In Conversation with Bob Granter, 1997

This year Greenspond celebrates 300 years of English settlement. The reason people came to Greenspond was to catch fish. Fish and fishing has changed greatly over the past 500 years since John Cabot first sighted Bonavista. The following interview is with Bob Granter, professional fisherman. Bob was born and raised in Greenspond. He went to school here and remembers well, like many other Newfoundland men, being called in the early morning to go and tend the nets with his father before going to school.  This interview took place at the home of Bob and Hettie (Rideout) Granter on May 17, 1997. Bob and Hettie have three children: Susan, Tracey, and Tina. Tina attends Memorial University while Tracey has a Science degree and is working at aquaculture in Baie d’Espoir on a work term. Susan lives in British Columbia. I would like to thank the Granters for their warm hospitality.

Now then Bob, we’ll start at the beginning as I tell each person I interview. We’ll start with your mother and father’s names and then I want you to tell me all about the fishery.

My father’s name is Marshall, Marshall Granter. And my mother is Annie. She was Annie Jerrett. John Jerrett’s sister and Dan Jerrett was her brother as well. Marshall Granter’s parents were Carrie and James Granter. She was Caroline Feltham from Fair Island and moved into Gambo. I think she was from Fair Island. Annie’s parents were William and Lavinia Jerrett. She was a Wakeley before she married.

Lavinia was a popular name down this way. It was in that book we were talking about by Bernice Morgan, Random Passage.

Yes, that was a great book. I read  them both. Random Passage and Waiting for Time.

Now then Bob I want to know all about fishing. What is the size of the boat? The length? Is it what they call a longliner?

Yes, she’s a longliner. She’s 45 feet. She is owned by me and Arthur Jerrett.

Do you fish for cod? If there wasn’t a moratorium. How do you share up the cost and work?

Cod was never a big part of our fishery. Turbot was our mainstay, grey sole and flounder. That’s the ground fishery fish. Then there’s the pelagic, that’s caplin, herring, mackerel and then the last few years there’s been crab. Right now the first fishery we usually has is the lump.

What’s lump?

They’re big black fish. You fish that for the roe, the caviar. That starts up on Monday. It usually starts in May month, early May, but ice conditions this year has postponed it.

Now when you go out lump fishing on Monday, how many goes? Do you have a crew?

Myself and Art Jerrett have the longliner between us but with the lump myself and Art has a license each for lump, so we go in separate boats for that. Art got half the crew with him and I got the other half with me. Art got three and I got two. The longliner crew is myself and Arthur, Don, my brother Don, Jeffrey Carter, and Bela Rogers, that’s my brother in law. He lives in Catalina. And Art’s young fella, Scott, usually fishes with us in the summertime.

Now when you go out for lump, what boat do you go out in?

I goes out in an 18 foot speed boat. Myself, and Don and Bela goes at that. And Art and Jeff goes out in their boat.

And how do you fish for lump? Nets?

You haul lump with gill nets. There’s a time limit on how long you can fish. It’s four weeks this year. Starting Monday. And there’s a limit to how many nets you can use. You can only use forty nets. One time there was unlimited amount. So now they got it cut back to 40 nets a license holder.

So you got a license and Art got a license?


So what do you do when you go out Monday morning? Put out 40 nets?

Yes, put out 40 nets.

Where do you put them to? Is that a secret?  (Bob has a good laugh here at my questions)

No, it’s not a big secret, Linda maid. But I tell you there’ll be some state of nets. That’s a real problem. You really can’t find room to put them out. I usually goes down around Flower’s Island, Pouch Island, Butterfly Island, off Newtown and Wesleyville.

So what do the people down there think of you from Greenspond putting nets down there?

Oh that never be’s a problem. That’s our traditional fishing ground, down around Flower’s Island. That’s normal fishing grounds for us, for Greenspond, over the years. But they fellows fish there too. There do be a mix of gear there, though. But there is never no problem.

So, do you put forty nets out together?

No, no. In fleets of two. There are two nets in a fleet. So that’ll be twenty sets of nets. We spread them out. You try to maximize your effort. You spread them out because you don’t know when you are going to hit some lump. That’s the problem those years. There’s not very much to be found.

So what are these nets like? Are all nets the same?

No. You hang them They hang diamond shape. They’re set in a straight line but they sit on the bottom. There is ten and half inch mesh. Lump is only about 18 inches long. They’re right round. No, no scales. There’s  like barnacles on them. Ugliest things. The money is good though. They’re worth this year, starting off, about $2.50 a pound. That’s a pretty good price. Last year it went up over three dollars a pound.

