Scott Kenneally is a hit among the seniors living in Harbourville who want reasonably priced halibut, and want it from the waters they can see from their front steps.
Kenneally is happy to help, since fishing for halibut close to home is one of his favourite ways to make a living.
He lives Harbourville, the community he loves to serve, with his wife Ashley, son Connor and daughters, Bella and Lariyah.
Kenneally recalls his early days as a 12-year-old on father’s boat, the Fundy Breeze.
A few years later, the purchase of a second boat and many, many hours spent on the waves later, he has continued with the fishing.
“It’s a pretty good life,” Kenneally said, speaking to Kings County News at the Harbourville wharf. “I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. It’s simple and you’re with your family a lot. If you put your work in, you get paid well. If you have a bad day out there, you appreciate the time home all the more.”
In the fall and winter, Kenneally busies himself with lobster. The spring and summer usually entail halibut and scallop fishing in various coastal waters.
“I fish for lobster and scallops on the Fundy Breeze 2,” Kenneally said, describing the larger, newer boat his father, Kevin, owns. “Fishing halibut is a lot messier than lobster and scallops. I do that on the old Fundy Breeze. There’s a lot of blood and guts, and I don’t think my old man wants that mess on the new boat.”
A significant part of Kenneally’s year is spent fishing for lobster with his father in the regional fishing season, which staggers months in spring, summer, fall and winter.
Halibut fishing brings Kenneally the most satisfaction, he said.
He’s proud to carry on the family business, supporting a local need for fresh fish.
While he occasionally supplies halibut for the local restaurant, Kenneally said his most frequent and prolific customers for the large locally-caught fish are his neighbours – the seniors living in Harbourville who can’t get enough of it.
In season (from April to May each year), Kenneally said seniors in Harbourville approach him two to three times and order up to 40 pounds of fish a time.
“They don’t get that fresh halibut for the price they can get it from me,” he said. “Not too many people do that anymore.”
Kenneally’s fondness for fulfilling the local demand was somewhat thwarted this year.
“I usually run my father’s boat, Fundy Breeze, halibut fishing, except for this spring,” Kenneally said.
Although he was still fishing in Bay of Fundy waters, everything he caught was sent to buyers in Boston.
“I was fishing for D.B. Kenney Fisheries out of Westport and running their halibut this spring. That went to all their buyers,” Kenneally said. “So, this spring was the first year the locals had to deal with that. My customers were wondering where I went.”
An additional wrinkle in the halibut fishing he did this past spring was in the fact that he spent more on bait and fuel than he made on what he could catch.
“The halibut fishing this spring was a rough one,” Kenneally said. “There’s not a lot out there, so when you’re paying for fuel and bait and not getting it back, that’s hard.”
The fine balance between investment and profit – and the hazards a person encounters trying to achieve that balance – makes for a very precarious profession.
“It’s hard sometimes. If you invest in something like fishing, you better have your pennies set aside, in case you don’t do good,” Kenneally said.
Between the good years and bad years, and the unpredictability of both, Kenneally maintains a straightforward philosophy: “It’s a big gamble. Stick with it and you might make ‘er.”
STICKING WITH IT
Despite the disappointing spring, Kenneally remains eager to get back out on the water to once again provide halibut locally next year.
“The locals will probably grab twice as much next spring, because they missed it that much this year,” he chuckled.
Getting back to what he loves doing the most is enough of a reward for Kenneally.
“It’s great to make everyone happy, when they get the halibut, and it’s fun to be on your own family-run boat and stuff. Security is a good thing,” he said.
Speaking of family, Kenneally’s family is about to grow.
“I’m making him stay home a whole lot more now,” his wife Ashley, 37 weeks pregnant, said.
They have a daughter on the way.
For Kenneally, it’s good to be able to work close to home, since the big day could arrive any time now.
Staying close to home, however, is not always possible. He recently returned from a job on the waters off Yarmouth. On a boat owned by Comeau’s Seafoods, in the Georges Bank area, Kenneally helped catch 40,000 pounds of scallop in a little over a week.
In the coming days, Kenneally is grateful that his fishing will have him working in the Chignecto Bay area.
This marks the first summer scalloping has been opened in the area. With some consternation, Kenneally said the scallop quota has been increased from 40 to 90 tons.
This is a decision he is wary of, noting that he believes the Bay of Fundy scallops need more time to grow.
“If you keep fishing them when they’re small, the people who have to fish them to make a living are going to have a hard time doing it,” he said.
There’s never a dull moment in the life of a Nova Scotian fisherman. When he is done with the scallop in Chignecto Bay, Kenneally will immediately switch gears to the next duty in his line of work – preparations for the return of the Bay of Fundy lobster season in October.