates the uniqueness of everyday Long Islanders. In their own words, they tell us about their life experiences, challenges and triumphs. Newsday launched this social media journey into the human experience to shine a light on the diverse people of this wonderful place we call home.

‘I have worked on the waters my entire life. It is what I like to do. It is in my blood.’

Clint Bennett Jr., Montauk

“I am a 14th-generation bayman-slash-offshore commercial fisherman. I have grown up on the East End my entire life. I have worked on the waters my entire life. It is what I like to do. It is in my blood. It is all that I really know what to do. At the end of the day, I am a bayman.

“We work with the government, and the ways of fishing have changed a little bit, methodwise. We can’t use haul seine anymore. We have to use gillnets now. Poe traps are still the same. Pikes are still the same, clamwise, bull rakes, pretty much everything is still the same. It is just the limits. The limits are getting us. It’s always changing on certain parts of the year when you can catch a harvest stock.

“[My uncle and grandfather] worked up until the early 1990s, when they were told they could not fish anymore for striped bass, which they had done for generations with wholesale. They protested with Billy Joel and a lot of different baymen. Billy Joel carried a fish up to the beach with my uncle and my grandfather.

“I am a very professional person when it comes to the law. You have to go by the guidelines and do whatever they want you to do. I was only about 6 years old when all of this was going on. [Billy Joel] went with my uncle, my grandfather, and their crews and really got involved with those guys, with the baymen, you know? I was a young kid, and I did not realize what was going on.

“As I got older and read all the stories in the books we had, I really understood it. Knowing that my family got pushed out of their livelihood due to whatever circumstances they were in, they got frustrated and gave up their license, and they got jobs.”

We do what we do, and we are going to keep doing that; that is what Billy meant to me as a bayman.

“Billy Joel inspires me not to get an office job. He is a kindhearted man. He always stood by the fishermen to help us out in any way possible to sustain. He is a voice for the fishermen.”

“There are times that I want to sit down and tell him my thoughts and feelings. I sat down with many old-time fishermen about the subject. I try not to have those conversations because they are tough.

“‘Downeaster “Alexa”’ … I did not get to know Billy [Joel] at all because I was so young, and through the years, he has gotten older, and he became a song producer-writer and all that stuff. I have not really sat with him personally or spoken with him about everything that has happened in the past, but every time I hear his song, it is an inspiration to me to keep doing what I do.

“From him, that is enough to have that inspiration there in the waters, knowing that we worked so hard. We do what we do, and we are going to keep doing that; that is what Billy meant to me as a bayman.

“My father, my brother, and I still work the waters today. Ever since we were born, we have been around the water, worked the water, and brought clams and fish our entire lives. In my region, I believe there are about 30 guys who are still Baymen like my family.

“In 2016, my then-fiancée, Kim, and I were scalloping. We were opening our scallops in our kitchen when we decided to open a shop. That year was a good year for scalloping. We built Bennett Shellfish, and it has taken off, and we supply different numbers of food. We do clam, seafood, oysters, scallops, clam pies, all kinds of stuff.

“Kim inspired me to be a businessperson. She taught me retail and how to manage money, and how to market things.”

Interviewed by Christian Spencer