So how do you share that out among the crew?

Well, usually the boat takes a share, and then we split the difference equally then. Different crews take different shares.

I remember hearing that years ago there was such a thing as half share and quarter share.

No, it don’t work like that no more. Usually the boat takes a share. Meself and Art owns all the gear. We provides all the equipment, gas and all the repairs, so you have to take a share for the boat.

So on Monday morning when you goes out will you manage to get all those nets out at one time? What time do you leave Greenspond?

Oh, yes. I leave about five o’clock Monday morning. It takes about half an hour steaming to get to the fishing ground. Half an hour, three parts of an hour.

So you sets out all them nets.

Yes, you puts them all out and then goes back Tuesday morning and start hauling them.

Hard work.

Well, that’s it. It’s not hard work when there is any fish, when there is no fish, it’s hard work. Frustrating. That’s not our main fishery. There’s a number of other fisheries.

So what’s after lump?

Well, this year it looks like it’s going to be caplin, because we’re in a dispute with the crab fishery right now. There’s a tie up, nobody’s fishing.

So there’s no crab fishery now.

Well, the price will have to be better than what it is now. It’s sixty-five cents a pound. That’s down from $2.50 two years ago.

So who decides the price?

The Union and the processors. There’s usually negotiations between the union and the processors. FANL gets a price from the market place. Up in Nova Scotia right now they’re paying something like $1.50 a pound.

When would the crab fishery usually start?

Usually in April month we start up and go right on through right on up until October, November. There’s big quotas now.

That’s labour intensive isn’t it? Putting out all those crab pots.

Yes, it’s labour intensive but there’s machines that does lot of the work. Well, manually you got to bait the pot. Set it out.

I was down on the government wharf last year and watched them bait the pots. All the pots are joined together. I didn’t know that. They’re not like lobster pots.

No, we don’t use them singly. We use them in fleets. We use fleets of fifty. Fifty pots in a fleet. We got a limit on how many pots we can use. We can use 150 pots. 150 pots per license holder.

How many license holders are there? Are you always a license holder?

We got licenses about ten years ago. Me and Art. The fleet we fish in, there is 244 license holders. There’s other fleets too – supplementary, large supplementary, full time, under 35 feet. It’s complicated. But you got to know it. Fishing is not what it was like one time. It’s complicated. Everything is quotas, seasons, I mean, you can’t just get up tomorrow morning and say you’re going fishing. If someone didn’t know about fishing and saw you sitting around they’d say why aren’t you out fishing. Someone who didn’t know, come from away would say the fishermen down in Greenspond are some lazy – ten boats tied on. You can’t just go fishing. It’s not allowed. We got to wait for opening dates, quotas.

It always seems to me listening to the Fisheries Broadcast that they are always so late announcing openings and limits. It seems that Jim Wellman is always trying to reach Mifflin’s office to find out dates and quotas.

Yes, there’s a reason for that. There’s so many stakeholders in it. And in trying to formulate good management plans, they tries to hear from all the stakeholders. And then of course you got the politics of it. And the political will to do things and change. There’s never a political will to change things. That’s typical of what’s happening up in 3PS now.

They’re opening up a fishery there that’s been closed, a full moratorium for the past six or seven years and they really haven’t done a thing in this world to change the gear size, just gone on back to the same old thing. Same old gear. The fishermen have recommended changes but the politicians will not act upon it.

3PS, that’s down by St. Pierre.

Yes, that area. The same with the turbot fishery. The turbot fishery is going ahead this year with the same old thing. We’re using the same old gear, the same old technology. They should change the mesh size, change the size of the nets. Make it bigger to let the smaller fish get through. But they don’t listen.

Why don’t they change it? What do you think?

Politics. Nobody wants to change anything. I could go on and on about the moratorium. It’s ridiculous they haven’t took the time to really change it. There’s no plan.

So, now then, after the lump fishery there’s the crab and then what?

Crab has a quota. Most all fleets now got their individual quotas. One time we fished it on a competitive basis. There’s 243 licenses in 3L – that’s from St. Mary’s Bay to Cape Freels. That’s in our fleet. There’s also a large supplementary fleet. Over 40 ton. I’m under forty ton. There’s a full time fleet operating in 3L as well. I’m not sure the number of boats in there. And now we got a new addition to the crab fishery, we got the under 35 which is under 35 foot and that’s down into the speed boats. 18 and 20 foot boat.

Now then if you were out crab fishing, who would be the crew?

On the longliner it is all of the crew. The only fishery we’re separated for is the lump. There’s six of us.

