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Dongara Blessing of the Fleet festival marks 50 years of celebrating the community’s fishing industry



#Dongara #Blessing #Fleet #pageant #marks #years #celebrating #communitys #fishing #business

Certainly one of Western Australia’s coastal communities celebrated a milestone throughout an annual fishing pageant on the weekend.  

The Blessing of the Fleet custom has developed over time, and was first launched in Western Australia at Fremantle in 1948. 

Many years later, the native chamber of commerce and business hosted Dongara’s first Blessing of the Fleet in 1973 on the Denison foreshore.

However blessing is a centuries-old custom, with roots in southern Europe.

Saturday marked 50 years because the occasion began within the Midwest coastal city, with a couple of dozen embellished vessels parading the Port Denison marina in entrance of a whole lot of individuals. 

A group of people dressed in costumes waving on a boat
Competitors was fierce for the coveted best-dressed boat prize. (ABC Information: Phoebe Pin)

Pastor Doug Higgins and Reverend John Muller stated a blessing of safety and prosperity over every boat, her crew and their households, as they got here again into the harbour. 

One vessel additionally acquired a prayer of gratitude, because it helped a ship experiencing mechanical points return to shore through the occasion.

Two men speaking to a crowd on a jetty
Pastor Doug Higgins and Reverend John Muller stated prayers over every vessel.(ABC Information: Phoebe Pin)

Regardless of the pageant’s Catholic roots, Reverend Muller stated the pageant continued to be loved by a various group of individuals. 

“I believe it is vital for individuals, no matter whether or not they’re non secular or not, to know that someone is caring for them,” he stated. 

“It provides the individuals going out to sea somewhat sense of safety that somebody or one thing is watching over them.” 

For skippers like Gus Shields, the occasion marks the beginning of one other season fishing rock lobsters.

A man stands in front of a boat
Bagheera skipper Gus Shields has excessive hopes for the approaching yr.(ABC Information: Phoebe Pin)

His household has been fishing off the Abrolhos Islands for 3 generations and Mr Shields stated he was optimistic in regards to the new yr. 

“Final yr’s season was eventful — the worth in all probability wasn’t the place we wished it to be, however hopefully this yr it picks up,” he stated. 

Geraldton Fishermen’s Co-operative chief govt Matter Rutter stated the fishing communities of the Midwest had been hit onerous by business pressures. 

“Economically it has been powerful, prefer it has been for a lot of industries, resulting from COVID. However all in all, we’re nonetheless a really lucky fishery and lots of that has to do with the neighborhood and the truth that the fisherman all band collectively,” he stated.

A man stands in front of some boats on a jetty.
Geraldton Fishermen’s Co-operative chief govt Matt Rutter says 2022 was a tricky yr financially for a lot of fishers.(ABC Information: Phoebe Pin)

“We’re fortunate that it is such a wholesome fishery and it is actually sustainable.” 

Fishing in and round Dongara turned a significant income after World Warfare II, however Irwin Districts Historic Society chair Bruce Baskerville stated the dimensions of the business had decreased. 

“Within the Seventies, when the Blessing of the Fleet pageant began, there have been native crayfish factories and an enormous itinerant workforce coming and going on a regular basis, which generated lots of enterprise on the town,” he stated. 

A man in a blue shirt stands in front of two framed lobsters
Irwin Districts Historic Society chair Bruce Baskerville says the business has developed over time.(ABC Information: Phoebe Pin)

“So sure, it is modified, as all industries do; however it’s nonetheless a world-leading sustainable fishery … and it nonetheless generates revenue that comes into the city.” 

A historical past of the business was on show on the Packout Room Fishing Museum throughout Saturday’s occasion and Mr Baskerville stated guests added to the archive with their very own anecdotes. 

Black and white photo of children with toy prams.
One of many first Blessing of the Fleet occasions in Dongara included a prize for best-dressed pram.(Equipped: Irwin Districts Historic Society)

“It is good that we’re getting that type of info and recording it now, earlier than it is forgotten,” he stated.