As Promised, Feedback From My Commercial Fishing Peeps.

A couple of weeks ago, I published a post that included four of the more recent and interesting search queries that landed people at this blog. I thought about addressing each of the queries myself, but to my surprise, it was easier said than done. I quickly discovered that my thoughts on some of the topics were scattered and even unkind.

Therefore, I decided it would be a better idea (and more fun!) to open up the dialogue and invite you, the readers, to reply instead. I wrote that I might publish your replies in the form of a blog post or in the comments, and that you could remain anonymous.

To refresh your memory, here are the four search queries for which I solicited replies:

1. What are some neat things about commercial fishing?

2. What can we do about commercial fishing?

3. Why do women leave their husbands when they are commercial fishermen?

4. What do commercial fishermen do when they are away from their wives?

At long last, I’ve selected responses from three very different readers: A commercial fisherman, an experienced fishing wife, and a new fishing wife.

I gave the option for readers to stay anonymous (not everyone enjoys a public platform), and so I am honoring the wish of the commercial fisherman to remain so. And in case you’re wondering; no, the anonymous fisherman is not my husband, G! It is, however, a man within the same age-range and a university graduate who comes from a fishing family.

The “experienced fishing wife” is Lori French, from The Faces of California Fishing. The “new fishing wife” is the author of the blog, The Fisherman’s Wife (aka “The Fish Wifey”). The Fish Wifey has an interesting take on some aspects of commercial fishing culture; you may use the link she’s provided at the end of this post to read more. Oh—and when The Fish Wifey references her husband by the initial, “-G-“, it is not the same G as my G!

Got all that? :)

I hope you enjoy the different perspectives of these replies. I wholeheartedly agree with some of what was written, and strongly disagree with some of what was written. Give all of the responses a read and see what you think.

Here we go:

What are some neat things about commercial fishing?

The Commercial Fisherman:

Freedom to make choices of how you fish, where you fish, who you fish with, what kind of fish you fish for. Every day is different with new challenges and highs and lows. Each set, tow, pot, or shackle writes its own story and has the ability to save the day or completely destroy it. Being on the water is pretty cool but has drawbacks as well. At the end of it all, it is a job with no grey area you either love or enjoy doing, or you don’t. It is not a job that you keep unless you are passionate and willing to make sacrifices to keep doing it.

Lori:

Our freedom to do things our way…..most of the time.

The Fish Wifey:

I asked my husband his opinion for this one:

  • Witnessing some of the most beautiful sights on the planet. Unbelievable sunrises and breathtaking sunsets.
  • Having fun with your best friends.
  • Experiencing the power of mother nature.
  • The “fisherman’s high” when it all goes perfect.
  • BIG MONEY and fast cash.
  • Pushing your body to its limits and knowing just how powerful you truly are.
  • You never stop learning, everyday is different.
  • Getting to eat REAL seafood! Can’t get any better than straight off the boat.

What can we do about commercial fishing?

The Commercial Fisherman:

Don’t get me started…. There is nothing we can do about commercial fishing, nor should anything be done. Commercial fishing provides access to a food source which benefits millions of people all over the world. Fishing is regulated, scrutinized, and then regulated some more.

Scientific uncertainty in the stock assessments is addressed by taking less fish and not more. Education about commercial fishing is essential because, in addition to the general public, today’s regulatory bodies and many involved in the regulatory process don’t have intimate knowledge of the fisheries they regulate.

The environmental movement is no longer a movement, it is an industry. They need to make money and keep their jobs the same as anyone and they do it by making statements, press releases, and filing lawsuits to generate publicity which scares the public, who have no intimate knowledge of fisheries, into writing donation checks to solve a problem which does not exist in an attempt to save something that does not need saving.

Again, the public does not know the real story and don’t realize they are being preyed upon by these groups. They should be furious and hopefully will clue in and put their money toward a nice plate of seafood and a glass of wine at their local restaurant and relax a little bit.

