Why We Go Tuna Fishing

Sun Myung Moon
God’s Will and the Ocean
Why We Go Tuna Fishing
August 31, 1983
Gloucester, MA

Well, without a doubt, everyone now knows that the Moonies have entered the fishing industry. One thing which has happened as a result of our fishing is that the fishermen can see exactly what kind of people we are. We go out in every kind of weather, rain or shine. We even have women fishing, doing just as well as the men, sometimes better than the men. The fishermen of Gloucester can’t help but see that.

Surely, they have been talking about it, so the news traveled, even to the city officials, the mayor included. They know what kind of transition has taken place in the last ten years since I first came here in 1974. At that time, the typical daily working hours of the tuna fishermen went something like this: around ten o’clock in the morning they’d get out on the sea and then come back around two o’clock in the afternoon, with or without the tuna.

At that time, there was no price for the tuna. If they caught a tuna, they’d come back to the docks, take a picture standing next to it, and then leave the fish behind. It was only five cents per pound, so it wasn’t even worth the effort to try and sell it. Sometimes, the fish would just lie there on the dock until it rotted.

The fishermen also remember how the price of tuna went up every year. Just by ten to fifteen to twenty-five cents a year, or less. The price never increased by any great amount from year to year. However, this year, the price came up to close to $5.00 per pound. This trend will continue and they know it; it’s almost a fact. They also realize that our movement has had an impact on this trend.

If we can catch 200 tuna at the price of $5.00 per pound, we will break even, or even do better than that. We won’t have to suffer this loss that we now take every year. Please understand that there is a vision guiding our effort; we will not end up every year like this. In the next few years, we will go beyond the loss column. Don’t have faith in the results before you. Have faith in the process. We are going towards a goal. Have faith in that.

Establishing the Tradition

We can suffer our losses year after year until we finally come to the gaining point, but other people cannot do that. If they lose out one or two years, they simply quit. One thing we never do is quit. That is truly our secret. Once this process reaches a certain point, we will begin to gain rather than suffer loss. When that day comes, and that day will surely come, people will establish the undisputed conclusion that as far as tuna goes, Reverend Moon is the “king of all kings.”

We also know that we are the ones who value the tradition. Our tradition is always this: first to create the solid foundation. No church, no business, no family or person can be successful without a solid foundation. We know that. Even now, they begin to see it, but not as clearly as we would hope. However, in a few years, they will see very clearly what I am doing and they will know I am building up a tradition so that the fishing industry will not go up and down every year, but go solidly upward, year after year. Clearly they will begin to see that this effort is not solely for our own profit.

America has only one last frontier. That is the fishing industry. There is enormous potential in the fishing industry. Everyone knows that. 70% of the major fishing grounds in the entire world are in America. The other 30% is shared by Norway, Japan and all the other sea-going countries. You can imagine what 70% of the entire world’s catch could be. It’s staggering to the imagination how much that could be, if you think in terms of pounds and sizes of catch. That ocean, of which 70% belongs to America, is more than twice the size of the land we now live on. The ocean occupies two-thirds of the globe and land occupies only one-third of the earth’s surface. The potential catch from the ocean produces far more protein than we could ever bring from the land. Fish, if you catch them wisely, are consistently there from year to year. If you take something out of the earth, such as oil, when you are done with it, there is nothing left. On the other hand, if you have the consciousness of harvesting fish, that industry can go on without ever stopping.

Does the average American really care about this? Not so much. They don’t think about this and they don’t think about what it means for the future. No American at all would ever dream that the next generation after Reverend Moon will be fishermen, but you will be, and so will be the next generation after that, and after that. Generation after generation we will become better and better fishermen. Why would we want to do that? For the sake of mankind, that is why.

Americans are not thinking like that. They are thinking, “Well, I will live this hard life, but I don’t want to encourage my children to sacrifice like this.” Some even stop their children from going to the ocean. Why? Because it is a hard way of living and the income is not that great. On the contrary, I am thinking of how to raise up these very same fishermen. After all, we are going into the same thing for which they have already lived all their life. We will embrace them and take care of them. As fast as we grow, we will bring them along with us.

This fishing industry is an important and vital industry, and it will become even more so in the future. Even though our church members may find something they have to attend to somewhere else, we have to make sure that American fishermen inherit the tradition and spirit of making a solid foundation from us. And they must carry on this vision, even if we are absent from it for a time.

People who are now fishing cannot find satisfaction in their work, unless they can get at least 50% more from their income through fishing than any job they might take on land. This includes working on shore or on a dock with boats. Why? On the land, you can plan what you are going to do, even though it rains or the weather is difficult. But on the ocean, you cannot plan like that. There are some days, even if you are ready to work, you cannot go out. The weather simply prevents you. Therefore, they cannot always depend on their income to be steady. That is, you have to gain at least 50% more of an income than if you worked the same amount of time on the land, in order to have an equal amount of income in the long run. They have to take in the factor of losing days due to hard weather.

However, the fact is that, in these times, fishermen put in the same amount of effort which others put in on the land, but often receive up to 50% less. Sometimes more, but usually less. The result is that most American fishermen eventually choose to work on the land the first chance they get something on land that is a little bit better than fishing. So, whoever will make this fishing industry viable has to manage some key areas.

