20th January 2002
We are sailing back up to the north to fish on the Flemish Caps as we have now filled and closed the fourth hold and are about to start the fifth and final hold. There is no chance of filling it in the time left but the captain has done better than he expected considering the problems and lost time. We have about 10 days of fishing left and I think we will spend the rest of the trip in the North as it is 24 hours steaming (250 nautical miles) to get from one end to the other.
I woke up this morning to find the portholes frozen solid on the inside and the decks dusted white with snow and ice…it is very chilly up here! It’s strange how you become accustomed to the cold though as now I’m sitting in my cabin which must be 1 or 2 degrees (portholes still frozen solid) and am only slightly chilly. I’m either getting used to the cold or have lapsed into hypothermia and am delirious. The weather though cold, is nice and the sea is calm and the sky bright, it makes you feel good to see clear skies and get out of the renowned and common Newfoundland fog.
The Santa Christina and Isabel are also on their way to the North and should arrive late tonight, if the weather stays fair we’ll be servicing with them tomorrow. The captain is getting desperate to make the service now as the crew are putting on the pressure because they have been without wine for 2 weeks. This sounds petty but they have rioted for less, you’d be amazed how perspectives and priorities change out here.
I’ve been lucky in that the officers and crew on this ship have been friendly towards me (this is often not the case on other ships) and I get on well with most of them. It makes this part of the trip very difficult for me though because I have to write my reports and prepare the final figures… a bad report from me means they will get a port inspection. The trouble is that the holds are illegal with lots of plaice and cod, it goes against my nature to play this authoritative role and transmit a bad report however it goes against my morals no to. That sounds very mixed up but in essence what I mean is that I wish it wasn’t me to have to do this.
I will of course transmit my figures but won’t feel good about doing it. This brings me to the biggest problem…how to let the office know without the ship finding out. There is still a chance that we’ll stop in the Azores on the way back, if so I’ll phone the office from land then, but if we go straight back to Aveiro then I won’t be able to pass on the figures until we arrive.
I keep reasoning with myself to make myself feel better and here is what I’ve come up with:
- They knew they were over-fishing a regulated species.
- They carried on fishing for weeks on end targeting those species.
- I believe it is wrong to over exploit protected fish stocks.
- It is my job.
- If I don’t do this then next time they’ll catch more (they admitted that to me!).
- The chances are high that the office will decide not to take the matter further but at least I’ll know I’ve done my bit.
So that’s what I keep telling myself.