I really enjoy the community interaction and the satisfaction of being able to sell my fresh, locally sourced seafood within my own community

Nathan Eatts

I am a sixth-generation South Australian fisherman, and fishing is truly in my blood.

My ancestors in the Eatts family moved to Australia from Cambridge, England, in 1846, landing at Port Adelaide.  My great grandpa was a fisherman who served in WW1, and during the War he was involved in digging tunnels.  When he returned from the War, he lived and fished at Port Willunga and used the skills he gained to dig small caves into the cliffs to store their boats and nets.  These caves are still there today.  At Port Willunga they fished mainly for Mulloway.  In those days there was no refrigeration, and to get their fish to market they used a horse and cart. To keep the catch cool on the journey, they would line the cart with wet seaweed, stack the fish on top and then cover the fish with more wet seaweed.  They would travel overnight from Port Willunga to the market in Adelaide, unload the fish and then on the way back home they would have a sleep while the horse took them back.  It amazes me that the horse would always find his way home!

From almost the day I was born, I was destined to fish.  Both of my grandpas were fisherman and so was my father.  When I was barely 2 years old, I was on the boat with Dad, strapped into a car seat while he fished for the day.  From that time onwards fishing has been an obsession, from fishing every weekend and after school with Dad and grandpa to sitting on the jetty catching some Tommy’s for the smoker.

I grew up and still live on the southern Fleurieu Peninsula, fishing for Southern Calamari, and it’s still my favourite species to target.  I also fish for Garfish, King George Whiting, Snapper, Australian Salmon and Nannygai.  For Garfish I use dab nets at night time and for everything else I fish during the day with hand lines.

To find the fish I look for a broken bottom and in deeper water I look for ledges on my sounder.  I fish predominantly by myself but occasionally my Dad will come out and give me a hand.  My typical day starts around 5:00am, so that I can launch the boat around day break.  I fish right through the morning and usually head home mid-afternoon, to pack the day’s catch.

I established my business, Cape Calamari, so that I can focus on selling my fish directly to restaurants on the Fleurieu Peninsula.  Although it means a lot more work to supply directly to the restaurants rather than through to the bigger fish processors, I really enjoy the community interaction and the satisfaction of being able to sell my fresh, locally sourced seafood within my own community.  I also like being able to let people know exactly where they can buy the seafood that I catch.

Like any primary production livelihood, fishing has its good and bad years. I have had to adapt to what each season throws at me, and to fish for what’s viable.  To be a successful commercial fisherman you have to be prepared to adjust to the environment like this, and also to make sacrifices and work hard.  But I feel privileged to be able to have a living doing something that I love, and to share the premium local seafood that I catch with the local South Australian community.

Out fishing, I’ve seen lots of different and spectacular things, from Great White Sharks circling my boat, to dolphins surfing the boat’s bow.  But one thing that stands out as very memorable is when I saw a whale a few hundred metres away, before it disappeared and I didn’t see it for a while.  I stood up on the esky in the back of the boat to see if I could spot it again, only to look down and see the big eye of a Southern Right Whale looking straight back up at me from beneath the boat!  Thankfully it didn’t surface right away, but it was quite curious and hung around for about 5 minutes before heading off into the sunset!

 Suite 27, 6-8 Todd Street, Port Adelaide SA 5015

Email: enquiries@mfasa.org.au