ARISAIG: Stevie MacInnis was a fixture in the community and for decades he could catch the tuna no one else could.
The 68-year-old MacInnis was born and raised in the coastal community of Arisaig, and spent his whole life making it a better place. He died in a fishing accident off Port Hood on October 6, when he was pulled overboard after getting caught up in a net.
“Stevie loved his community but he was a true family man,” Municipality of the County of Antigonish District 1 Councillor Mary MacLellan said of her late friend. “He touched a lot of people’s lives in a lot of different ways.”
For over 50-years, MacInnis was a commercial fisherman, was the owner-operator of MacInnis Bluefin Tuna Charters, and was the longest-serving fisherman out of the 23-boat fleet that uses Arisaig harbour.
MacInnis was a highly-respected member of the fishing industry and anybody that knew him knew he was well-known for lending a helping hand to anybody who may possibly need it.
“One lady was surfing out on the water a few years ago, the wind picked up and she drifted off and couldn’t get back in,” MacLellan said. “I don’t know how [Stevie] found out about it, but she was panicking and didn’t know what to do. She said she was never so happy to see someone’s face as to when Stevie pulled up beside her.”
Along with helping out in any way that he possibly could in the community, he also acted as a mentor to the younger generation of fisherman.
“He was that type of person. He was always helping people, and wanted the absolute best out of everyone in the community.”
MacLellan highlighted MacInnis’ importance to the development of the community, and how he was a strong worker but never wanted any recognition.
“Stevie and his wife Mary were founding members of the Arisaig community development committee,” she said. “They worked tirelessly to help promote and help build the community.”
MacInnis offered free fishing excursions on his boat, he helped build the community, quite literally as he assisted on building the community hall, interpretive centre and the lighthouse.
MacInnis was a member of Arisaig’s Harbour Authority, the Gulf Nova Scotia Tuna Association, the Canadian Auxiliary Coast Guard, an industry representative for Atlantic Large Pelagics Advisory Committee, and is part of Tag-A-Giant, the bluefin tuna tagging project.
Away from fishing, MacInnis worked with the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation for 46-years.
MacInnis died in the same area where two fishermen from Port Hood lost their lives last May and is a very-real reminder of the dangers fishermen face out on the water. This brings the total number of fisherman who have lost their lives on the water this year to seven.
MacLellan said there’s been a lot of discussion in the community about what to do to honour MacInnis.
“It’ll be related to the wharf and water but something will be done in his memory.”