Now, last summer I was down on the wharf watching them load the crab pots on board and they were putting them on one by one and baiting them. What do you use for bait?

Squid. Beothic Processors usually has a good supply of squid for bait. You bait them and then when you are steaming out you heave them off the boat. In the bottom of the pot there’s a string and you lace them up, tie them up. You wouldn’t be able to stack them up on board the boat if you laced them up first. And then when you take them back on board the boat you undo the string and the crab just drops out. You didn’t see us baiting them on the wharf. We always baits the pots as we are going along. We got lots of room on board the boat to bait them as we are throwing them over the side. Most of the boys baits them on the wharf.

What time do you go out?

Well, we have quotas in the bay. There’s four different zones. Last year our outside zone was 56 or 57 miles off.

56 or 57 miles off Greenspond? What do you do put all your pots out and then come in and go out the next morning and check your pots?

No. We rarely comes back in. We fish all while we are out there. We usually lets the pots fish and haul while we are out there. After three or four hours we start taking them back. And we do that repeatedly. When you got your trip of crab, your load of crab, you come back in and you let your pots stand. We don’t usually take any break. We go on  through the day and night. We keep going usually 48 or 50 hours, working on the crab.

It’s a hard life. Getting up 5 o’clock in the morning and going out in all weather.

That’s all changed too. Traditionally you got up early in the mornings but with the longliners it’s different. One of the boats left yesterday morning 6 o’clock and another one left at one thirty. They’re possibly gone for five or six days. When they come in they have their fish iced down. They’re probably fishing fifteen or sixteen hours a day. Perhaps even up towards twenty hours a day. But the small boat fishery is up at five and work until dark. You see the small boats don’t have navigational aids or lights to work with.

Do you have ice on board your boat? Do you do anything with the crab when you take it out of the pots.

Oh, yes. We have ice on board. We do no processing on board. Crab is just brought into the plant.

The crab is weighed as they are, in the shell? That’s 65 cents a pound. It’s all shell, isn’t it?

Yes, that’s what you would think but there is a good yield from crab. There’s about 30 per cent yield.

Do you fish for lobster?

No. This is not a good area for lobster. There’s only so many fish you can get into.

After lump and crab what do you fish?

Well, this year we’re hoping to get back at turbot.

Is turbot traditionally fished here? When you were a boy did they fish for turbot?

No, not when I was a boy. Matter of fact there was not many other fish utilized then besides cod. Cod was it. But as cod got scarcer other species were utilized. I came back fishing in 1978 – meself and Art and Gord – and cod was never a part of our fishery. Only a very small part of it. Turbot started getting good through the 1970s.

Is turbot like cod? Do we eat turbot?

No. Turbot is like flounder. In the market place it was known as Greenland halibut. It’s similar to halibut but a lot greasier.

So what kind of nets do you use for turbot? The same as the ones you use for lump?

No. A much smaller mesh. Five and a half inch mesh. But the larger boats that’s going out in the deep water is using eight inch mesh, I think. It’s quite a bit bigger. They’re getting really big turbot out there. They’re fishing that out in 600 and 700 hundred fathoms of water, where our fishery is within 200 fathoms of water.

You have a set of nets for lump, you got crab pots for crab, and you got another set of nets for turbot. How far off do you go, Bob?

We go out through the east and the southeast. Out towards Cape Freels, Funk Island banks.

Now then, we got lump, crab, turbot, what’s next?

We forgot caplin. Caplin is usually a June and early July fishery. Before turbot. Turbot don’t get good until after the caplin cause the turbot feeds off the caplin. They glut up and lie on the bottom. They’re easier to catch then. Caplin has really been a major fishery over the years. I started fishing caplin, I suppose, some of the first caplin fished here was in 1977 and ’78. We started fishing it in 1980. It was really good through the 80s. Then everything went haywire. The cod went and, I believe, contrary to popular belief, a lot of problems was climatic. Cold water, temperatures. We experienced a lot of problems other than overfishing. I don’t want to diminish the role of overfishing but climatic conditions played a part. Fish got smaller, everything got smaller. Caplin got smaller. We were using big mesh gear, 7 and a half and 8 inch mesh, and we kept bringing the size of that down until we got 5 and a half inch mesh. Matter of fact some gear was using 5 inch and 5 and a quarter. Unlike caplin, we always used a purse seiner or a — seiner, and that was only three quarter inch mesh. We kept everything we caught. It wasn’t selective fishing. So why did the caplin get smaller? It had to be climatic.

So, do you use nets for caplin?

