NEVILLE Clarke and Iain Duffus make a great team. They are commercial fishermen at Port Franklin.
“My family go back over 100 years in Corner Inlet,” says Neville. “My father and his father before him were commercial fishermen.”
His parents weren’t keen for him to become a fisherman and he followed their advice and got into banking for 11 years then ran a motel business for 3 years.
“I eventually found my way back to Corner Inlet and fished with Dad in his later years. Here I am today 30 years later fishing with Iain. It takes two people to go out fishing, as the nets are very heavy,” he explains.
Neville doesn’t look like quitting any time soon. His father kept fishing until he was 83. He thinks he has a few more years left in him.
Iain is one of a new generation of commercial fishermen. He started out, as a dairy farmer but was always a keen recreational fisherman. He takes his son out fishing on his own boat.
“Working with Neville is a dream job,” he says. “It’s the thrill of the hunt.”
Neville explains that it’s not for everyone. “You have to love the water and the outdoors,” he says.
They have been out three nights this last week and it is freezing out there.
“It’s the thrill of the chase,” says Neville. “You never know what you’re going to catch.”
They catch a wonderful array of fish: King George Whiting, Garfish, Calamari Squid, Flathead, Silver Trevally and even Gummy Shark.
“Some of our nets target specific fish,” explains Neville. “They are called Seine Nets and have been developed specifically for Corner Inlet. We can work the net in slightly deeper water than the old- fashioned method where they filled the net on the beach. We stay in the boat. We can get rid of unwanted species and the juvenile fish, which is good for sustainability. They get away unharmed.”
There are 18 licences for the whole of Corner Inlet. It covers 50 km’s of water from Port Franklin, Port Welshpool, Port Albert all the way to McLoughlins Beach.
Neville goes out 2 or 3 times a week. “It’s very dependent on the weather. If it’s windy it is very difficult,” explains Neville. “It’s basically Monday to Friday. There are a lot of rules and regulations and we fishermen also have our own Code of Practice. We all got together and decided to restrict our shots to twice in one day. We can work day or night with the technology these days like GPS and depth sound,” he says.
Corner Inlet is a very important source of fish for Melbourne. Some fish does go to local fish and chip shops but most of it is transported immediately via refrigerated truck straight to the Melbourne Fish Market.
“You can’t get much fresher than that,” says Neville with pride.