Freo Doctor Lives for the Sea

• All hands on deck. The Paratore family. Aria and Anthony not pictured.

Local crayfisherman James Paratore practises medicine in his spare time

by Jane Grljusich
Herald Promotions

James Paratore is up before dawn most mornings to fish, then heads to work as a GP.

It’s something he’s done all his life, helping his father, Joe (71), while at school, and university completing pharmacy and medicine degrees.

“So first a pharmacist, then a doctor, but always a fisherman!” James told the Herald.

Since Back of Boat lobster sales kicked off, it’s been all hands on deck for the 39 year-old, with wife Ana Sivak doing orders, sister Vanessa and brother-in-law Anthony Fico setting up web and Facebook pages, and even nephews Reuben (11) and Roman (8) helping out.

James said it wouldn’t be long til two year-old daughter Aria is on board too!

Joe skippers Vanessa James, named after his children, bringing fresh lobsters to locals on our jetties.

• James Paratore as a child.

Like most of our fishers, it’s a family affair, steeped in Fremantle’s rich and colourful migrant history.

Past generations were artisan fishermen in Falcone and Messina, Sicily, with uncles Zio Franco in Follonica and Zio Filippo in Falcone still fishing.

“It’s really in our blood and extends to the women too, helping to mend nets and prepare the gear,” James said.

Joe arrived in Australia alone in 1968 to fish with his uncle Carmelo Barresi on board Franica at Ledge Point.

He later fished with cousins from Fremantle to Bunbury before buying a share in the 38-footer Blue Seas in 1980.

In those days they’d catch their own bait.

The days were long, and there wasn’t much rest.

That’s where the story of the small family fishing business in Australia began, and local history was written.

James juggles his roles as fisherman, and doctor, which he says gives him a unique work-life balance.

“The two jobs are very different: one in the confines of a medical centre, the other 20 miles off the coast of Fremantle, just south of Rotto, with a breeze over our shoulders, greeting the morning sun, salt spray to wet our faces, and the sweet sounds of the ocean around us,” he said.

“At those times, the worries of the world are behind us, and it’s just Dad and me doing what our ancestors have done for generations.”

• Joe as a teenager in Sicily.

He says fishing is a way of life, and wonders if his generation will be the last.

“There are less fishermen these days and I want it to continue. I want others to learn how to harvest the freshest, highest-quality seafood, and provide it direct to the community. For that to continue we need local people to back us and champion the cause because the political and other challenges we face are growing and sometimes seem insurmountable,”
James said.

“For now, we take one day, one week, and one season, at a time, but we’re invested in the future of this beautiful fishery no matter what bumps lie ahead!”

• Blue Seas.

Back of Boat lobster sales have meant the world to the Paratores.

“It’s long overdue and brings us back to our origins as artisan fishermen selling the morning’s catch straight from the boat: it’s given us great joy to see the support we’ve had,” James said.

The Paratores, like the Camardas, and other local Freo fishing families selling Back of Boat lobsters, have made a commitment to sell direct to locals throughout the year – not just at Christmas.

“You cannot get a fresher, “greener” product than what we deliver when we land our catch!” James said.

The Paratores are even giving away their secret family recipes but James says the simplest way  to enjoy lobster is sashimi/ceviche style which can only be enjoyed if it’s freshly-caught. 

• Dice the lobster meat into small cubes, marinate in lemon/lime juice with wedges and place over a bed of ice to keep cool. Prior to serving add a dollop of sweet chilli sauce or soy sauce with wasabi.

James says with lobster, “the less you do, the more”, but shares his dad’s peasant-style recipe Joe’s Pasta, Piselli, Patate for those who want to make a few lobsters go a long way.

“In the old days, this dish was made with whatever was around – peas, potatoes and pasta – and Dad adds some fresh lobster meat which sweetens it – and it will serve six hungry adults easily,” James said. 

• Soften a whole chopped white onion in a decent amount of olive oil over a medium heat. Add half a kilo peas and five or so potatoes diced. Add one tin of peeled diced tomatoes. Add meat of three lobsters (more or less). Add some water to cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Prepare some pasta in salted water (Dad uses the small shells – about 500g for six people), drain and add to the stew. Season with salt and pepper. Add Parmesan or Pecorino and use fresh bread to “mop up the plate”.


Mornings at the fuel jetty (near 28 Mews Rd) No pre-orders, first come, first served 

Other Days Contact local fishermen to arrange

Facebook BackofBoatLobsters Email

For other traditional local family recipes – ask your fisher when you pick up – or visit

Promote your business. Contact Jane on 0417 814 128, or email

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