No we use mobile gear. — Seine, purse seine. You put out a net, 150 fathoms. You put it out in the round. It’s a straight net but you put it out in a circle. You put it around a school of caplin.

So, you look for the caplin and then you put the net around them? Trap them?

Yes, we use sonar to find them. Then we put the net around and pull it together on the bottom, purse seine. Years ago before they had sonar they would wait until they rolled into shore. But they don’t roll like they used to all the same. The caplin we get is usually for the roe. It’s valuable on the Japanese market. All they pack is the female caplin. Normally the male caplin just goes for offal or took out and dumped. There’s no value in the male caplin. Same as the lump.

Right. So when you catch lump you only keep the female. Is it easy to tell the male from the female?

Oh, yes. You don’t catch many male. The male are much smaller. Usually red in colour as well. The female is black and is much, much bigger.

So there’s lump, crab, turbot, caplin. Anything else?

Herring. In the fall of the year. We do have a spring and a fall quota but this year we only got a fall quota. We fish that the same as caplin, ring seine, purse seine. No, not the same seine. No I got another seine for that, a different size. That’s an inch and quarter seine. We calls it seine, not nets. There’s floaters here on top and leads on the bottom. When you sets it out, your speed boat leaves the longliner from the stem of the longliner and steams away with the end of the seine and the longliner steams in the opposite direction and you makes a complete circle back. And then you picks up the end of the seine from your punt and hopefully there’s lots and lots of fish in here. You takes the two ends and wrap it around your wench and enclose the fish. You haul back the seine and haul back the seine and you drives up the fish in a little small area and then you dips out with your dip net. No, not by hand. Your dip net is on your wench. I’ve been three days never laid down while at the caplin.

Yes, I know. Over on Ship Island I’ve heard the fish plant going all day and night with the caplin. A good sound the fish plant going all night.

Yes. We fish caplin from St. Mary’s Bay to White Bay.

You go right down to St. Mary’s Bay in your longliner?

Yes. We don’t stop anywhere, not normally. Once last year we left St. John’s four o’clock in the morning and we steamed right on down to Notre Dame Bay. The caplin was supposed to be thick. You can fish from Cape Bauld to St. Mary’s Bay. We never stopped nowhere. We went down to Notre Dame Bay, we got there the next morning and the caplin was not suitable. Then we got word that St. Mary’s Bay was open and so we turned around and steamed on back and there was a boat broke down coming up through the run and I towed she up to Musgrave Harbour and I left that, never tied on, came into Greenspond and picked up some food, and some money, got a shower. I was in here for one hour and went on again and we never stopped no more until we got to St. Mary’s Bay, Admiral’s Beach, St. Mary’s Bay. From here to St. Mary’s Bay is roughly thirty-two hours.

You run into rough weather? Is it rough?

No, Linda maid, that is not a factor. When you’re out there it doesn’t matter. It’s really not a problem.

So, Bob, when was the first time you went fishing?

Well, the first time I went fishing when I was six years old, I used to go out with my grandfather. That was Grandfather Jerrett, William. Yes, he used to live on back of the island but he was living over here then. He took me fishing with him, he had a salmon net and I had one. I guess I was ten or eleven years old when I started going out with father. I used to go out in the morning before I went to school. That was in the speed boat. We’d go out in the mornings and come back in and I’d go to school and in the evenings, after school, I’d go out again. We still had the gill nets then. Through the high school years I went fishing. Then when I finished high school I was sick of it. I went to university for a year. I went to summer school and got a teacher’s license. That was in 1969. A probationer’s license. Then I got married. I had a few labour jobs around. I got a job with the Department of Highways. I worked out on the roads as a time keeper for a summer or two. We had a house in there. Bought it in 1974, it was a new subdivision, Chaplin Crescent. We were the second family to move in up there. I worked with the Highways Department until 1977, I was in the payroll division in the White Hills. Then I bought a longliner and came back fishing. And I can tell you I have been contented ever since.

So what made you buy a longliner and go back fishing?

At that time it was easy access to it. There was the introduction of the 200 mile limit. And the provincial government was heavily pushing, encouraging you to get into the fishery. We all gave up good jobs. Art was a mechanic at the brewery. Gord was working with the Highways at the time. That’s my brother, Gordon.

So the longliner you bought in 1977, is that the one you got now?

No, this is the third one we got there now.

How much does a longliner cost?

Well, the one we bought in 1977 cost us $32,000.

That was about the cost of a house in St. John’s at that time, was it?

I paid $26,000 for the house I had in St. John’s then. That was a townhouse. The longliner was second hand. We got a loan from the Provincial Government. Low interest, three and a half per cent. We must have had she for about three years. She got into disrepair so we bought another one, from a fellow in Musgrave Harbour.

