|And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee,
saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother,
casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
St Matthew 4:18.
|For They Were Fishers|
|The history of the fishing industry
in South Australia.
Most of the fishing folk in South Australia know one another, even when one lives, for example, on Kangaroo Island and the other in Port Lincoln. They are linked through the friendship of all who ‘go down to the sea in ships’, through their membership of the South Australian Fishing Industry Council (which supports their efforts to participate in the management of the fishery in which they are involved), through the buying and selling of boats (for which some have great affection), and through family connections.
Although this story is mainly about the men aboard the boats, the other half of many partnerships, the wives, often take responsibility for the onshore business side of the enterprise. Particularly in the past, some participated in the catching of rock lobsters and scale fish as well as the cleaning, packing and sending to market. For years they picked up the catches from the beaches or boat ramps in outlying areas. Martha Biddell, driving the four-horse wagon loaded with oysters, is still remembered by the older generation around Port Lincoln way. In more recent years, wives regularly took four-wheel drive vehicles to pick up catches at places where the going was too rough for the buyers’ big trucks. And today a few young women are beginning to choose professional fishing as a career.
Fishing is not just a story of how fish were and are caught and whether a fisher was involved during the bonanza years. It is also the story of Chook, Pluto, The Screamer, Truthful, etc., men who have nicknames because of the affection in which they are held by their friends and families. And it is the story of an earlier generation of seamen/fishermen, like Billy Swain, who could not write but could navigate by instinct and the stars. It also acknowledges the republic-style settlement on Kangaroo Island (led by Governor Wally and including Fireball Bates) that operated before the colony of South Australia was proclaimed.
It is the story of enterprises great and small made by enterprising people, and sometimes it is a story of struggle, when fishing was taken up a way of obtaining food to eat and of making some money to support the family.
Throughout its history the Department of Fisheries has been variously amalgamated with Game, Fauna Conservation and Agriculture. Through these vicissitudes it continued to be the Fisheries Department to the fishermen, and is such throughout these pages.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 November 2010 23:49