A Seiner’s Experience Collaborating with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Commercial Fishermen, and First Nations
John G. Brajcich
My family has a long tradition of seine fishing commencing with seining for sardella off the Dalmation Coast of Croatia in the 1800s. In 1924, my father emigrated to Canada and began seining for salmon and herring in British Columbia. In order to preserve this livelihood, he had to adapt to this new environment and respond to changes in the industry. This involved experimentation and taking risks. For example, in the 1940s, he built a new seiner, the Freeland, using a converted caterpillar tractor diesel engine with a new hydraulic system to power the winches. These mechanical additions were the first of their kind in the industry. In the 1950s, my family was the first family in Canada to use another new device, the Puratic Power Block. It, too, was hydraulically driven, and many fishermen believed it would not work; however, today it has become standard gear on all seine boats. My father continued to make modifications experimenting with new nylon netting and lines among other things. My brother and I followed in this tradition and, in the 1960s, built a new steel seiner, the Provider, which had a completely enclosed wheelhouse. At the time, many fishermen thought this was a foolish idea; however, it was so successful that most seiners built after the Provider had enclosed wheel houses and many existing boats were modified to include them. In the 1970s and 1980s, my brother and I built two more steel seiners, the Dual Venture and the Franciscan no. 1. These boats were outfitted with state-of-the-art electronics, and the fish hold was divided into four insulated compartments with a slush ice system for fish storage. These examples show a long family tradition of innovation in fishing. Perhaps all fishermen have to be innovative in order to survive, but current times require an innovation that is different from past innovations. Rather than increasing the efficiency in finding, catching and storing the fish, we now have to be innovative in how we ensure the sustainability of the resource, and this cannot be done alone. It requires working in collaboration with industry, managers of the resource, and scientists.