In a July 1980 interview conducted by folklorist Peggy Bulger, longtime net maker and Fernandina resident Billy Burbank III discusses the history and practices of the net making trade. The interview begins with Burbank describing how his grandfather began the family business, Burbank Trawl Makers Inc., in 1915.
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Only a few basic tools are used by the net makers: a small 6" cutting knife imported from Sweden; shuttles; needle-nose pliers for splicing work; cable cutters for cutting combination cables; and boat cutters for cutting chains.
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Burbank nets have been used by people in the U.S. from North Carolina down to Florida and up the Gulf Coast through the Texas Panhandle area. They have also been exported to Central and South America and Africa. When Peggy Bulger interviewed Billy Burbank III in 1980, Burbank Trawl Makers was the largest producer of fishing nets in the United States.
Stories about the family business tell of nets made for President Richard Nixon and a fishing boat that accidentally caught a submarine in its trawl nets.
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Burbank describes the different net types and their uses, including flat nets, four-seam balloon nets, two-seam balloon nets, and a modification that he developed called the Mongoose, which is actually two nets in one. He also describes the net making process and the various tools and skills involved.
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