A Fisherman on a Mission

“A cubicle job would crush my soul. Not everyone is wired to do those kinds of jobs. . . I get to see the sun rise every morning. I love being my own boss.” Andy Rayner knew that he was meant to be a fisherman.

Growing up fishing certainly influenced his career path; “When I lived in other provinces or countries, every vacation was spent fishing. I love jobs that keep me outside. I can’t handle offices.”

He is the third of four generations of fishermen in his family. Andy and his son catch eel, clams, mussels, and lobster out of Jude’s Point Harbour in Tignish.

Andy joins other fishermen working to ensure a future lobster fishery. The plant he supplies lobster to is cutting-edge. “We take our industry and quality of our product seriously.”

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Only two plants in North America have European British Certification and Andy’s catch goes to one of them. The plant also belongs to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), an international non-profit organization that promotes sustainable fishing practices by researching best practices and working closely with oceanographers and other scientists. The Council requires fisheries to meet a set of credible standards order to receive its certification.

Andy says the product is handled humanely, with respect. When he pulls up a trap, the lobsters are handled gently, kept in a cool environment, and because they have a gravity-fed open circulatory system, the fishermen make sure that the lobsters are sitting upright. “If they turn on their side, we reach in and turn them back up again” Andy said.

Andy also cares for the oceans he fishes. Many types of fishing lines (e.g. nylon) do not break down. If they get detached from the boat, fish are at risk of getting caught in a “ghost trap”. Andy, however, uses biodegradable string, which deteriorates rapidly preventing fish from getting trapped should he lose a net. The MSC’s Trace Me program (traceme.ca) means that every lobster caught and kept for sale has a band with a number and the Trace Me website on it.

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“People in restaurants anywhere in the world can log on to the site, punch in the code number and see what captain, country, port, and boat caught the lobster they ate. We like to have a connection with who is receiving our product. And they can see who we are.”

After fishing season comes to an end, Andy and his wife, Lynn, travel to Mali, Africa—one of the least-developed countries on Earth—to demonstrate irrigation techniques for drought season growing. “Being a fisherman allows me to do a second job I love, so I actually have two jobs I love,” shared Andy.

Whether in Mali helping people boost their food production or catching fish off the coast of PEI, food security is Andy’s passion.
“The only way forward on this planet is sustainable harvesting. We need to protect natural resources.” Andy is clearly on mission.

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Grace Kimpinski

About Grace Kimpinski

Grace’s passion to be creative combined with her drive to get things done make her an invaluable member of the Salty team. As the sole-support parent to a teenaged… bottomless-pit… er… son, she strives to be a ‘smart’ food shopper. Although she’s not keen on writing about herself, she is very keen on eating a great BBQ’d meal in summer and a hearty stew in winter.

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