People of the Coast: 15-year-old Beatrice Amuso, Islesford

Some years ago, Beatrice Amuso was sitting at the kitchen table with her father, Jim, an Islesford lobsterman, and her younger brother, Xander. Her brother asked to go fishing with their father and was told no, he would have to wait until he was older. Beatrice said, “What about me?” Jim replied that she wouldn’t like it but that he would take her out so that she could see for herself. And so his 9-year-old daughter was introduced to the sea.
Today, at age 15, Amuso spends her summer months working as a sternman for Stephanie Alley, another Islesford lobsterman, and her school year in Northeast Harbor attending Mt. Desert High School, where she is a freshman. She started learning the lobstering trade six years ago with her father, who taught her to haul by hand. “It was hard hauling at first. The traps were heavier than I was,” Amuso said. Alley took her on soon after and Amuso has stayed with her ever since.
“It was a lot to learn all at once,” Amuso admits, “but it’s also lots of fun. It’s a different feeling on the water, it’s so amazing.”
Alley taught her how to bait bags and more importantly, how to stay safe on board, how to avoid becoming tangled in ropes or snagged in the hauler. “I didn’t expect her to work full-time. Each year that went by she could do more and more things. And she got very fast too!” Alley said.
Living on an island, Amuso was surrounded by people who made their living on the water. “I loved growing up on Islesford. And lobstering made it all the better,” she said. One element of lobstering that drew her attention was the array of creatures that turned up in Alley’s traps. Sea cucumbers, green urchins, juvenile fish – Amuso still watches with excitement to see what come up in the trap with the lobsters. “I am interested in marine animals and might study them when I go to college,” she said. “I’ve thought about getting my own boat too.” Amuso is halfway through accruing the 1,000 hours required to gain her commercial license.
Working on Alley’s boat has had other benefits as well. “I can do as much work as a man,” Amuso said proudly. She enjoys horseback riding and competes in track and field. Last year she was ranked 11th in the state in the discus throw, hurling a 1.6-kilo metal disk close to 55 feet. “She’s become very confident,” Alley said. “And she remembers where my traps are better than I do.”
The camaraderie between the captain and her young sternman is readily apparent. “Beatrice has added a lot to my life and perspective. It’s more meaningful and I’m getting more out of lobstering to have her on the boat,” Alley said.
“Stephanie has taught me a lot about fishing. We’re always watching out for each other,” Amuso said. “She’s taught me that lobstering isn’t just about the money, it’s about the experience. And that women can do anything.”
Beatrice Amuso is featured in the new Luke’s Lobster calendar, Lobster Ladies: Women of the Lobster Industry.