North Sea Fisherman: I Risk My Life Everyday Just So You Can Eat

North Sea Boat

Photo: YouTube

Fish stocks in Europe’s North Sea have dropped precipitously in recent decades, thanks to bigger ships, better nets and new technology.  We’ve been warned that if current trends continue, there will be nothing left to fish in the sea in 40 years.  

But as our appetites continue grow, the task of feeding this demand falls on some of earth’s bravest souls.  

“Fishing isn’t for everyone; it’s a hard, dangerous job that leaves you with little social life,” a fisherman in the North Sea says on Reddit’s popular “Ask Me Anything” thread.   

The fisher answered other questions about the hazards of his job and what it’s like working on a ship. 

We pulled out some of the best questions and answers, edited for clarity.

Q: What makes fishing one of the most dangerous jobs?

Q: What was your scariest experience at sea?

Q: What is an average day at work like?

A: An average day of work in the summer is: get up really early just before sunrise, eat, cast out the nets, eat/sleep when the nets are being dragged, haul in the nets, gut the fish/sort them, cast them out again, eat/sleep and repeat about seven more times a day.

Summer is hell, no sleep what so ever.

Questions and answers are from Reddit.

Q: How do you stay awake for the long hours?

A: As my grandfather says, it's the short naps that make all the difference. Short naps as often as possible, fatigue is how injury's happen.

Questions and answers are from Reddit.

Q: Have you ever had a man die at sea?

A: I haven't lost anyone personally, but my grandpa has, but I won't go into too much detail...

Questions and answers are from Reddit.

Q; What is the most common fish you catch?

A: Depends on time of year, and what fish you're looking for. We usually go for haddock and whiting, although there is a mixture, like cod and monkfish (this costs A Lot of money per box...).

We do catch some cod in our nets, but we can't land most of it due to quota restrictions, and most of the time we have to just throw it back.

Questions and answers are from Reddit.

Q: Who do you sell your catch to and where does it eventually end up?

A: We sell our haddock privately to a big company, and somehow that ends up in the supermarkets I believe. But some of our other stuff goes to the the market and goes all through Europe.

Questions and answers are from Reddit.

Q: How do you feel about fishing restrictions?

A: There are a lot of the restrictions, like when and where we can fish and the amount of fish we can catch (quota). It's killing the industry.

Where I'm from, there used to be thousands of boats. Now there is probably less than 100.

The government Is killing the fishing industry.

Questions and answers are from Reddit.

Q: How big was the biggest fish you ever caught? Also, any interesting things ever get caught in the nets?

A: Personally, probably a toilet seat, but I've heard of bombs and stuff being hauled in. We occasionally catch sharks that are bigger than 5 feet.

Questions and answers are from Reddit.

Q: Are any of your practices cruel to any fish?

A: Well first we take them out of the water so they can't breath, then just let them sit there and be crushed by thousands of their friends, then we stick a knife in them and haul out the guts…some of the process is slightly cruel, but hey what can you do.

Questions and answers are from Reddit.

Q: How many weeks to you take off per year?

A: It all depends on the weather; some January's we don't leave the harbor, and we might be broken down, and we also take two weeks off to get the boat painted.

We always take two weeks off at Christmas/New Years and the rest varies really.

Questions and answers are from Reddit.

Q: Why did you become a fisherman?

A: Because of where I'm from, it's coastal and my father is a fisherman, my uncle is a fisherman and my grandfather is a fisherman (he is still going at 67, he started when he was 15 cooking for 10 men... ).

Oh and the money is decent for no qualifications; it's probably at the higher end of £45k ($57k) a year but that all depends on the boat.

Questions and answers are from Reddit.

Q: What do you do in your free time while working?

A: Well the usual trip for our boat is Sunday night to Friday morning/night or even Saturday morning -- it all depends on the weather, and how much fish we catch.

While working, besides sleeping, which i try to do, I read, watch TV ( we have a sky box) and go on my phone if there's a signal. (I'm at home just now) and cook a lot of the time as I'm the newest on the boat.

Questions and answers are from Reddit.

You won't hear fishermen discussing this danger of commercial fishing...

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