Lori:

I’m just going to assume that the question is “What can we do to help commercial fishing?”
Because if the question asker (my own word) means it in a negative way, well, then there is no PG reply.

Now to answer “What can we do to help commercial fishing?” We can help by promoting our husband’s products and our lifestyle by educating the general public. I see a growing trend of Facebook and the internet of blogs, stories, newspaper columns and editorials by women taking the bull by the horns and doing such things. It’s very gratifying and I think we are a force to be reckoned with. Start in the schools, talk at the grocery store, spread the word that USA Wild Caught is the BEST.

The Fish Wifey:

Not totally sure how to interpret this question but I’m gonna say… continue to explore new technologies/equipment which insure the safety of our fisherman. As far as the environmental standpoint, hopefully the future will provide fisherman with eco-friendly options and advancements for the industry.

Why do women leave their husbands when they are commercial fishermen?

The Commercial Fisherman:

Divorce happens to a huge percentage of people in our country. I don’t think the rate is much higher for fishing families. I know people in the industry who have been married forever and raised families either with some or all of them on the boat, as well as just the fathers leaving to go fishing for months at a time. “You’re so miserable without me it’s almost like I’m here.”

Fishing is not “vanilla” and the business is changing all the time with many ups and downs. Everyone sees you buy the new pick-up truck but they don’t stay around to watch you drive it for the next 15 years until you can afford another one.

Women likely leave their husbands because to be a fisherman you have to love what you do and it would appear on the surface that the fisherman loves his job more than his wife, but there is much more to it than that….

Lori:

I don’t know. We’ve been happily married for almost 28 years. One of the nicest things my fisherman ever said was, “I know if something happens to me, you are strong enough to make it.” When we were in college, it was one of the first things that attracted me to him (besides his Foothill t shirt, the one where the Foothill was well placed) was the fact that he was hard-working and putting himself through school.

I flat-out tell our boys all the time if they are half as honest and hardworking as their dad, I will be happy.

The Fish Wifey:

Why does any woman leave her husband? There is always a “good” or “valid” reason, I suppose. But personally I can’t really answer this question.

I can tell you why I stay… because I vowed to stay…forever. That’s it! NO reasons required. When I ask -G- “Why do you love me?” His reply every single time is “Because I said so.”

Sure, there are reasons why we love each other, but it’s our promise and not our “reasons” which keep our marriage alive.

What do commercial fishermen do when they are away from their wives?

The Commercial Fisherman:

All fishermen think about when they are gone is their families and how to get back to them as quickly and as safely as possible. We love to catch fish but it is a means to an end, supporting our families, enjoying the fruits of our labors and sacrifices together.

Lori:

I’ve never had any worries about other women.

One time my husband came home so flustered. I asked him what was wrong and he said, “The woman at the gas station was flirting with me, and I had Lorrin with me.” (Lorrin is our oldest son, he was about 2 -3 at the time.)

“Why would she do that? I can’t go back there.” He was dead serious. I had to point out to him that he is/was rather nice looking and doesn’t wear a wedding ring. He never did go back to that gas station, which was pretty hard in our small town.

I know when he’s gone he takes his metal detector with him for those times when they are in. And I know for a fact that the boat gets more ESPN than we do at home so he is a happy camper. Oh and the fact that when they are gone THEY WORK!

The Fish Wifey:

Here is my personal experience in regards to this question. My commercial fishing husband and I were separated for three years. In one of my recent blog posts, “You’re not the man I married,” I share how he compensated for lack of intimacy in our marriage and the effects it had on our relationship once reunited. Below is a segment from that post:

