An occupation to be recommended
Oddbjørn Bøe has been a fisherman for over forty years. He lives in Møre og Romsdal, on the west coast of Norway, where the traditional salted cod made from the fishermen’s catch is nowadays a Slow Food Presidium.Fishing and I were meant to be. I was born into a family of fishermen; fishing for a living has been a long tradition in my family. The ocean has been my place of work my entire life – since I was 15 years old that is, which now means for 47 years altogether. I finished my training as a mate when I was 20, and then became an official professional fisherman. I still very much enjoy being out at sea.
I work as mate a on a 210 feet long fishing boat called MS Leinebjørn. It’s one of the two boats I work on. With the Leinebjørn, we go to the Barents Sea, The North Sea, Iceland, Greenland (fishing for capelin and herring), and the Atlantic Ocean, off Ireland’s west coast (fishing for blue whiting).
We use purse seine net and trawl in our fishing. The purse seine net is used for pelagic fishing, while the trawl is used for the deepwater fish. I also own a smaller vessel, 38 feet long, called MB Karoline. When I have time off from the larger boat, I spend a lot of time going out with Karoline.
On board the Leinebjørn, we do a 6 hours on / 6 hours off shift. Before we get to the fishing grounds, the shifts are regular. But once out on the fishing grounds, sometimes the shifts will be a lot longer, depending on the nature of the task we are carrying out. Sometimes we will work double shifts, sometimes even triple if something goes wrong. There is no such thing as a set daily routine; it all depends on the fishery. So you never get bored in your work, you’re always awake.
We go out on the grounds, try to catch the amount of fish on our quota and store it properly on board, we repair the nets if needed, and afterwards we still need to go back ashore to deliver. We sell our catch mostly to fish traders, who then sell directly to the people who will eat the fish.
Onboard the Leinebjørn, I am part of a ten-member crew. Aboard the Karoline however, I am mostly on my own. But whatever boat I am on, I enjoy my work and I try to do it in the best of ways – I believe that in doing something, no matter what it is, one should always strive to complete the task in as good a way as possible.
I like my work a lot, and I have to say I am quite passionate about it. If you love the sea and feel strongly about fishing, especially sustainable fishing, it is very satisfactory work. I don’t feel I have to make any major sacrifices. As a fisherman you can still have a family life and other hobbies, and hard work pays off.
I think my occupation could definitely be recommended to others, like the younger generation. It is a good way of living – rewarding in many ways, it’s an exciting and challenging lifestyle.
Herøy, Møre og Romsdal, Norway