When Billy Henneberry was 15, he left school to start fishing out of Sambro with his grandfather, father, uncles, and older brother. At age 23, he went back to school for five months to get his Fishing Master Class 3.
Now, Billy is captain of his own vessel. He operates his company, Emry & Boys Limited, with his wife, Meghan, who runs all the non-fishing aspects of the business.
Billy Henneberry with his son, Davis, at the family wharf in Sambro a few years ago. Davis, now 8, goes lobster fishing with Billy in the spring (school and weather permitting).
In 2018, he purchased a lobster licence, a small boat, and a core fishing licence. “That’s when I went through the Loan Board for the first time,” he says. His loans officer was Colleen Frizzell. “I can’t speak highly enough of her,” he adds. “She made things very, very easy. Any question I’ve ever had, she’s always been there.”
The following year, he leased a swordfish and tuna licence to expand the business. He also borrowed from the Loan Board twice – to buy a better boat and then a halibut licence.
With the three key licences, he could fish all year. “That’s the only way I could bring in enough money to earn a good living and pay for the boat and the licences,” he says. “It was a big step. And I’m proud that I took the step.”
He’s also proud of contributing to the Nova Scotia economy. “The lobster fishery creates a lot of jobs that keep workers here, rather than going out west,” he says. “I provide six direct jobs: my wife and myself, and four crew members.”
Captain Billy Henneberry and crew members Kyle Clark and Steven Popovich. Swordfish sales were their top revenue for the past two years. The photo was taken on Billy’s boat The Brittany & James (financed through the Loan Board) just off Sambro Bank.
Fishing all year is necessary because times have changed, he points out. “My grandfather, my father and my uncles are doing well, and they’re the hardest workers you’ll ever meet. But when they got into the fishery, lobster licences cost next to nothing. The only reason we do as well as we do is because I go swordfishing, I go lobstering, I go tuna fishing, I haul the fish – everything. And I’m fortunate to come from a family that taught me to catch tuna and swordfish.”
Today, it’s almost impossible for a young person without some sort of backing to get into the fishery, he says, but the Loan Board makes it possible. “If there was no Loan Board, I’m sure a lot of people wouldn’t be able to get in here, including myself.”