Corks positions on P.E.I. lobster boats highly sought after

Steve Sharratt comment@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on March 11, 2016

Boats laden with lobster traps leave Covehead Harbour on the north shore of P.E.I at dawn on Friday May 8, 2015, for the opening of the season. The P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association says there is a shortage of second-men or corks to work on the boats, so it plans to join forces with Holland College to help attract students to a unique summer job.

©BRIAN MCINNIS/THE GUARDIAN

MONTAGUE - Tara Hiller has no problem with the rough waves that can greet a P.E.I. lobster boat during the spring fishery.

“I’ve worked in the offshore and definitely have my sea legs,’’ wrote the Nova Scotia woman. “And I wouldn’t mind hearing more about these cork jobs.”

Hiller was responding to The Guardian in an email about a newspaper article regarding the P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association concern over the lack of “back of the boat people” and an effort to attract new workers.

The idea of a chance to work during an Island lobster season caught the interest of an array of Maritimers who have sent a stack of resumes to the P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association.

“Many of the enquiries have been from men and women who have not worked in the fishery or on boats and so we are pleased with the response to date,’’ said executive director Ian MacPherson of the association. “It’s estimated that we will have quite a shortage in the coming years and we thought we might be able to attract students who might view this as a summer job.”

These workers help to haul, bait and set traps while at sea.

The association is working with Holland College to get the word out, but the newspaper story ended up hooking more than a few interested parties. In fact, dozens and dozens contacted the newspaper for information on wages, work time and how to apply.

“My name is Edwin and I’m interested in the cork job…this is something I have always wanted to do,’’ said one man from New Brunswick.

A Cape Bretoner sold himself as a hard-working labourer with a professional attitude and countless skills gained both on the East Coast and in Alberta and who has experience fishing and working in a processing facility.

But not everyone views the job as sunshine and salt breezes.

“This job is more like gale force winds, freezing hands and low wages,’’ offered one individual less than enthused about the positions. “It’s no stroll in the park…two months of work and then what?”

MacPherson conceded, “Of course it’s not all sunny days."

He is hoping a list would be compiled before the spring season opens in May and a short training session can be held to determine if applicants are truly suited for the job.