The life of a true fisherman - Solomon Star News

The life of a true fisherman

22 April 2019
Tom Patterson

Fishing has long been a survival motion for the people of Fishing Village – just outside the township of Gizo, in the Western province.

It is the only main source of income for the people there and it is through fishing outside the coastal reefs of Gizo Island and fish through the outer smaller islands as far as Rarumana.

The Gizo fish market is where all their catches will be brought over to for trade.

Meet Tom Patterson, a 42 year old from Malaita part Simbo in Western province and Choiseul.

Patterson hails from the famous Fishing village just outside of Gizo. He lived there for many years now since his parents moved over to Gizo back in the 80s, just to fish around in the Western seas.

Through inter-marriage in the past, many mixed people especially from the Lau Lagoon in Malaita province moved and settled there.

Patterson then got married to a woman from Supato village, on Vella La Vella Island. He and his wife had five children which all of them are boys and they are attending school at Gizo primary.

But when it comes to meeting the needs and wants for his children, the demand can be very high when talking about preparing food every day, clothes to wear, school fees and stationaries.

The kids are lucky to have a father like Patterson - someone that is hard working and always a supportive.

He said that even though life is getting hard day by day as a father without employment, the struggle in trying to cope up with life is real.

Therefore, he decided to look at Fishing as the only means to survive.

 “Since growing up in the Western province, our family members were regarded as good fishermen.

“Over here, we usually fish around and outside the coastal reefs in Gizo and far as the outer islands in the Western seas,’’ he said.

“Marketing of fish is our only daily income as we can earn good money from the fish that we caught each day. The money earned from our catches can sustain our living constantly,” he adds.

Mr Patterson said that they usually went out to fish early in the morning before dawn with an OBM canoe with 6 up to 7 boys in the village.

 Sometimes they are inactive but that is how they live and survived since their parents told them to carry on the task.

 Besides, it is like a culture blending in and it is becoming a part of their life.

“We usually dived for fish using spear guns and net to catch fishes. These are the main techniques that we used to trap and to catch many fish to be sold the market,’’ he said.

Patterson stated that it also depends on the weather pattern.

 If it is a good time to fish, the catch will also be in bulk and that is what they wanted as they will also earn good money from their sales.

 “But if the weather condition is bad sometimes we cannot go out fishing because we know that it is going to be a bad catch for us,’’ he said.

“Normally, Mondays and Fridays are the busy days for Fishermen at the Gizo market. Our sales will be fast because many customers and Gizo residents can buy any fish that suits their pockets,” he added.

When asked about what are the other incomes besides fishing, Mr Patterson said it is only fishing.

“We did not do gardening but we only depend on the sea and this is how we survive over the passing years, since settling here.”

He expressed that sometimes when marketing did not hit their target of the day, they can also discount the prices making sure that the catches did not waste.

This is to make sure that they can be able to get ready for the next fishing trip.

However, storage too is a huge problem for them and most people did not go for frozen fish but fresh catches.

In terms of the management of how they earn and save money, it is another huge challenge for them.

“It is one of the difficult thing to cope with plus living in a socialized community, money drains out quickly.

“One of the things that drains out most of the money earned from the selling of fish is Alcohol. 

 “Most of us tend to spend too much money on alcohol and the other stuffs that also bring negativity into the family,” the Malaita man said.

He goes on to say that if there is poor management on money, then there will always something bad happening to the family. This includes hunger, violence and many other anti-social problems.

Patterson stated that through their fishing activities, families living at the Fishing village can be able to live a good life.

“This is our normal routine and the cycle will keep repeating itself into the future,” he said.

The 44 year-old father of 5 also encourages all the other fishermen and other hardworking men to continue on with their fishing activities to ensure that their families stay resilient every day. 

 “It is in my blood.

“As long as I touch and feel the surface of the sea, I know that my catch will benefit my life and my family,’’ he concluded.

In Gizo