What was the name of the first boat? Where did you buy her?

The Shelley Marie. We bought her up in Renews from Albert Kean. The second was called the Betty Joy Yvonne. That was the names of the daughters of three of the fellows who owned her. We bought her from a fellow Abbott. Max and Leo and — Abbott. We was down in Musgrave Harbour one time and, you know Dennis Carter, don’t you, well, we was after having some trouble with this boat, and we was down Musgrave Harbour fishing and this fellow came on the wharf and he was after marrying one of the daughters, and he said to Dennis, “you know I’m married to one of the daughters that that boat is called after”. “Well”, says Dennis, “if you got so much trouble with her as we got with the boat there’s not much odds about it.” Buddy didn’t have much else to say and he just walked on again. Dennis used to fish with us, see, but then he got married and moved into St. John’s. We had some fun times. Then we got the Lady Harvester. We did a lot of work on that boat too. We got that one from someone else. She was put up on tender. We paid $20,000. That was a gift. That boat is valued now around $250,000.

What would a brand new boat cost?

A 45 foot longliner now, fully-equipped, I’d say would run you close to half a million dollars. I knows a man getting one built now and just the hull, just the boat itself, no engine, not even completed inside, just the shuck, she’s $200,000. No engine, no equipment. An engine for her is roughly between $80,000 and $100,000. The equipment, the engine room, the shaft and blades and stuff like that. You’re not talking no electronic gear. A sonar would run you $20,000, just one piece of equipment. Repairs and maintenance, gas, insurance, CSI inspections, and the licensing fees.

So, you have to buy a license for each species?

Oh, yes, my dear. The Federal Government this year is hoping to take 40 million dollars in fees. It cost me $1400 this year for a crab license. And I haven’t got access to a lot of crab. Fellows who got access to a lot of crab. Well, it’s $58.40 a ton, that’s what it is for your crab license. So if you got 300 tons of crab you got … I got about 35 or 40 ton. License fee for caplin is $100. Herring is $100. Turbot, I think it’s $30 for turbot. $50 for lump plus you got to buy tags to go in your nets. That’s $15. for a box of tags. That’s to make sure you don’t use over 40 nets. You have to put the tag on each net. See, they’re numbered, 40 tags. Fishing has changed a lot. You needs one fellow keeping track of the paperwork and all the regulations. Yes, I keeps the books, Linda maid.

Bob, do you bring your fish here to the plant in Greenspond?

Well, Beothic Processors owns the fish plant here. Our caplin is usually off loaded here but it depends on where we are. It is trucked in if we are up in St. Mary’s Bay. Yes, the only people who buys my fish is Beothic. So, no matter where you’re to and what you’re catching it all goes to Beothic Processors for processing. Do you have a contract or is just understood? No just understood. Beothic is an excellent company to deal with. You always knows where you stand. There’s no trouble with pay roll. And their workers are the best paid. Best working conditions. The fish plant here in Greenspond plays a minor role now. They process caplin here. Most of the Greenspond people works at the plant in Valleyfield. I think they has a turnover there of about 1300 employees a year. There’s about 6 or 700 employed at any one time. Boyd Way’s son, Kevin, is running it now. Harry Harding from Greenspond is general manager there. They’re a fine bunch. They’ll back you all the way.

There used to be a fishery loan board, but not anymore, is there? Do you get your loans through the bank?

Yes, you do most of it now through the banks. There’s a lot of misconceptions out there. You hear people say that fishermen get all those government handouts, subsidies. That’s not true. I’ve been fishing since 1978 and there’s been no government giving me anything in that period. There’s no grants for buying boats, no bounty. You pay full shot for everything you’re going to buy. Taxes is the highest kind.

So you’re like a private business. You have to pay taxes just like you were running a small business.

Canada Pension, I has to pay that at the employee rate and the employer rate. The crew has to pay their own Canada Pension at about four or five per cent. I have to pay Unemployment Insurance too at employer and employee rates. But this area has been fortunate, though. The moratorium has had no major, or devastating, effect here.

Yes, it’s quite different for fishermen on the other side of the bay, in Catalina and Bonavista.

The Catalina plant, yes. I was going over to Catalina when there was a dragger a day coming into that plant with codfish. And now it’s closed. There’s not one single thing doing. And those people were thrust entirely upon TAGS, they never had no other way. But we here in Greenspond diversified our fishing effort. Even though we qualify for the full TAGS benefits, I mean, I’d say there’s not one fisherman here who’s drawn over $5000 from TAGS since it started. In any given year. And in the case of fish plant workers, they don’t draw nothing whatsoever. Not one penny.

