Friday, November 11, 2016

‘Fishing is where my heart is,’ but young people aren’t welcome in the NL fishery. Here’s why:

I was mailed this note today (Nov. 11th), and the writer asked to remain anonymous.

Hi Mr. Cleary,

I just wanted to write you to let you know that I and my family support you 100%. 

My father is a small-boat, inshore fisherman who has fished since he was eight years old, and had his own boat since he was 16. 

My father came from a family of 10 — five boys, five girls. His father was also a fisherman, and two of his brothers currently fish for a living as well. Unfortunately, neither of his brothers have children who fish; I am the only one — the only one of my generation who has followed in the family footsteps. 

I have fished with my father every summer since I was 14 years old (I'm now 30). Both my mother and father live off of their fishing income, so as I got older I was forced to seek employment elsewhere in order to make a living. 

I currently work as a 4th-year residential electrician, and plan to write my journeyman exam next year. However, I have still continued to fish every single year from April to June with both my mother and father (the entirety of our crew). 

Although I enjoy working in the electrical field, fishing is where my heart is. I dearly love being on the water fishing, and have always dreamed of turning that passion into a livelihood. 

As my father gets older, and closer to retirement — like many other fishermen in this province — I hold on to hope that I can one day make that dream a reality, but every day it becomes more evident that it may never be possible.

I would love to take over my father’s enterprise one day soon, but the current regulations make that virtually impossible, especially for small-boat fishermen. 

I'm sure you are aware, but as it stands right now, in order to obtain a Level 2 certificate a person must have earned at least 70/75% of their earnings from fishing for five consecutive years. 

This is absolutely impossible for me as my father is an inshore fisherman with only one crab quota, which, as I mentioned above, both my mother and father live off of. I would never be able to survive on only fishing income. 

It would be so sad to see all of these generations of fishing come to an end, heartbreaking actually, due to a technicality such as this one. 

I hope that you can make a change before it's too late. I am sure that I am not the only one in this situation, and it would be devastating to lose rural Newfoundland and the small outports that this province was built on. 

No comments: