Fri | Sep 20, 2019

She’s quite a catch! - Trainee teacher, business operator lives for the thrill of fishing

Published:Tuesday | September 10, 2019 | 12:05 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer

Thirty-six-year-old Stacey-Ann Harris is no ordinary woman.

Along with her husband, she manages a large fishing operation in Portland while also putting in full hours as owner of a popular nightclub and bar, as well as a restaurant.

But even more impressive is that this unassumingly driven entrepreneur is also a final-year student at the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE), where she is pursuing a teaching degree in primary education.

Harris and her husband employ 32 fishermen and deploy 18 boats to haul in close to 4,000 pounds of fish per week from the waters between Manchioneal and Port Antonio.

“I am being trained as a teacher. It is something I dream of doing, but I also love fishing,” Harris told The Gleaner last week Monday. “I love being close to the sea. I go out on the seas, I help with everything, and it’s good, clean money from a decent business that is also helping others achieve. I am happy.”

Our news team observed her overseeing some of her employees as they gutted a large marlin they brought onshore just moments before The Gleaner stopped by.

“This a baby, man! We catch bigger marlin regularly. Some weigh as much as 130 pounds,” one of the workers explained when quizzed about the size of the catch.

Harris said she has been in the fishing business for eight years, joining her husband in the trade he has embraced as a fisherman for 18 years.

Sea good to her

The sea, she said, has been good to her and her family.

Harris’ sprawling operation specialises in all types of fish, including the kingfish and the so-called dolphin fish. It is also a main source of marlin for one hotel.

“It’s a kind of growing business. We just have one hotel supplier at the moment, but that could change. Once we have a catch of dolphin, he is called and he comes to get it after we clean it up, which, as you see, we are doing now,” she said.

“Nothing is wasted, though. The head and the tail make excellent soup and the inside is tossed back into the sea as fish food,” Harris pointed out.

Although thrilled with each day’s catch, Harris said that she is increasingly worried about the negative impact of climate change and what that will mean for folks like herself and her husband who depend heavily on the sea for a living.

“Fishing is our livelihood. We have children going school, we have our personal responsibilities looking about, we have bills to pay, so I guess we will have to look into the potential impact of climate change even more to see what can be done,” she said.

“Climate change is a very serious matter and as someone who depends on the sea, it’s even more important to understand what the changes will be and how it will affect things, how it will affect my community and this country,” she said.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com