Fishing can be more than a side hustle, says head of fishers group
BOWEN...fishing is a sustainable skill and we feed people, so it's always going to be needed.

MONTEGO BAY, St James — Chairman of the Montego Bay Fishermen's Cooperative Society Richard Bowen wants to see more youngsters and women take up fishing as a career.

"The older guys are dying off and we need them to come and take it up," Bowen told the Jamaica Observer recently.

He conceded that the profession may appear unattractive because of the associated risks and relatively low return on investment.

"We have a lot of youths here; they fish and they go out but they don't see it as a business. They see it as a hustle, a way to survive, instead of looking at it in a long-term business sense like how the bigger [companies such as] Rainforest and them would do it," added Bowen even as he admitted that the spiralling price of gas and the net used to make fish pots make it a costly career.

"It's expensive, especially now with the cost of living. The nets were like $13,000 a year ago for a roll; now it's $20,000 and more," he explained.

Bowen argued however that fishing, if done properly, can provide a livelihood.

"Fishing is a sustainable skill and we feed people, so it's always going to be [needed]. A lot of people look down on it but if you do it in the right way [it can provide an income]. A lot of these guys send their children to college by fishing," he remarked.

Bowen urged anyone interested in the profession to do as he did and get hands-on training.

"There are a lot of fisherfolk who need hands sometimes; the older guys need somebody to go to sea. So, they can gather experience from fellow fisherfolk — that's how the knowledge is mainly shared here, other than going to do a course in captaincy. Regular fishermen, they go out together. That's how I learnt," he said.

Fisherman Floyd Thomas holding a big catch at the Alligator Pond fishing village in Manchester.

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