And to hear it in the news you’d think every fisherman in Newfoundland was sitting down watching television all day and the biggest kind of cheques coming in through the mail.

That’s what makes some of those protest groups so angry. Some people got every right to be angry. Like those people in Catalina, they got every right to be protesting.

Now why did Beothic Processors know to diversify? I mean did Boyd Way make these decisions? Was he the type of manager to know that you should diversify? Or were there lots of talk of underutilised species?

Oh, yes, he was a good enough manager. He started diversifying long before the moratorium. They made sure they had a good fleet of boats built up with good fishermen in those boats. I’d say that Beothic Fish got some of the best boats and best fishermen. I’m not including meself in that, you know. Boyd Way operated a small operation in Newtown for a number of years and then he moved up into Valleyfield. That was an experimental plant. He took it over and he ran it. He did quite well. He expanded that. Besides that plant and Greenspond, he owns the one in Musgrave Harbour and he got one in Bridgeport. They’re feeder plants. There’s not enough product to run them all flat out.

Do all the fishermen around here from Musgrave Harbour to here in Greenspond, do they all bring their fish to Beothic Processors?

Yes, I’d say 90 per cent do. They also got fishermen in St. Mary’s Bay that fishes for them. And I believe they buys crab from fishermen on the west coast. Trout River and that.

John Efford (Minister of Fisheries) says he is going to close some plants. Some are to stay and some to go. Has he announced that yet? Will Greenspond be alright?

He has made the announcement. He set down ground rules. He hasn’t singled out any plants. But if you meet the criteria, you’re alright. There’s no problem here. There’s an excellent relation with the workers, the fishermen. There’s been some rough times, down turns. But the plant here is okay.

So Bob, where did you grow up?

I grew up right here. Right next door to this place. The fishery right now, for the past few years has been interesting, you know. There’s a bright future in the fishery. I mean you look at the quality of boats around now and the fish plants. People got nice homes – that’s from the fishery.

Bob, did you know that the name Granter used to Grunter?

Yes, I was telling Tina that a few days ago. She was doing work on the Court House. As a matter of fact it’s been only in recent years that some of the older people gave up calling Granters Grunters. Poor ol’ Frank Knee down over the hill there he used to call Granters, Grunters.

Hettie, what was your maiden name?


Oh, so you’re part of the Humphries-Rideout family.

Yes, Hettie’s grandfather’s mother came from Greenspond. She was a Burry. Annie Burry. Her grandfather was Llewellyn Rideout. Her mother was Alice Humphries. Somebody asked her grandfather why he liked jam so much and he said his mother was a Burry from Greenspond. Her grandfather, Llewellyn, was a great storyteller. He died last summer. I used to encourage him to write. He wrote a lot. Lots of stories and poems. I spent hours listening to him. He used to say to me “Bob, this is worth a million dollars to have you come and visit me.” They moved down to Carter’s home. He was born in Cape Freels and he married Hettie Humphries and she died in childbirth with Jim, that’s James Rideout, and then he married, seven or eight years later, to Mabel Best from Wesleyville. James Rideout married Alice Humphries.

Which story do you like best that he wrote?

Oh, the unemployment poem. A lot of people knew the significance of getting unemployment and not getting it and especially first when it came in. Get your stamps. But see they wouldn’t count lobster stamps. That wasn’t insurable.

So, where were we on the fishery?

We were talking about Beothic Fisheries. It’s the mainstay of this area. Greenspond fishermen was always the backbone of it.

Do you hunt seals?

Yes, from my boat. I didn’t go out to the seal hunt, not out to the ice.

Yes, that’s where you were when you ran ashore. Well, we can start and end with the famous story. That’s when I found out what a leading light was. I heard of it on the Fisheries Broadcast. Leading Light, List of Lights, but I had no idea what it meant.

There was seven of us out that trip hunting seals. We use rifles, that’s the only method permitted. We had a day’s hunting, we had a hundred or so seals on board. That day we was off 32 miles. There was a storm coming up, there was a storm forecast. So lots of boats were coming in that night. The ice ran in the bay and right on across over, taking on Offer Island. So we had to go right in the bay to get around the ice. We came on down, we came in, really in towards the western part of Greenspond. We came on down on the back part of Copper Island. When we got down around Puffin Island far enough, I just hauled on in for the light on Pound Rock. He was working, you know. Now, as you gets across the harbour, the lights blend with the community lights and it is hard to distinguish. This may sound like I’m trying to make excuses but I’m not. And I came on, totally relaxed, about 10 o’clock in the night. A beautiful star light night. Not a cloud in the sky. I should have known that the two lights should have been visible to me. The two leading lights.

