Thursday, April 18, 2024

Brome hooked on fish nets


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Levere Brome believes he is one of just a few men in Barbados who can still make the nets used by those fishermen who sail the seas looking for flying fish.
He is so passionate about passing on the skill that he said: “They could put me in the yard under a tree or they can put me in a matchbox; as long as I have room to hang up one of these nets and show the children how to make them, I would be good.”
Brome says he is one of about six people in Barbados who can still make the dip and gill nets and at 69 years old he lists himself as the youngest.
He fears that when he and the other artisans, some in their 80s and 90s, call it quits the skill which is so important to the fishing industry will be lost.
For ten years he has been trying to get into the schools or the skills training programme of the Barbados Vocational Training Board to teach the skill to interested people “but my requests have been falling on deaf ears”, he complained.
“I am not asking for a fee. I just do not want the skill to die,” Brome told the DAILY NATION.
Brome pointed out that gill nets were an essential part of the fishing industry.  
He said that with the fishing industry pumping more than $20 million a year into the economy, he could not understand why Government was not paying greater attention to it.  
He charged that Government was “dragging” its feet and warned that it could eventually face a heavy price tag to keep the industry afloat.
“What they will end up doing when people like myself pass away and there is no young person to pick [the skill] up is they will hire someone from the Korean island where they will have to pay a bundle of money when the month comes . . . ,” Brome predicted.
He said he had been taught net-making by a teacher at Speightstown Boys’ School. He estimated that the skill could be picked up in one lesson “if you put your mind to it”.
He recalled that he went to a primary school to do a demonstration on net-making a few years ago. He told the principal that he would like to teach schoolchildren the skill, but the principal said that it would detract from their education.
“That had me so upset, I said to him: ‘Do you believe that every child would like to be a lawyer, a doctor, a nurse? More will drop out than those who succeed, [but] once you have this skill in your head it is yours for life. It is nothing that you will forget. No matter how long you stay away from this, when you come back you will pick it back up, even if you have a little rusty spot.’
“That hurt me for days and they had some children there who wanted to learn, who were really interested,” he added.
People from all over the island bring nets for him to repair. Some call for a new net.  
Brome said that some nights he sleeps at the fish market during the fishing season.
“A man may come in and be leaving the next morning and wants four nets done and I have to sleep right here to get those nets done”, Brome noted.
He said there were more than 100 boats at the Bridgetown Fisheries Complex and many more at the other fish-landing sites around the island, with each boat carrying between nine and 15 nets. Nets are changed every few months, he reported.
Brome said that his workload had been increased because just last week Carter’s Fisherman’s Corner had requested nets.
Their supplier, an artisan from Baxter’s Road, could no longer provide them with nets, he explained.
“I have to take up his slack and it will add more pressure on me because I cannot tell them no,” Brome said.
One concern he has is that he can no longer work as fast as he used to.


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