Fisherman born, fisherman bred
James has been fishing all his life. Brought up in a fisherman’s family, with his father spending most of his working life at sea, he joined him straight after leaving school and never looked back.
‘My father first took me to the sea when I was about six and I got hooked. It was the only job I ever wanted to do. But it’s something you need to be born and bred into and requires a bit of grit and determination.’
James’s working week varies hugely dependant on the weather, the catch, or if something goes wrong with the boat. ‘When you have a good trip and you and your crew come home with a good wage, everybody is happy and it’s very rewarding. But then maybe the next week or month you get poor weather or things are going wrong on the boat. It can be soul-destroying.’
It can be dangerous too. A few years ago, James had an incident when he got caught up in one of the nets and dragged over the side. He was very lucky not to lose any limbs or to have any lasting damage, but it was scary. ‘I saw people losing limbs, some people have even lost their lives, but there are still men willing to do the job and take that risk.’
Having a local Fishermen’s Centre makes a huge difference to the fishermen. ‘We are very lucky to have the Fishermen’s Mission Centre down here in Troon. The Centre is open 24/7 and you can come in after a rough day and have a shower, or watch a bit of telly in peace and quiet without an engine running, without the gulls squawking. It’s great to know that when something happens the Mission superintendents are always there to help, whether with some visa paperwork for foreign crew members, or if there’s been a fatality or injury aboard one of the boats.’
The new modern mini Centre in Troon was developed with the assistance of Seafarers UK and Merchant Navy Welfare Board funding and provides key resources to local fishermen and migrant workers based on fishing boats utilising the harbour. The service provision also includes a wide range of welfare support including emergency support and grants, transportation to hospital visits, relief from isolation and loneliness, debt management, as well as promotion of the importance of sea safety and the use of Personal Flotation Devices when fishing to reduce injuries and save lives.
‘Without the generous funding we receive from Seafarers UK, some of the vital services that we provide would of necessity be curtailed, adversely affecting the lives of fishermen and their families.’
Watch the full interview with James below and please donate today to help us support more fishermen.