Gavin Jackman – A Man on A Mission to Change Perceptions of WA’s Seafood Industry
Albany fisherman Gavin Jackman is a fourth-generation commercial fisher who recently set up his own stall at the Albany market to sell fresh fish direct to the public. The stall has only been there for 14 weeks, but he says that it is facilitating conversations between the fisher and community. A man on a mission – he is urging the public to meet with him and discover the truth of WA’s great primary industry… For without the men and women who fish – there is no public access to fresh, local and sustainable seafood. A harsh reality.
For Gavin, fishing as a career was an obvious decision.
“My great grandfather, grandfather and dad were all tuna and estuarine fishermen on the South-Coast of Western Australia.”
“I was very lucky to fish with my grandfather and father – the only thing that has drastically changed is that we are a lot calmer than what those blokes used to be back in the day,” he laughed.
But Gavin says it hasn’t always been an easy ride and there have been many ups and downs with the lifestyle.
“We take it day by day with the hope that one day there will be a bit more security in it for us all.”
“The reality is – fishing is a cycle. You are going to have bad years and good years.”
“My mentality is, you just have to look after the fishery and respect your environment – and you will do fine out of it. I reflect on that a lot of time – and it gets you through when times are tough.”
But Gavin explains that the issue lies not just with securing access, or natural cycles – it’s also public perception. And it doesn’t help that social media exposes videos from overseas where fishing is vastly different to what it is in Australia.
“That is why the market stall is so important to us – as we can show the public exactly what takes place.”
“Historic families have been here along the South-Coast for a long time – and you really don’t get any better custodians of the water and the fishing areas.”
“These fishing men and women have been here for 100 years now and want to be there for another 100 years. We want our grandchildren to can carry on what we have been lucky enough to do.”
Gavin says that he and his family primarily beach seine and estuarine fish in the harbour with early rises being the norm.
“We also use traps in King George Sound and in the town harbour to only catch one of my favourite species – the leather jacket. We have been using this method for 80 years – and are still doing it today.”
“It is a great sustainable way to catch the fish as the small ones are returned to the water unharmed. The fish are there for years to come – and you can see, as each year passes by, that your catch is there because of the way you look after it.”
“Many consumers don’t release just how well Western Australian fisheries are managed. Something we fishers are all very proud of – and want to ensure it stays that way.”
“The days of catching 300-400 kilos of fish at one time no longer exist.”
Gavin explained that his market stall at the Albany boat shed has only been there for 14 weeks now, but already has had immense positive feedback.
“We took the fish market over from a gentleman called Graeme Kennedy and his wife Nancy – after we um’d and ah’d for a while.”
“Then we decided to just have a go – and it’s just been taking leaps and bounds each week.”
“We are so overwhelmed by the community support and the people who are getting behind us from the fishing industry.”
Gavin also paid tribute to the industry stalwarts (legends) of the seafood sector who have nurtured the young ones and ensured the continuation of commercial fishing in the South-Coast.
“Ted Mouchemore is 85 years old but still to this day he fishes with me, running around like a 20-year-old,” he chuckled.
“He is a gentleman and absolutely instrumental in keeping us young ones going with a positive mindset.”
“A lot of these older industry members like Ted don’t have sons or daughters to pass their licence onto – so they try to get behind the younger fishers.”
“They are always out there to give us support with encouragement – such as keep your head up and keep chugging along – that’s all you need to hear sometimes.”
Gavin concluded by encouraging the community to pay a visit at the markets and have a look at what their local fisher does.
“Even if you don’t come to the markets on a Sunday to buy fish off us (and we have plenty) – just come and have a chat and ask what we are doing, how we are fish and how we are sustainable.”
“We have also just set up a Facebook page, ‘Out There Fishing,’ which has been instrumental in providing us with a voice. It also features behind the scenes and recipes such as ‘how to cook’ local species.”
“Support local fishermen and historic fishing families on the South-Coast. Because once they are gone – it’s going to be hard to find decent fresh fish.”
Gavin and his family reside at the Albany Boat Shed Markets from 9.30am – 12.30pm every Sunday. He says he hasn’t missed a Sunday – and doesn’t plan too. We say go find the stall, purchase some local fish and GET TO KNOW YOUR FISHER!!!