WAFIC Joins 2017 Blessing of the Fleet
WAFIC is very proud to have sponsored the 69th Blessing of the Fleet last weekend – an important cultural event located in Fremantle. This year, the day not only included the parade which travels from St Patrick’s Basilica to Esplanade Reserve and the Fishing Boat Harbour, but ‘Little Italy’, a weekend long festival and celebration full of Italy cuisine, music, art, entertainment and fireworks.
An annual event in Fremantle’s calendar, the history of the Blessing of the Fleet goes back to 1948 where it was introduced by Italian Migrant Fisherman, many whom migrated from Molfetta and Capo d’Orlando in Sicily, who brought this tradition to their new seaside town. Those migrants left their homes and boarded ships bound for Western Australia looking for better opportunities, bringing skills and culture to the promising WA fishing industry. Similar festivals are held where every there are Molfettese communities around the world, including South Australia.
Held on the last Sunday of every October, the event sees hundreds of people head to Fremantle to bless the fishing fleets. Onlookers line the main street to watch the procession as two statues of the Virgin Mary are brought out of the basilica and are led through the streets of Fremantle, down to the harbour. Congregants behind the team of statue bearers take turns to carry the heavy Madonna during the slow march across town.
Besides the festival atmosphere of the day, the weekend provides families, many who have been involved in the procession for generations, and the general public, an opportunity to pray for a good season and safe return of the fleet at the end of their season. The blessing acts as a reminder that our fishermen are never alone when facing the might and tumult of the seas and is a time where the community remembers those people who lost their lives at sea and thank those who established and were part of the history of WA’s vibrant fishing industry.
WAFIC staff had the opportunity to educate the public on the commercial fishing industry, its economic value and the people involved.
Danika Gusmeroli, WAFIC’s communications officer said that the annual blessing of the fleet has a long, historic standing tradition that celebrates WA’s history of the commercial fishing fleet and local fisherman.
” As the peak body for the Western Australian Fishing Industry we were delighted we could participate in one of the most important and largest historical seafood industry events to occur in WA and be able to educate the community not only on the history, but the role and duty of our fishermen and women,” she concluded.