April and I connected the way many modern friendships do – long-distance, and virtually through Instagram.
There we were, two partners of commercial fishermen (PCFs), one on the East Coast and one on the West, dealing with the same emotional challenges as the rest.
The sisterhood of women in this lifestyle can only be compared to that of military wives. We stay behind worrying, tending to home responsibilities while our men go off to work in one of the most dangerous industries in the world for long periods.
Although many of our closest friends can’t relate to this lifestyle, this bond we have, no matter where in the world we live, makes us realize we are not alone! It makes the experience, dare I say, a bit more tolerable. So, without further ado…
Tell us about your fisherman.
His name is Russell Ostapchuk. He fishes mainly for Loligo squid but also fishes for fluke (summer flounder), winter flounder, scup, and whiting.
He works on the F/V Mattie and Maren out of Point Judith, Rhode Island.
How long have you been together?
We’ve been together for almost 15 years! It hasn’t been without its ups and downs, but I’m sure glad that it’s him I’m on this journey with.
Did you have experience with the fishing industry before you got together?
Not me personally. But he has cousins that are in the industry.
What tips can you share with others navigating this PCF life?
- Patience is key. There’s going to be great times, bad times, and downright monotonous times. You learn to adapt pretty easily, though.
- Show interest. I didn’t know a thing about commercial fishing, and now I’m still trying to keep track of all the things my husband tells me about his job. He always says that it’s all he talks about, but I truly don’t mind. You literally have to live this lifestyle 100%; it’s all or nothing.
- Love. Show it, say it, feel it, do it.
What is the hardest part of being a PCF?
The uncertainty is the worst, especially with everything going on worldwide right now.
Our goal is to be able to save enough money to get our own boat and licenses because that’s what makes the most sense in the long run.
This industry will chew you up and spit you out without batting an eyelash. But on the other hand, if you put the time and effort in, it will take care of you like no other.
The helplessness that you feel sometimes. As I said, it’s not known as the most dangerous job in the world for no reason – there’s no room for error.
What is the most fun?
My husband having this job means that I finally get to stay at home with our children. It’s a blessing.
What does being a PCF mean to you?
It means everything to me. It means I get to share my life with the strongest man I know, and we now have the opportunity to pursue our dreams that we thought were almost impossible.
How can others support our domestic seafood market?
Buy local! That’s the best way I know. I see frozen imported seafood in the supermarket, and I’m proud to know the difference. Anything other than what he brings home is trash to me.
Are you a partner of a commercial fisherman? What’s your favorite part of being a PCF? Please share in the comments below!
In Case You Missed It:
FROM COMMERCIAL FISHERWOMAN TO MOTHERHOOD: Q&A WITH SERENA DABNEY
From Homeless to Commercial Fishing Woman w/ Jasmyn Te’o
IF YOUR LOVED ONE IS A FISHERMAN, JOIN THE PRIVATE GROUP, PARTNERS OF COMMERCIAL FISHERMEN HERE!