As a mom, Melissa Grandy knows the fishery works for her family. Will the tradition continue?
Melissa Grandy runs her own fishing enterprise with her husband Darren – and often their two kids – at her side. The fishery, she says, has been good to them as a family. “It’s the only industry where you can haul your guts out working for two months of the year and then be a full-time mother for the rest of the year,” she begins with gratitude.
Heading Out to Sea
Grandy, who has two young children; Logan, 13, and Chloe, nine, says the sacrifices she makes heading out to sea at four a.m (warming her hands on the hauler’s motor when the cold gets too much to stand) when the goin’s good are well worth it.
“Besides loving the work, the biggest benefit is being home with your kids when you’re done. You’re still out (in the shed) at your gear, but you can raise your children. How lucky are we?”
But it’s not all sunshine and roses, she admits. “Days others are sat in an office in comfort, we are out in hail, sleet and snow and wind and our arses are freezing and we are out there punching through the waves through the bay trying to get through the morning and surviving the weather.”
Why does she do it? It’s in her blood, she says.
“My dad fished his whole life. I bought his enterprise. Dad misses it with every ounce of his being; he wants to be in the boat now but he can’t because of his back. It kills me to see that. No matter how bad it gets I says; I’ll fish it as long I can, fish it till I can’t fish no more, for dad.”
Learning the Ropes
When asked why she wanted The Herald to feature the women who fish from Garnish, her answer was quick.
“There’s people who promote themselves as a harvesters yet they haven’t stepped foot in boat. Us women, we support each other. I planned on being an LPN, and I ended up cutting up lump, slicing open fish trying to take out all the eggs. I learned the ropes.”
But being able to promote what they do for a living is about so much more, she says.
“Women are not looked at the same, even today. Too many women were looked at as not really in the fishery. People say it to me all the time; oh, you are actually in the boat? No by! I’m home doing friggin’ arts and crafts. It used to be women were there to get her stamps or working in the plant. My husband has a trade, yet he’s been away eight weeks in the last three years. The fishery keeps our family alive. It’s our only source of income. We work hard, and it’s been good to us,” she says.
Grandy says being involved in the fishery is also about keeping it around for the next generation.
“We can fish every day of the year, but if every license went out and fished because they could, there wouldn’t be a damn fish left in the ocean. As long as we continue to protect it like we are doing now; keeping extra pots off the water, returning v-notches and the spawnies (to the water), we’re always going to have a little fishery here. When you see anyone doing otherwise, we become a little hostile. We don’t want to lose this industry. We got one of the best (lobster fisheries) on the island and it’s not worth risking.”
Still, Grandy says sometimes staying in the fishery is hard.
“Days you’re glad you are in it and other days you can’t stand it because you see so many losing everything they got because they are not able to fish. Or worse. My uncle drowned, Uncle Wallace Grandy, and a lot of days there’s too much wind. It’s unnerving. We don’t have the biggest boats out there.”
The lobsters will still be in the pots tomorrow, she says, and if she doesn’t feel good, they don’t go out.
That doesn’t happen often. “We don’t miss much. We go out in almost anything. When it’s shitty we just look at each other; move your fingers! Keep ‘em moving! Only went twice to warm them on the hauler motor on the exhaust this year. My hood never comes down. If my hood comes down, it’s splitting rocks.”
Besides the weather, the only other downside is the uncertainty.
“It’s the only industry out there where you don’t know what you’re getting paid until a week later,” she says with a what-can-you-do laugh.
Still, the good news is she’s always earned a living. And she hopes one of her two kids will eventually carry the torch.
“I hope one of them takes it over. I think my daughter will, because she shows more interest. She’s like her mother. Ready to take on anything.”