A big crowd join Bishop Richard Ellena, Reverend Jeff Cotton and Father David Gruscol to bless the fishing fleet at Sunderland Pier on Saturday. Photo: Jessie Johnston.

Blessing of Fleet on Saturday

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The 15th Blessing of Nelson’s Fishing Fleet is scheduled for this Saturday paying its annual tribute to those who have lost their lives at sea, along with the blessing of fishing vessels in the lead up to the hoki season.

There will be the usual fireworks on Friday night, with viewing from the waterfront and the port hills. Flares and fireworks will be set off from 6.30pm.

On Saturday Nelson City Brass will play from noon at the Seafarers’ Memorial, while the fishing boats line up along Wakefield Quay. The blessing ceremony will begin at 12.30pm, led by Bishop Richard Elena, Reverend Jeff Cotton, Father David Gruschow and Archdeacon Andy Joseph.

Seafarers’ Memorial Trust spokesman Mike Smith says the Blessing of the Fleet has become a significant winter event on the Nelson calendar, and is an acknowledgement of the important role that fishing plays in the Nelson economy and in the life of the city

“Ceremonies like this have been held around the world for centuries, but this Nelson event is unique in New Zealand – it is a colourful ceremony in a beautiful location,” he says. “It’s is truly valued by families that have lost members at sea as a way to remember them, when often there is no grave to visit.”

The Rotary Club of Nelson will be offering scallop, fish and chip cook-ups, there will be an auction of the Catch of the Day and displays from the Port Nelson tugs, Fire Service and Coastguard.

The Blessing of the Fleet is a free community event, however the public will be asked to make a donation to the Seafarers’ Memorial Trust to be used in community projects.

If Saturday is wet the Blessing of the Fleet will be held on Sunday.