Joe Batt’s Arm is the largest of the eleven communities on Fogo Island with a population of over one thousand people. It is located on the northeast tip of the island and is characterized by the rugged coastline that surrounds it. Settlers arrived in this region as early as 1712 but the community didn’t acquire its current name until several decades later. According to legend, Joe Batt’s Arm is named after a crewmember of Captain James Cook who jumped ship in order to settle down in the region. Apparently he deserted the notorious explorer in 1763 when surveying work brought them to Gander Bay. He later arrived on Fogo Island and made this coastal community his home until his death. In the old days, an ‘arm’ referred to any settlement that wrapped around an inlet. As the story goes, people living in this particular arm were so fond of Joe Batt that they named it after him.
At one time, the fishery in Joe Batt’s Arm consisted of family-run stages. The numerous stores and stages that still cling to the shoreline are a reminder of the past. Nowadays, the fishery is big business, represented by a fish plant and large fishing trawlers that make use of the harbour. The local fishermen work seasonally to catch crab, squid, cod, shrimp and turbot. These catches are then sold to various fish plants around Fogo, including the plant in Joe Batt’s Arm. Since this plant is the community’s primary source of employment, many of Joe Batt’s residents work here to process seafood which is then sold around the world.