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Paul Scott

Fishing Skipper


“It’s a challenging lifestyle on these old boats, you’ve got to keep them alive and keep your crew alive – you really have to do it to understand,” says Paul Scott, skipper of Nimbus, a 50-foot wooden fishing boat that operates out of Nelson.

“There’s a lot more to it than luck. It’s not just something everybody can do – the more times you go out the better you get at it.” In fact, it can take years to developing all the skills you need, he says.

Paul's fascination for boats began when he was a child. “I could row a boat before I could ride a pushbike. We had a bach in the Sounds – you can’t really ride a bike down there, so I learned to row."

Paul’s first job on a fishing boat was as a deckhand on a deep-sea trawler when he was 19. He did this job for a number of years before moving on to earn his commercial skipper’s ticket while working on mussel farms. But after six years in the mussel industry, Paul decided it was time to get back into fishing.

Paul is now mostly based out of Westport, but his job takes him to coastal fisheries all around New Zealand. “We’re about to embark on a tuna voyage and that could take us as far north as Ninety Mile Beach. By the end of the tuna season I presume we’re going to be catching them as far south as Bruce Bay [near Haast, on the West Coast], so that’s a pretty big area."

It's a job that attracts a certain kind of person, says Paul. “A lot of skippers are the kind of people that don’t really like to answer to anyone else. Between leaving the wharf and getting back you’re the man, so there’s a lot of freedom in it.

“It’s just a great thing to do. It's satisfying coming home with good freight. The money’s nowhere near what it used to be, but I wouldn’t do anything else.”