by Kaygianna Charlery ( Operations Manager of the Goodwill Fishermen’s Cooperative to mark Fishermen’s Feast on June 29, 2020)
Agnes Prescott better known to many of us as Ms. I.S sat down with me and recalled her fishing expeditions with her husband many moons ago in a wooden canoe, pulling fish pots to the surface of the water to haul in the catch or hauling lines when she felt the fish ‘bite’.
She recalled her days as a dock worker and other “jobs” that she held but she smiled when she said “amongst them all, I truly loved the sea”.
“I have been to St Vincent on the boat where we travelled sometimes to purchase supplies. I remember going there when there was a sugar shortage in St Lucia. I brought back sugar and I gave everybody”, she said.
When asked about the sale of fish at the time, she said that fish was sold for $0.20, $0.30 and $0.65.
She recalled that “JQ and Ma King bought the fish especially when there was a lot and when they could not purchase at the maximum price, they bought it for $0.20 sometimes just to help us out.”
Prescott then proceeded to tell me about being brought to court because she sold fish for $0.70 when she should have instead sold it for $0.60.
She recalled that it was difficult work. Her husband sometimes made more than one trip.
“So how did the court rule?” I was interested in knowing.
“The case was dropped. Ms. Beauty went to sea one day and threw up along the way. She worked with the Fisheries. She then said this is difficult. They understood.”
I asked what the difficulties were and she simply said “rough seas”.
And the good?
“I was able to take care of my family, send the children to school and eat decently. Life at the Co-operative was also good. I remember when Fishermen’s feast was celebrated properly. Everybody came together, contributed and did what was required. By May we had dances and on Fishermen’s Feast day we cooked, went to church, blessed the boats and we ate together and had fun. We always had uniforms- a shirt and bottoms, even the fishers’ wives. We ensured that all the visitors who would come from the countryside to celebrate with us always ate first. We visited the sick members and if there was a death, we would buy Bay Rum, a little sugar, something and go to the house. But now this is no more. Everybody is on their own now and sit around waiting for the Co-operative to do everything and they criticize.”
Asked whether she would advise any young persons to get into the fishing industry now, Prescott responded in the negative.
“It is hard work. The fuel is expensive and there is not as much money any more. You cannot trust just anybody to send out with your boat because they have all kinds of tricks. It is no longer worth it. You have to be strong.,” the veteran fisher asserted.
Mr John Robert also known as “Cock” is an avid fisherman of Savannes Bay Vieux Fort.
He started fishing at an early age of fifteen (15) years.
At the time when he started fishing he ventured out on a wooden fishing vessel and practiced deep sea fishing and fish pots. Here still enjoys building fishpots to this day.
He was, in his younger years, involved in other activities such as farming but absolutely loved the sea.
Mr Robert has been a member of the Goodwill Fishermen’s Cooperative for over 20 years.
Mr Robert has passed on the love of the sea to his son who now operates the fishing vessel.