This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
DAY IN THE LIFE OF A CRABBER By Phil Scoble A


LAN STEER has a life most people would think is rather tough: getting up at 3am, on his Dartmouth-moored boat, the Superb- Us, by 4.15am and heading out of the harbour by 4.30am.


Alan uses static pots to catch crab – he works 630 inkwell style pots and these are placed in rows of sixty at set points – so Alan and his one crewman lift all of these in turn over a long day, taking the crabs out, storing them onboard, then re-baiting the pots and putting them back on the seabed, ready to be checked in two days time.


Alan goes out in all weathers. Ev-


ery time he does he will lift, depend- ing on his catch, between four and five tonnes. He never knows how good the catch will be. They then head for harbour, unload their catch and return home, normally not till 5.30pm. He laughs as I suggest this might be considered something of a punish- ment rather than a fulfilling work experience by most people. “I’m a third generation fisherman,” said the forty two year-old. “I learnt at the feet of my father, who learnt at the feet of his. My six year-old comes out with me in our small beach boat that we use on our days off to hand haul a few pots around the shore and I hope he learns to love it as I did. It’s a way of life and I don’t think there’s any thing to beat it.” After his early start in the business, Alan got the best possible education in fishing – first from his father, and then studying at Falmouth in fisheries’ techniques.


“I went under the old YTS scheme – and it was a wonderful education, as


a young man it was good to learn an- other way of doing things, although my father was of course a brilliant fisherman.” Alan’s boat illustrates his interest in tradition and sustainability – it was his father’s


- Tony “Winky” Steer -


and was built in 1964. The 45 foot long boat, made of oak and larch, still has the same Gardner 6 LXB engine it had when it was built (one Alan describes as “the Rolls Royce of ship engines”). The boat weighs 30 tonnes and is economical on fuel. “She’s a wonderful boat and has been all over – my father used to fish off the Channel Islands and Wey- mouth – but we don’t go that far in her now. We go about two miles off Start Point and have the same places we fish each time. We work with the other fishermen in the area and all keep to our own grounds – they are the same my grandfather fished.” It’s more than a way of life, it’s


clearly a passion for Alan, who is at the forefront of the drive to build an environmentally friendly and sustain- able industry for crabbing in the South Hams. He lives in Beesands with his wife and young family. It’s a small fishing community around the coast from Dartmouth that has a strong fishing heritage. Alan is determined that there will be a fishing industry in the South Hams for him to pass on to his two sons and their generation. “There are many people who believe that fishing is bad for the sea, but we think we can demonstrate that this industry is caring for the environ- ment and provides much-needed jobs. “We have been working very hard to give everyone proof how sustain- able crabbing is in the South Hams: we fish a small area, we only take the biggest crab from the sea and what we throw back will survive. I’ve caught crabs four or five times during a season, throwing them back undamaged to find them again another day. “We aren’t plundering the sea, we are taking what is best and leaving the rest to mature and grow. South Devon crab – as the annual Crab Festival celebrates – is just the best you can get and we are proud to bring it in.” Alan’s enthusiasm comes through as he chats about the job he has been doing since he was 16.


“I just love this job and the life I have and I want to ensure it continues for future generations,” he said. “We don’t do it for the money, but we do it because we enjoy it. It’s a fantastic job.”•


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84  |  Page 85  |  Page 86  |  Page 87  |  Page 88  |  Page 89  |  Page 90  |  Page 91  |  Page 92  |  Page 93  |  Page 94  |  Page 95  |  Page 96  |  Page 97  |  Page 98  |  Page 99  |  Page 100  |  Page 101  |  Page 102  |  Page 103  |  Page 104  |  Page 105  |  Page 106  |  Page 107  |  Page 108  |  Page 109  |  Page 110  |  Page 111  |  Page 112  |  Page 113  |  Page 114  |  Page 115  |  Page 116  |  Page 117  |  Page 118  |  Page 119  |  Page 120  |  Page 121  |  Page 122  |  Page 123  |  Page 124  |  Page 125  |  Page 126  |  Page 127  |  Page 128  |  Page 129  |  Page 130  |  Page 131  |  Page 132  |  Page 133  |  Page 134  |  Page 135  |  Page 136  |  Page 137  |  Page 138  |  Page 139  |  Page 140  |  Page 141  |  Page 142  |  Page 143  |  Page 144  |  Page 145  |  Page 146  |  Page 147  |  Page 148