Fishermen thrilled dredging operations have started at Hampton Harbor

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, speaks with Maj. Mark Gilmore, deputy commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, on Monday morning.

SEABROOK — People who work on the water are ecstatic that emergency dredging of Hampton Harbor is happening.

Les Eastman of Eastman’s Fishing Fleet said on Tuesday that sand shoals in the harbor were getting so bad he lost 20 percent of his business this summer.

“The harbor was just basically closing off,” Eastman said.

If the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not start the $4.6 million project this fall, Eastman predicts he would have gone out of business next year.

On Monday morning, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, stopped by Hampton Harbor to observe the opening of dredging operations. She helped secure approval of the mitigation efforts in the bipartisan America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018.

Shaheen released a video statement on Twitter, saying a representative for the contract tells her that in a month-and-a-half the affected section of the harbor will be in much better shape. She expects it will be fully navigational again next spring.

Eastman said the last time the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredged the harbor, they did a good job. That work started in November of 2012 and finished in 2013.

Eastman’s company was founded by his grandfather in 1946 and brings people on deep-sea fishing trips and whale watches from their location in Seabrook.

Eastman said between the dredging and the fishing conditions being perfect, he is now looking forward to bringing more people out this fall.

Sand shoaling in Hampton Harbor has also been problematic for Capt. Bob Tonkin of Captain Bob’s Lobster Tours and Fishing Charters in Hampton.

Tonkin had to cancel an outing in September 2018 when his boat, Miss Ava Lee, got stuck on a sandbar.

Tonkin said on Tuesday the dredging vessels are a welcome sight.

Hampton Harbor is New Hampshire’s largest commercial fishing port. Approximately 1,500 recreational vehicles are launched through Hampton River Marina every year and the marina is estimated to be the single largest contributor to the Hampton economy.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019
Tuesday, November 12, 2019