Barry ‘Handsome Stranger’ Fleming
Position: Able-bodied seaman (AB)
One morning I fell into the water at the wharf in all my gear! The ladder rung snapped and I couldn’t figure out which way was up because it was dark. While I was down there I saw a piecost and I knew I was going to be alright.
I’ve been working at NIWA for nineteen years. Before that I was a merchant marine, and before that I was working in commercial fishing for twenty-seven years. As an AB I have deck duties. We operate machinery, perform bridge watches and safety checks and do general maintenance on the ship.
My favourite things about my job are phyllosoma – the larval stages of crayfish and the research around them because my background is in crayfish fisheries. Really, I enjoy the general science. Fishing only involves catching fish but working with NIWA involves getting to learn about the things we catch too! My favourite voyage was my first Antarctic trip we were working with a Japanese group looking at salps, using plankton nets, and deploying moorings. There was no trawling on that trip, and it was really interesting.
For anyone who is interested in work as a fisherman – get out while you can! It has changed since I was little – it used to be family work but now it has become less of a community and more commercialised with lots of factory boats.
Below: Phyllosoma larvae of a crayfish species that was caught in a mesopelagic trawl during the voyage.