The boats are painted and mechanically sound. Nearby,the traps are stacked high. All are eager for the season to get underway, to get back out to the high seas, to struggle with the elements and bring home the catch.
April 30th before dawn breaks, hands will be baiting the traps (often with mackerel) while others will be hoisting them and handing them into the boats. Extra help from family and friends join in for trap day. Once piled almost sky high they will head out from Launching harbour, scurrying to the choicest grounds, based on information passed down from generation to generation. The lobster traps will be lowered to the sea floor and identified by buoys. Daily visits to empty these will ensure the best catch possible. Of course, the fishers now have the advantage of modern technology and communication. Depth is accurately measured and lobsters easily seen on the onboard screens. Long gone are the days of the dory with only a simple compass to guide the courageous men who headed out with no method to communicate with shore. How quickly things have changed since my uncles first fished that way up to the 1940’s!
Today’s brave men and women also head out in the cold, dark, very early mornings of May and June. They battle the winds and waves to harvest the gifts of the sea to set on our tables. Theirs is seasonal work with no guarantees. They head out with confident hope on April 30 that they will have a bountiful catch and a fair market price. Their earnings will have to cover salaries, fuel, and supplies, as well as boat maintenance and insurance. It will also be what sustains their families throughout the winter months, in fact the entire 10 months when fishing is not permitted. How fortunate that we have a system of EI (or had) to help make ends meet. I wonder how many MP’s would accept such working conditions with such financial remuneration. But bitterness is not part of the fisher philosophy. Honest, hard work is their pride.
Good luck to you all this season. May you return home safely each day with a bountiful load. Enjoy the feast of the first day’s catch!