Fishing tends to be an insular world that isn’t always welcoming to strangers. There are subtexts and customs that an newcomer is almost expected to absorb and understand by a process of osmosis. This stuff will rarely be explained to you – and there may be odd looks of disbelief if you ask about something that’s a fact of life for someone who grew up around fishing, but which for an outsider an be downright weird.
Often it’s the outsiders, the people who found their way via luck or coincidence into this strange and colourful world, who are the ones to challenge deeply-held beliefs; the ones who ask just why something is done like that?
Why can’t you longline for cod in the summer as well as the winter? Is there a good reason for dropping the gear one way and not the other?
Stop and think about it. A lot of the time the standard answer, that it was good enough for Grandad, or because it’s always been done this way, is no longer good enough.
It’s the people like Yumi Tanaka, who came to the fishing industry from a successful career elsewhere, who are the ones who see things clearly, who don’t have prejudices or preconceptions. These are the people who often find new ways to do things, seek out new markets, adapt technologies and techniques, bring fresh ideas.
Fair enough, maybe it worked well enough for Grandad, but things were different then, and times are changing.
So when an outsider asks what sounds like it might be a weird question, maybe it’s as well to ask yourself the same question.