There were strange doings during this summer’s food fishery. The day after the tragic death of a man fishing near Bell Island on opening day, some people were back on the water … without life-jackets.
We did a lot more fishing than in previous years. Some days we went out twice. Every time, without exception, we saw people in boats not wearing life-jackets.
You feel like shouting, “Do you realize a man died a couple of miles from here?”
Some people’s general lack of awareness is astounding. They must never pay attention to the news.
They must think that being accidently knocked into ice-cold water a mile from shore won’t pose a life-threatening dilemma. They must be Olympic swimmers.
There seems to be a direct causal relationship between motorboats and the wearing of life-jackets, i.e., the faster a craft is capable of moving, the less likely it is that its occupants will be wearing life-jackets.
I didn’t take notes while observing this from our manpowered and womanpowered dory, so a scientific correlation can’t be proven.
Perhaps there is a macabre logic at work.
Maybe some motor-boaters figure if they hit the water at that speed it will kill them anyway, so it doesn’t matter whether or not they wear a life-jacket.
(Please don’t tell me to use the obnoxious term “personal flotation device,” which sounds like the user is in a laboratory experimental pool rather than on the ocean.)
Speaking of being on the Blue — to use an old phrase — some people continue to stubbornly insist that boats barely fit for a calm pond are somehow good enough to go cod fishing on the North Atlantic.
We saw one that looked like a toy. It held two men.
“Their motor sounds like an egg beater,” the Missus said.
A good adage is “know your limitations” — of yourself and your gear.
We don’t go more than a 20-minute row from our berth.
It gets us to some good fishing grounds, but if the weather turns we can be back at the wharf before the wind and swells get seriously worse.
It has happened a few times.
Snapping a tole pin due to pressure from an oar was one reminder of the power of the water.
Bringing fish in to the wharf is a grand way to meet people.
We talked to tourists from Australia (visiting family in N.L., of course). We saw old friends we hadn’t run into for a year or two.
Old-timers tend to gravitate to the cutting table and, luckily for me, are intent on giving filleting tips.
With their help, my skills keep improving.
Several years ago, my initial efforts prompted me to explain that, where I grew up, “fish” meant frozen breaded fish sticks — a meal that, on the disgusting scale, was surpassed only by liver.
A cooler containing 10 cod is a good conversation-starter.
One fellow admiring our daily catch turned out to be a long-liner skipper in one of the bays out around.
He was going after cod pretty soon, he told us.
I asked him if he was involved in the sentinel fishery. No, he said. I asked if he was taking cod as bycatch. No again.
He was given a quota of 5,000 pounds of cod.
Apparently, the cod moratorium is over.
Similarly, the food fishery should end, and people should once again be allowed to go after a few fish for personal use.
If long-liners are being granted cod quotas in the thousands of pounds, there is no justification for limiting personal fishing to three weeks during the summer.
Brian Jones is a desk editor
at The Telegram. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
and can be found on Facebook.