Point Pleasant: The meaning of fresh
The first real settlement in the Point Pleasant area was Lovelandtown, a fishing and clamming village established by Charles Loveland in 1810. It occupied an area east of what is now the Point Pleasant Canal and south of Bridge Avenue.
By the 1830s, the first cluster of about 30 homes served as the base of operations for the village, which consisted largely of Loveland family members. Over the decades, the family would produce a long line of baymen making their livelihoods in fishing, boat- building, decoy carving and guiding fishing boats.
The waters around Point Pleasant gave ample reason for the settlers to base their lives around fishing. In 1898, Captain Edward Loveland reported hauling in 2,600 pounds of perch in one day off Mantoloking. By the late 1800s and early 1900s, the baymen branched out into manning the coastal life-saving stations and taking tourists on fishing trips. In the late 1880s, tourists could take a daylong fishing trip on a catboat for the sum of four dollars.
One important event in the ongoing development of fishing and aquaculture was the construction of the Point Pleasant Canal. Though planned throughout the late-1800s, the canal didn’t get started until 1916, when a $30,000 appropriation from the State Legislature enabled the beginning of construction. However, it was suspended soon after for World War I, then restarted again at the war’s end. On December 15, 1925, a scoop dredge lifted the soil that would send the salt waters of the Point Pleasant Bay into the Manasquan River for the first time.
Today, the port of Point Pleasant remains a major venue for fishing and aquaculture in New Jersey. In 2003, the port brought in over 22 million pounds of finfish and shellfish valued at more than $37 million. The fleet – consisting of sea clam dredgers, day boat trawlers and gill net boats – return to the port daily, meaning the catch is truly fresh. This has helped the dock operators partner with a local upscale food store to run a “catch-of- the-day” promotion emphasizing the local harvest.
The Fishermen’s Dock Cooperative at Point Pleasant operates two docks, an ice-making machine, cold storage facility, retail store and a truck-loading station. The cooperative’s strength lies in its marketing strategy and service to members.