Lobster fishers stay rainy day ready

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Just a drop in the ocean.

Plenty of fish in the sea.

Don’t rock the boat.

The fishing industry is responsible for some of the most common and widely-used English sayings, but the popular saying most relevant to the fishing community: saving up for a rainy day.

Joanne Butland has been fishing in New Brunswick for 33 years. She’s experienced good times, bad times and everything in between.

“I’ve been in it so many years that I don’t know anything else. It’s a lifestyle,” says Butland. If you grow up around fishing, it becomes a part of you.”

After what many consider a full career, Butland still looks forward to the start of lobster season. She says the unpredictability of the industry can be scary, but is also quite thrilling.  

“There’s always the excitement of whether there’s going to be lobsters in the trap or whether there’s not,” says Butland. “Although I’ve been doing the same job for over three decades, no year is ever the same and I love that about being a lobster fisher.”

This means some years are very good for business and some years are not.

“Price was really poor for a number of years, so you had to be very efficient. You had to stay on top of your revenue and keep your expenses in check,” says Butland. “It all depends if the lobsters are going to be there and what is the price going to be—and the weather! You literally have to save up for a rainy day.”

Butland says the key to success is maintaining a good relationship with a financial institution and making sure you carefully plan ahead. 

“You need to stockpile some of your earnings for equipment upgrades, repairs and poor seasons—that kind of stuff,” says Butland. “We can’t just say, ‘this year we want to increase sales by 10 per cent.’ We just don’t have that option in lobster fishing.”

Butland joined OMISTA Credit Union in 2003 to seek advice before financing a new boat. She’s been with them ever since and says her banking experience is unlike anything she’s experienced in the past.

“It sounds simple, but I really like the fact that you call OMISTA and get a person. It’s not so easy these days,” says Butland. “You don’t have to swipe your card when you go in the door; they know who you are.  It’s a different atmosphere than I get from other banks and has always been no matter what credit union representative was taking care of me.”