Written by Jen Finn
When I got the news in early April that Peter Prybot, 63, had gone overboard from his lobster boat, the October Sky III, out of Pigeon Cove in Rockport, Mass., my first thought was that the fishing community had lost a treasured asset. Peter was our colleague many times over — as a fisherman, photographer, author and relentless advocate for the industry he loved so well. My next thoughts were of his family and friends in the tight-knit fishing community of Cape Ann. He was perhaps best known for his book "White-Tipped Orange Masts" about the once-robust Gloucester dragger fleet. His memoir, "Lobstering off Cape Ann," acknowledged the dangers of fishing solo.
We will miss Peter's giving nature and positive attitude here at the magazine. I don't remember a time when he said he couldn't do something for us.
In memory of Peter, I encourage our readers in the region to attend a Coast Guard safety event in Gloucester on May 21 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
We have learned over the years that safety at sea is a critical element in this unpredictable industry. Even the bucolic inshore lobster fishery in New England faces the ravages of Mother Nature and the lack of certainty that comes with working in the elements.
The pages of National Fisherman have highlighted the research and results that have come out of the Commercial Fishing Safety Research Program at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. That's why I was shocked to find out that the program was slated to be cut from the federal budget for 2012.
People in this industry have had to fight to keep many fisheries open, and now we have to make the call to maintain the research arm devoted to improving the safety of the deadliest U.S. profession. But it's worth a fight. NIOSH analysis has led to inexpensive yet pivotal safety improvements like emergency stops for hydraulic gear and safety training programs.
If any industry needs a federally funded program dedicated to safety improvements and education, it's commercial fishing. We have come a long way, but there is always room for improvement when the mission is bringing fishermen home to their families.
If you would like to make a donation in memory of Peter Prybot, you can contribute to Capital Campaign of Holy Family Parish, 60 Pleasant St., Gloucester, MA 01930, or to the Peter Prybot Memorial Scholarship Fund c/o Cape Ann Savings Bank, 109 Main St., Gloucester, MA 01930. The scholarship is intended to benefit children of a Rockport or Gloucester fisherman/lobsterman.
— Jessica Hathaway
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