George scales back role
IN THE 40 years George Robinson has worked at the Ballina Fishermen’s Co-operative, he hasn’t seen anything affect the industry as much as the 2008 fish kill.
“We were out of action for four months, if not longer,” he said.
“It was terrible for the whole town.
“You would walk down River Street and all you could smell was rotting fish.
“The council cleaned up about 50 tonnes of dead fish from the riverbanks.
“They’d clean it up one day and the next day the banks would be covered in dead fish all over again.”
It was a difficult period in Mr Robinson’s long and interesting career in the professional fishing industry.
He has now stepped down as the co-operative’s general manager, but hasn’t retired, much to the relief of new manager Phillip Hillyard.
“George is my encyclopaedia,” he said.
“If there’s something I don’t know, I don’t have to look it up – I just ask George.
“He knows so much about this industry and has contributed a lot to the Ballina community over the years.”
Retirement isn’t on Mr Robinson’s agenda just yet.
“I think I’d get bored,” he said.
“Anyway, I like coming to work. I enjoy it.”
Mr Robinson now spends four days a week at the co-operative, with Fridays set aside for a well-earned game of golf.
“I’ve got more time to do things like that now,” he said.
“Working as the manager of a co-op, it’s a seven-day-a-week, 24-hour-a-day job. It takes up a lot of your time, but I’ve been lucky because I have had such good support from the staff.
“That makes a big difference.”
However, the stability at the co-operative hasn’t been matched by stability in the fishing industry.
It has become tougher and tougher for Ballina’s trawlermen over the years, with just 30 or so left and only eight boats.
“With proper management, I think the industry is sustainable,” Mr Robinson said.
“There are challenges, but it’s still an important part of this town.”