“I’m married to a man who thinks he is still a bachelor. I suppose I can’t blame him…we did live on separate coasts the last three years. The only way he’s been able to deal with loneliness is by frequenting strip clubs and browsing internet porn. These bachelor tendencies are very much ingrained into the fisherman culture and plus he is a MAN after all. Now that marital sex is back on the table, somewhere along the line -G- has come to the conclusion that I’m a stripper or porn star myself. SORRY TO DISAPPOINT HUBBY! This is not the case. Nowhere in my repertoire of clothing will you find 6′ plastic heals and cheap perfume. When it comes to the bedroom I’m fairly traditional as I have always been. No I’m not a prude but I do have my limits. I suppose I’m flattered and even glad he is very much attracted to me. But let me remind you, I DO NOT want a stripper pole in our bedroom…just saying. Furry handcuffs, sure…whips and chains… I think I’ll pass.”

http://thefishermanswife.me/2012/04/26/you-are-not-the-man-i-married/

Jen:

Here are my two cents, based on my experience, about what fishermen do when they are away from their wives:

They are fixing and repairing complicated engines on vessels worth anywhere from $40,000 to $4 million and hooking up new and updated satellite services so they can communicate with their loved ones while they’re at sea. They are staying busy keeping detailed log books and staying current on the ever-changing and convoluted fishery rules, changes, and requirements. In town, they’re shopping for souvenirs from various ports to send to their children and wondering how their families are doing at home.

They’re feeling bad for missing so much family life and wondering (worrying) how the fishing season will shape up and end up. If it’s been a great season, they might be thinking about where to take their family on vacation. If it’s a bad season, they might be wondering how they will pay for the next year of soccer lessons for the kids.

They are calling around from sea to different markets on land to find out where the best price for their catch will be and determining where to deliver. They’re working smart and hard so they come home safely and alive to their families. They’re reading books in the galley, watching movies in the wheelhouse, sleeping in their bunks, having a barbecue on the back deck, taking a walk in town, or having a well-deserved drink and dinner with the rest of the crew.

I may address the question of why women leave their commercial fishing husbands at a later date…the question is relevant and tempting, yet difficult to answer.

Comments

  1. This was such an interesting post, Jen. Call me crazy, but I had no idea ‘so many women leave their fishermen husbands’. I mean, I get it, not many relationships can handle months at a time apart. But, I guess my answer has always been this, it’s just simply not the lifestyle for everyone. It takes a unique type of woman to live this life. You have to be independent enough to handle the time alone, but flexible enough to adjust to the times when the men come home. Not always easy, but I’m sure there are other issues that 9-5 type marriages have that we don’t. As far as what the men do while away from their wives…I can’t figure out if this question is offensive or realistic. I guess I can defer to my above statement. It takes a unique woman to live this life. You must have a high level of self-esteem and make the choice to trust your husband. Then again, shouldn’t every wife trust her husband? And shouldn’t we all strive for high self-esteem? Perhaps we have achieved something in our marriages that others are still arguing about nightly, simply because they have the access to their husbands to do so.

    • Wow, fantastic comment. Thank you for writing! I do agree with what you’ve said here. It absolutely takes a unique woman to live this life…independent, flexible, okay with being alone. In addition, interesting take on the issues that come with a 9-5 marriage that we don’t have because we don’t have access to our husbands. Perfectly thought out and written. This is why I enjoy feedback from others; the comments and thoughts (whether I agree with them or not) are always fodder for thought and dialogue.

      As for wives leaving their commercial fishing husbands…in my experience, it tends to happen at two points in a marriage; immediately after becoming married, or way later on near retirement age. The middle part of the marriage seems to remain intact for the most part. I think that some new wives just don’t realize what they are getting into and don’t like being alone so much, or there are “trust” issues, or they don’t understand the culture or lifestyle enough to jump in and make it work. And then, later, I think some wives have just “had it” and choose to move on after the children are raised and on their way.

      On the other hand, though, I know some fishing husbands who have chosen to leave their wives, mostly because of those trust issues. They have returned home hurt and surprised to find their wife has found comfort in the arms of another while they’ve been away, or even had her “boyfriend” temporarily moved into the very house he’s been away working to pay for.

      The issue is so convoluted on both sides!

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