22nd December 2001
It was rough during the night and I woke up regularly. At 7, or just after, I got up and went on the bridge to take a look at the lightening that had been flickering through my porthole. Ship’s time is about 2 hours behind what the time should be at this longitude and so it doesn’t get light until around 9-10am. Therefore at 7 it was pitch dark and the lightening was a fantastic sight, lighting up the rain clouds and fog, and thunder ripping up the air.
I got chatting to the Captain this morning and it turns out that I was right about the fish on the echosounder being cod. He’s completely open about his intention to target cod just as soon as he gets a chance, and he thinks that the opportunity will present itself over Christmas. He’s banking on the Canadian fishery patrol vessel Leonard J Cowley being in port for the holidays, which will provide him with a window of opportunity to catch lots of cod while nobody is looking. What’s more there is another Portuguese ship which is heading into St Johns, and when they get there they will send word to confirm if the LJ Cowley is safely tucked up in port, out of harm’s way. While the cat’s away…
I’m not going to get worked up about it. My job is to record what I see and I’ll do that, but I can’t do anything more. It seems to me that having an observer onboard is little deterrent to illegal fishing, and the captains and fishing companies know full well that in the unlikely event that they are prosecuted, the profits will be worth more than any fines. It’s a risk worth taking and sod the fish stocks.
It looks certain that I won’t receive my parcels until after Christmas…the ship carrying them has gone north. I’m a bit pissed off with the Captain about it as he has had about a month to meet up with the other ship to do the transhipment, but he left it until the last minute and now it’s too late. There are personal packages on the ship not only for myself but also for the the crew, as well as fresh provisions and the Christmas food and drink. It seems that because he doesn’t like Christmas he is doing his best to make sure none of us do.
On a brighter note I have got up to date with my data and have found a new easier way to calculate the cumulative catches for each division and have set up a spread sheet for each regulated species so it will save me hours of calculations when I come to write my reports. If I do another trip it will be much easier from the offset.