Barbara McInnis loves everything about fishing, from the smell of the salt air, to just being out on the ocean. She doesn’t feel like it’s a job, it’s something she totally enjoys.
She said even though she grew up on a farm, she was born to be a fisher. Soon she’ll be starting her 51st season on the water as captain of the fishing vessel.
“I married into a fishing family,” she said. “My husband had just bought his spring fishing gear, and a few years later we decided we’d buy fall gear, and I became captain of that fall gear.”
That was in 1993. Prior to that Ms McInnis had fished a couple of seasons as second crew member, but from that point on she would fish with her husband, Bobby, in the spring season, and he would fish with her in the fall season, always out of the Tignish Run.
In 2018 her father-in-law, Louis McInnis, passed away, and she decided to sell her fall gear and take over his gear. Now, she only fishes in the spring season and is captain of the Northern Bell II, and like other fishers in LFA 24 she’s prepped and eager for the season to begin. The opening of the spring lobster season in LFA 24 has been delayed until May 15 due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Like other fishers in the LFA, Ms McInnis would have preferred it if the season had started earlier.
“I’m not happy with it, especially when Nova Scotia was able to start fishing,” she said. “It seems like just New Brunswick and PEI had to wait until May 15. We had a vote, but I guess the minister (Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard) had the final say.
It would have been nice to go out on May 6. It seems like every year people look for their lobster on Mother’s Day.”
Ms McInnis said there have been delays over the years because of weather and ice, but nothing like this. She said everyone was caught off guard.
There have a been a few changes in the fishing industry since she began, with the difference in boats being one of the things that really stand out. When she began, there were no heaters or anything in the boats to help fishers keep warm while out on the ocean. Now, along with modern electronics, boats are larger as well.
“At the time, we thought it was great, but then something new comes, you wonder how you ever did without it,” she said. “It makes things a lot easier, for sure.”
Ms McInnis knows that this job isn’t for everyone, but if a person can stand the rough waters, it’s a good one to have.
“I think it’s a great job,” she concluded. “But, I understand too that it’s not for everybody because not everybody has sea legs, and not everybody likes to be out on the ocean, and out 10-12 hours a day, every day, for two months of the year. To me? I think it’s the greatest thing going.”