Where are they situated?

One is situated right on the wharf itself and the other one is just in on back of the fish plant. He’s on a frame. You got to line them up, one of them is lower than the other and they should come in line. I just wasn’t paying attention and that light was out. I came on across and then all of a sudden the back leading light started to close in by the fish plant. In my own mind I thought I had gone across the harbour too far. At the same time two of the boys, Graham White and me brother, Gordon, went out on deck to see the light on Pound Rocks, because it was hard to see in the wheel house because the lights of the instruments. At the instant that I noticed that the light was blend in I stood up and when I did that’s when she struck. She was in on the point further that I thought. It was some shock. First reaction, of course, was anyone overboard. We checked that out and the injuries. Nothing serious. Justin has his nose beat up. Done a bit of damage to the boat. We got in the harbour, but you couldn’t get out the next day for ice. Then the next day when the ice cleared out I brought her down to the Marine Centre. In Wesleyville.

So when you go to the Marine Centre to get your boat fixed do you have to pay?

Oh, yes, indeed. I wasn’t capable of doing all of the work, put in the stem. But I did the fibreglass. You had to lift her right out of the water. It cost about $150 to take her out of the water and another $150 to put her back in again. And then there’s the cost of storage while you’re there.

So who owns the Marine Centre?

All those marine centres were government owned one time but they’ve been privatized. Davis Shipping owns the one here in Wesleyville. I don’t know if it’s a buy out or a lease.

Davis Shipping. Is that the same crowd that had the ferry?

Oh, yes. The price is the same now as when it was government run. The prices are good. Now, that accident was one you heard of but there’s lots of narrow escapes. You’ll never know.

What, aren’t you going to tell me? Have you ever been really scared?

You never think about that stuff. When you get into a situation you got to make the best of it. You can get caught in a storm, but there’s lots of aids today. There’s good forecasting. It’s not so dangerous as it was when there was no forecasting and they relied on the weather glass. Other than that you had to watch the sky. No. I’m not afraid. Not afraid on the water but I hates to get water splashed in my face.

So, Hettie, have you found a picture of him that I can put in The Greenspond Letter? Oh, yes, that’s the one that’s on all the place mats and postcards. Who’s in the picture?

That’s me with no cap on and that’s Dennis and the girl is the one that was with the whale research crew from the university. And that’s Arthur and Gordon. The girl was picking up a flatfish that was in the net. She asked Dennis how to get the flatfish out of the trap, see. Because the mesh was right small. And Dennis was a real character and he says “if you watches that one long enough, he’ll lose weight and you’ll be able to pull it through.”

Bob, I never asked you how many brothers and sisters you had?

I got two brothers and four sisters. Two brothers Gordon and Don and my sisters are Olive who lives in Catalina and Shirley who lives in St. John’s and Judy lives next door and Nancy. Olive married Bela Rogers and Shirley married Lloyd Button and Judy married Bob Thistle from Stephenville and Nancy is married to Baxter ….

Is there anything else you want to tell me? You really like fishing, don’t you?

Oh, yes. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. First when I went to work in St. John’s, for the first couple of years, that was fine. But I wasn’t contented at all. I don’t know how I come to come back. But fishing started to change, more technology, longliners, and resettlement was gone then. Resettlement had a big effect on those things. For a number of years you didn’t know what to be doing. See, through the 60s there was resettlement here. Greenspond was some lucky. Anyhow we weathered that storm but back then even father and them found it necessary to go away to work, too. In the 70s.There was lots of work in St. John’s building houses, but then people started to return to the fishery. Fishing got better, boats got better, technology got better, the plants got better. There’s exciting things starting to happen. Beothic is experimenting with a new fishery called the whelk fishery. That’s … well, we used to call it snails. Only it’s big ones. The Scottish people are into it. They have developed a lot of the machinery. So Beothic have had their staff over to Scotland. Yes, some of their quality control people just came back from Scotland last week. That looks like a fishery that will get under way in August month. Beothic did experimental work last year and it was relatively successful.

So do you have a license for that? How do you catch them?

