Nfld. & Labrador

'I'll teach her': Mom proud to show daughter the ropes of fishing

At one time, Jasmine Paul couldn't wait to get away from outport Newfoundland and the fishery. Now she sees rural life and fishing as her future.

For the first time, Jasmine Paul is joining her parents for the season, with an eye on her own fishing future

Jasmine Paul and her mom, Kathy Paul, sit on board their fishing boat in Placentia Bay. Jasmine hopes to one day take over her parents' fishing enterprise when they retire. Kathy Paul has been fishing with her husband since the late '90s. (submitted photo)

As a teenager, Jasmine Paul wanted nothing more than to, as she says, "get clear" of the outport fishing life in Newfoundland and head to Toronto. 

She got as far as St. John's. In recent years, however, visits back home to Come By Chance made her feel nostalgic about her rural roots. 

"It made me realize what I was missing," Paul said.

"And so now I'm really anxious to spend more time with my parents and my grandparents and do stuff that we did growing up." 

At 31, Paul has come full circle: she's decided that the fishing life she once loathed could be her future. This season, for the first time, Paul is learning the ropes as a harvester under the guidance of her parents.

Giving the fishery a try

Paul has happy memories of being on the water with her parents, who both fish for a living. It's a lifestyle that many of her friends in St. John's know nothing of. Many people her age don't regularly eat fish, she said, and have never even been in a boat.

"I just totally kind of took it all for granted. It was just so everyday to me," she said. 

Jasmine Paul is fishing commercially for the first time on her parents' boat. The family fishes in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland. (submitted photo)

The decision to seriously consider that lifestyle for herself came from a conversation with her parents during a visit home at Christmas. Her parents told her they could use an extra hand in the boat and invited her to join them, and Paul decided to accept the offer.

Her mom, Kathy Paul, is behind her daughter all the way.

"I'm sure she can do it. She can do anything she puts her mind to."  

Jasmine Paul will be doing it with the benefit of her mother's knowledge to help her. Kathy Paul has fished since 1997, heading out in the boat alongside her husband as soon as her youngest daughter was old enough to be left with her parents.

It's an early morning of fishing in Placentia Bay for the Paul family of Come By Chance, N.L. (submitted photo)

Sitting at her kitchen table across from Jasmine, Kathy blinks back tears as she describes those early years. 

"I used to feel guilty leaving the girls," she said.

Surprised by the admission, Jasmine reassures her mother that her early memories are golden. 

"My gosh, I'm grateful. I'm so happy to think about my childhood and how many good times that we did have," she said. 

If her parents had typical 9-to-5 jobs, Jasmine Paul said, the family wouldn't have had the benefit of flexible schedules that allowed for great family vacations spent camping or staying in cabins.

"It was the fishing industry that made that possible."

Not just a job for men

Kathy Paul was among a minority of women who fished at the time, but Jasmine says it never occurred to her that fishing was strictly "man's work."

"My mom has been doing it just as much as Dad. Mom is such a hard worker, so to me, it was just an extension of that," she said. 

"It didn't seem, I suppose, super-extraordinary because I think my mom's kind of like a super hero."

Jasmine Paul says her parents are teaching her all they know about the fishery. Here she is learning the traditional method of mending a net. (submitted photo)

Now Jasmine's hero is teaching her everything she knows about the fishing industry. Her daughter is a quick study so far, Kathy said, and not afraid of a bit of hard work — just like her mother.

The family has just finished the crab fishery for the season. Kathy says Jasmine would, without hesitation, lift the heavy crab pans and give it her all hauling on the ropes. 

"She went above and beyond, I'd say," she said of her daughter. 

A pan of codfish sits on board the Pauls' boat in Placentia Bay. The family fishes both crab and cod fish, as well as other species. (submitted photo)

The Pauls are both petite women. Jasmine Paul stands five feet three inches tall and weighs only 115 pounds. Still, she welcomes the physical demands on board, saying the work is made easier because it's rewarding.

"If you're doing something and you don't really like it then it's more difficult, but I really enjoyed it," she said. 

"Being out on the water and the fresh air and having a job to do and being useful. My body didn't ache when I got home."

Kathy Paul and her daughter, Jasmine, enjoy a cup of tea at their kitchen table in Come By Chance. (Jane Adey/CBC)

The Pauls have now moved onto fishing cod in Placentia Bay. Jasmine admits she finds this fishery a little more intimidating, with concerns about both the emotional and physical requirements of processing their catches.

"I'm kind of nervous that I won't have enough strength in my hands to gut the fish," she said. 

But her mother is quick to address her doubts.

"I think she's gonna be fine. I think she'll be able to do it," Kathy Paul said.

"I'll teach her."


If Jasmine can get through the challenges of the rest of the season's fisheries, then she and her parents will then focus on the future. 

The Pauls hope their daughter might take over the family business one day. Jasmine says she shares that hope. 

Now that she's older, she appreciates what we did for her and the rest of the family.- Kathy Paul

"Could I become skipper? Yeah," she said. 

"I am a pretty determined person. So if it was something that I did want to do, I definitely could make it happen."

For now, the two Paul women plan their next trip out in boat as they sip their tea. When asked what it's like to have her daughter by her side on the water, Kathy smiles.

"Nice. She's my buddy," she said.

"It makes me feel proud knowing, you know, she's interested in all this stuff. And now that she's older, she appreciates what we did for her and the rest of the family."

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About the Author

Jane Adey

CBC News

Jane Adey hosts CBC Radio's The Broadcast, and has worked for many other CBC programs, including Here & Now, Land & Sea and On The Go.


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