A Fisherman For All Seasons

September 16, 2014


Jack Greenham
Welcome to our series of articles wherein we interview some fascinating people in the fish harvesting industry and get to find out more about them.
 
The Canadian Council of Professional Fish Harvesters works with some really interesting people in the fish harvesting industry.  We work with them on some of our projects, have them involved in our committees and consult with them on them on industry issues. These people are great sources of industry information and we are lucky to have them work along with us.
 
The first person in the spotlight is Jack Greenham. Jack is from Comfort Cove – Newstead, Newfoundland.  Jack fishes from ports along the East and North-East coast of Newfoundland as well as the coast of Labrador. We’ve had the opportunity to get to know him through our Fishing Vessel Stability Simulator (FVSS) project as well as through Canadian Marine Advisory Committee meetings (CMAC). 
 
We asked Jack about when and how he started fishing. Like many in the industry he started at a young age. “I basically grew up fishing. Started lobster fishing with my brother Bill when I was about 12 or 13. We would go out (on the water) in the morning at 0400 and he would bring me in (to shore) at 0800 for school, and then out (on the water) again in the evenings with him to get bait for the next day. I finished high school in 1980 and I’ve been fishing full time ever since.” He added that their present vessel is their fifth large boat since he completed high school.  Its name is the Newfoundland Spirit. He also has an inshore boat which he calls the Seabreeze. 
 
Both he and his brother’s dedication to fishing certainly cannot be questioned as he assures us that neither him nor his brother have missed a trip during the 34 years they have been fishing together. “When our vessel is at sea, we are there!” 
 
We asked Jack what he did when he wasn’t fishing.  His response, “I fish!” When he isn’t aboard the Newfoundland Spirit, he hops aboard the Seabreeze and fishes crab as well as cod.  As if that much fishing didn’t give us the impression that he’s passionate about fishing, Jack added that he’s the Chairman of the local Harbour Authority and Director of the NLFHSA (Newfoundland and Labrador Fish Harvesting Safety Association).  He also keeps a close connection to the Fish Food and Allied Workers’ organisation and the Professional Fish Harvester Certification Board (PFHCB) as an advisor or as a participant in discussions regarding regulatory reform for fish harvesters including stability regulations, training and certification requirements, pollution prevention and the many other regulations under the Canada Shipping Act 2001. He has been a Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary for the past 20 years and is a member of MP Scott Simms’ district, fisheries advisory committee.
 
Jack and his wife have three children that keep them quite busy. He proudly boasts that his daughter Courtney recently graduated from Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) and is now working on a Technical Certificate in Safety Engineering at the College of the North Atlantic. His son Andrew recently completed his first year in navel engineering at MUN and is doing his first work term with Jack and his brother. His youngest son Zachary just finished grade 7.  
 
Jack teaches at the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland. But before teaching there Jack was a student when the Marine Institute was known as the College of Fisheries. He enrolled in the Nautical Science Program in 1980. He said that the completion of the course took time since he was fishing full time but his dedication paid off when he was awarded the bronze medal for highest academic achievement in Nautical Science.  During that time he also completed the FM2 and the ONII. Since then he has also completed FM1 and Master Near Coastal certificates of competency, completed his Bachelor’s Degree in Maritime Studies as well as a Post-Secondary Instructor’s Certificate and he’s close to completing a Master’s Degree in Maritime Management.
 
With this much experience at school he certainly understands the dynamics of being a student while working. Now Jack teaches Fishing Master courses and says “fishing vessel stability has become my favourite course to facilitate. It is so vital that harvesters understand stability from both a theoretical and practical viewpoint. I have often said that fish harvesters actually need to have a deeper understanding of vessel stability than do merchant seamen”.   
 
His experience with creating curriculum and his in-depth knowledge of stability was a definite asset to the creation of the Fishing Vessel Stability Simulator (FVSS) . This program is a partnership between the CCPFH and the Marine Institute. Its goal is to help teach fish harvesters about vessel stability.  Jack truly understands stability dangers and challenges. He compares the complexities of fishing vessels to that of cargo ships, “Firstly, we have no cargo manifest from which to draw information, and our cargo is a moving target. Once it’s caught, its weight and the position of its centre of gravity as a bulk cargo, is oftentimes only an approximate estimate”. He also notes that “many species, once brought on board, are fluid like, adding dangerous free surface effect”.
 
Since the completion of the FVSS, Jack has returned to teaching FM programs including stability, chart work, meteorology, GSK and other courses. In addition to his teaching he’s also accepted the role of co-ordinating instructor at the Marine Institute’s satellite campus in Lewisporte.  Jack now teaches six months of the year while the other six months are spent fishing – sometimes the two overlap.  He is now working on a new curriculum for GSK1, MET1, SCS1 and 2 with fellow fish harvesters Heather Starkes and Bobby Noble. 
 
What course would Jack recommend to those looking to advance themselves? The “Fishing Master Program at the Marine Institute is the way to go”.  He notes that the courses not only cover Transport Canada requirements but also goes into material that encourages safety methods when operating a vessel.  He notes that all the instructors at the School of Fisheries have “vast experience in the industry along with substantial credentials that students can draw upon in the class room.”
The CCPFH has had the opportunity to meet with Jack several times over the past few years when he has attended the CMAC meetings in Ottawa as an invitee by the PFHCB. His main focus at these meetings is the new Fishing Vessel Safety Regulations.   
 
He mentioned that he and those who attend the meetings with him as industry representatives from Newfoundland have with one goal in mind - improving safety and saving lives.  “None of the representatives would work to the determent of that underlying principle” he says.  
 
“One of the biggest issues that we have been debating in recent years is centered on the proposed requirements for practically all fishing vessels  to undergo some type of stability assessment…(and that vessels be) marked with recommended minimum freeboard marks.”  He adds that these issues “warrant proper consideration.” Jack fears that marine safety at CMAC sessions have shifted towards regulations that may act against safety. “I truly hope that regulatory reform is not accelerated merely for the sake of meeting arbitrary deadlines”. 
 
Lastly, Jack describes his experience working with the CCPFH.  He says that he was aware of the CCPFH for some time but his first direct work with us began in 2007 when Mr. Mark Dolomount from the PFHCB requested his attendance to a meeting in Ottawa where the first discussions about the FVSS were being held.  He attended several other meetings afterwards and eventually was asked by the School of Fisheries to develop a script and work alongside a graphic design specialist to help plan out the operation of the simulator.  He says: “Besides drafting the script, my role as content expert was mostly focused on ensuring that things looked and behaved as they would in the real world…or at least as close as we reasonably could”.
 
He speaks kindly of his work on the project. “I had the privilege to work with a great team of experts… At times it was quite challenging, as indeed most research and development work is.  Even though this was ground breaking work, in uncharted territory, I think that we made great progress. We have a useable program, one which we all (instructors at the School of Fisheries) use as a teaching aid in the classroom by the way, that harvesters can access free of charge and learn stability, in the comfort of their own homes and at their own pace.”
 
The CCPFH relies on the knowledge and skills of people like Mr. Greenham to be able to fulfill its work. We’d like to thank Mr. Greenham for his contributions to the industry and to our projects and for being our first fish harvesting industry professional in the spotlight.
Check us out again soon to see who is thrust into the spotlight next.