Yes, I have a license. You catch them in a pot – a five gallon bucket. You put a netting in the top of it and have holes all bored into it so that the water can pour out of it as it comes up, and there is concrete in the bottom of it to give it weight, and three quarter or half inch netting on top of it. You make it yourself. And there is a rectangular cone in the middle. You drop them over the side, right to the bottom. There’s another type pot made from wrought iron with netting, similar to a crab pot and you can stack them. There’s no end to what’s happening in the fishery. Unlike when my father fished and even up to the time he gave up fishing, seven or eight years ago, codfishing was the mainstay. I mean we got cod traps but it was the never the mainstay for us.

Another exciting fishery that we got a quota for the first time this year is the shrimp fishery. The north east coast never had a quota before. There’s a lot of excitement about that. I was into a seminar there last week, all the industry people was there, people down from the States, marketing people, gear technology people, and the processing … there’s a lot of hype to it.

Where did you go for the seminar? When does the season start?

Gander. There’s a new quota being announced now. The Department of Fisheries haven’t put a harvesting plan in place yet. Hopefully that will come by early fall. You can fish for shrimp all year. Stocks are good but the market is bad now. So it may take a couple or three years before it get up and going, before it comes into its own. I must say that John Efford deserves a lot of credit for those new fisheries. He knows the fishery. Plus, they got a Department of Fisheries again, after they took it away under the Wells administration.

So what do you think of the two unions? It’s too bad, isn’t it?

Yes, it is. It divides people. There’s some bitterness there, because back seven or eight years ago Cashin took us out of that UFCW and some of us had good insurance plans there and all that was lost. Cashin put us in with the CAW. There’s always been a problem with the union representing all fishery workers. The Union goes in and negotiates an increase for their plant workers, the crab workers, and yet the fishermen have been asked to take a cut, those in the crab fishery. You’d think if one sector has to take a cut, there could be no increase to another.

Well, Hettie, that’s a contradiction since you’re a plant worker. He’s complaining about you getting more money. So Bob you’ll have to go out and protest.

Well, it’s like the crab fishery. The union is representing different groups of people, people with different interests, like the small boat people. I’m sure they feel discriminated against. But the union is getting a lot of flak over the money that was allotted under the TAGS program.

I doubt if the union got as much as those private colleges made. They’re set up everywhere.

Yes, and most people would work if they had the opportunity. The people who aren’t working, can’t, and those fishermen who are  working are still contributing to taxes and stuff. Money to support their brothers and sisters that are on the TAGS. You knows if the money wasn’t wasted by the union, and the government. Well, those people over in Catalina, well, there’d be money there for umpteen years yet to help those people through the rough time. I know they don’t need money coming in from a TAGS program, they needs that money to be put to good use so they can get back to work and to be good contributors to society like they always were. I was listening to the Open line the other night and a man was on who said that there was over 60 businesses over there in the Catalina area when the moratorium started and now its down to 12. And you know what kind of effect that got to have on a place, devastation.

Bob you have certainly travelled a lot around Newfoundland. One thing about fishing is you can’t do it on your own. You have to depend on other people.

Yes, I’ve met a lot of people. There’s a lot committees set up too. You can spend a lot of your time with committee work. I’ve made at least 20 trips into St. John’s. I’m on the crab committee and the herring working group committee.

Things have changed. I dare say my grandfather, Ned Carter, wasn’t on any working group committee.

No, I guess not. But there’s a lot of consultation now. Politicians and scientists want the fishermen’s input. But they don’t go far enough with changes that the fishermen recommends. With the crab fishery, we’re always looking for quota changes. Sharing of the crab. We want to have a bigger share of the quota outside the 20 mile area and leave the inside 20 mile to the small boat fishermen.

Can the crab go the way of the cod?

No. Crab is carefully controlled. It can’t go the way of the cod in regards to extinction because you’re only catching the male and the others go back. If you picks one out of the pot and it is too small you can put it back in the water again and it’s okay. The female crab is right small. It’s very rare to see the female crab in the pot. And with the crab pots it’s not like dragging technology that scoops up everything. There’s lots of crab because their predator is down, the cod. Cod eats crab. That’s why the shrimp is up. It was the reverse in Alaska. They had a really big shrimp industry up there. The pollack and tuna industry … well, as they came up the shrimp went down. Also here in Newfoundland and Canadian waters herring is up and cod is down.

And how about seals?

Oh, yes, seals eats cod. The bedlamers we caught, that’s two year old seals, were full of caplin and occasionally there was two or three cod in them.

Where do you take your seals to?

This year Crimson Tide in Dover took our seals. They came down here to the wharf and collected it. They takes it all. We removes the skin. But we sell it all, the pelt and the carcass. This year we got $25 for a whole seal. $25 or $30 depending on the seal. Good price. Now that’s another big fishery.
It’s all about quality now not quantity, quality. It’s interesting times.