‘Teach a man to fish | ’ Vriesland fisherman talks about daily life in the profession
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Thakurdeen Ramchand (Carl Croker photos)
Thakurdeen Ramchand (Carl Croker photos)

By Michel Outridge

EVEN though there is a lot of uncertainty as regards fishing, for Thakurdeen Ramchand there is nothing else he would rather do for a living except be a fisherman.

The 53-year-old is a resident of Vriesland Squatting Area, West Bank Demerara and has two fishing boats which were moored at the koker in the village near the sea dam — easy access to the Demerara River.

He was not fishing that day when he encountered the team; he had taken that day off because the tide was not right for fishing, so he stayed put.

Ramchand told the Pepperpot Magazine that fishing is hard work, hard labour in adverse weather conditions and it is not certain whether he would get a good catch.

He explained that rough tides would cause the seine to burst and break up the fish pen; and that is a lot of damage to endure.

The fisherman prefers to fish during daylight hours, because at nights it is not safe and visibility is poor.

He and his three-member crew would leave their homes and go to sea from 02:00hrs to about 80 miles into the Atlantic Ocean to catch coarse shrimp and banga.

His boat is equipped with a Chinese seine and he would fish for only coarse shrimp and banga, which he would sell right in the village.

Ramchand stated that his fishing trip would last for 12 hours and he would return to the village after that to sell the catch and divide the money among his crew.

“I have been at this job for 16 years and I can tell you it is no walk-in-the-park kind of work, because you have to know about the tides and a lot about fishing before you can go to sea,” he said.

Thakurdeen Ramchand’s fishing boats

He explained that he learned about fishing from his uncle and he worked and paid Courts for a boat and engine, after which he got his own boat and seine and engine to start fishing as his small business.

Ramchand said he never wanted to work with people because he is hearing-impaired and did not want folks to yell at him.

He is, however, sad that his wife passed away, but not before she had helped him buy another boat and engine.

The fisherman stated that his wife died about 20 years ago from cancer.

“It was my wife who encouraged me to start this business and we worked hard to achieve what we have today, but she is not around to enjoy the fruits of her labour, but I am thankful I had a good woman to support me,” he said.

Ramchand reported that it took him and his wife 13 years to get their own boat and engine and it was not easy.

That day when he met the team, he was at the koker to check on his fishing boats and the tide so he could make arrangements for his next fishing trip.

He stated that his three crew members are also from the village and they are people he is familiar with and trusts because at sea it is very different from being on land and they all depend on each other to have a good catch with teamwork.

“At sea there are many things to consider such as piracy. The fear of being robbed is most worrisome, but I have to work regardless and that motivates me to keep on going — the need to earn,” he said.

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