The first is how to sustain the working hours. We have to get up earlier than normal and to stay out as long as possible before returning. Others are working only one day, but we have to work two days to make up for our inexperience. The second is technique. Since we have to compensate for the long hours that we put in, we have to find the better method, the faster method to bring in the fish. We have to research and study and experiment. We have to establish a new pattern of fishing. We have to study seriously several points about fishing. We have to study about the bait, the lines, how to use the lines and how to use the boat in different waters. All these things have to be studied and carried out. We have to think deeply about these things, and plan each area very thoroughly.

Tuna Fishing Techniques

Those who have joined the tuna fleet for the first time raise your hands. This is your first season. You almost outnumber the experienced members. Do you expect to catch tuna? Automatically, just like that? I don’t believe in that. If I left you to do things your own way, if I didn’t care and just let you go out and catch tuna however you imagine it to be done, it wouldn’t work. If I left everything up to you without giving you instructions and covering every detail with you, you would have never caught one fish. I know that; you know that. Every experienced fisherman knows the same thing.

Let’s think about that. The first thing that is most important in catching tuna is the boat. The New Hope is an example of this; It is simply too big to catch tuna and I lost several tuna because of this factor. Once the tuna bites your bait, no one knows which way it will go. It will go one way and then turn around and go the other. The New Hope is simply too big to change direction and go with the tuna. It’s not fast enough.

There are two propellers in the back of the New Hope. When the tuna comes back and goes underneath the boat, it often catches against the propeller and cuts the line. The tuna is trying to escape and it’s absolutely frantic. The New Hope is trying to move around and follow it, but because it is a bigger boat,-it takes a long time to maneuver it. The lines get tangled, and when we are following the tuna, the propeller is also moving. So, the line just needs to touch it and the tuna is cut off, lost.

I thought about it for many years and I kept asking myself, “how can we improve this boat so that its 100% able to catch tuna?” It was a very important question, because the result of those thoughts became the design for the One Hope. You can see that. You have already experienced the abilities of the One Hope. It can turn very quickly while following tuna. The boat is actually almost the same size as a tuna. You can move and fight the tuna, even going easily between many other boats. You simply cannot do these things with the New Hope. As you have already experienced, it is easier to manage when you tangle up the lines between your own boat and other boats.

We used to have to cut the lines all the time, but in doing that, catching a tuna became so expensive. If you cut all your lines, it is almost $1,000. I wanted to prevent that loss, not only for ourselves, but for other fishermen. They can’t afford to lose their equipment either. My major concern was how to avoid having to cut the lines after the tuna strikes. You could not work on the New Hope because of this problem. If you were on one side of the bow and the tuna went under to the other side, it was very difficult to get the lines around, especially if they were tangled. It became too expensive just to catch each tuna.

Before you plan or design a boat, you have to take all these things into consideration. The kind of fish you want to catch and the kind of boat you design must go hand in hand. We first worried about the problem of the lines. We had to design the boat with that problem in mind. My first thought was how to prevent or evade tangling, and then how to separate quickly after tangling. What you must do, is make sure that when the tuna strikes, the line can be isolated from the other lines that are still in the water. Then, you don’t have to worry as much about bringing in the lines. One person can get those other lines in while the first person works on the bow with the tuna line. Why is it so important? Most people, before we started fishing, used only one or two lines because they couldn’t solve this tangling problem. I wanted to fish with five, six, seven, even up to eleven lines, because the chances of catching a fish are much greater. Now, I am confident to fish with that many lines because we have solved this problem.

To space the line according to the depth and current are the expert techniques. We developed these things. Furthermore, the line we are now using is a perfect set-up. The line will not snap, the hook will not straighten. All of these things, we developed. You may have wondered about the line. You may have wondered why it is constructed the way it is. The reason is so that you can untie it very quickly. If you can untie it, you can prevent having to cut it, and so lose your line.

The line, if you take reasonable care of it, will last ten or twenty years. You have to understand there is a technique to all these things. You have to develop the technique. I realize that this is your first year of tuna fishing. You didn’t understand everything when you got on the boat, why things were set-up the way they were, but you fished that way and learned how. Now you have gained the experience of seven years. This means that after one season, you are in your seventh year of fishing, so to speak.

I have now explained to you how I considered the size of the boat and the tuna line technique. Thirdly, I considered the problem of the anchor line. If you put yourself in the position of the tuna underneath the water, you can see a great deal of things. There are all sorts of lines hanging down. There are many, many anchor lines. If the tuna hooks up, he will head in the direction of the anchor line. He will try to wrap around the anchor line and get loose from the hook.

The worst problem is your own anchor line because the tuna has such a little distance to go in order to get to it. Once the tuna strikes, you cannot let go of the line, no matter what. Often the tuna runs out and then turns back in, heading straight for the anchor line. If he can get to that line while it is still attached to the boat, he will cut the line holding him. We understood this by our experience. When this happens, you have to give some slack to the tuna, but you run a great risk of losing him from your line. If, however, you are already cast off from your anchor, the tuna just wraps the anchor line around its line. You have to get to the buoy and unwrap the line, but it will not cut the tuna line because there is not the same tension as when it is still attached to the boat.

Getting off the anchor line is one of the most important maneuvers that you will make fighting the fish. Once you drop the anchor line, you will have a much better chance, fighting the fish one to one, just yourself and the fish. You always have to keep the tuna line tight. Once there is slack, you can lose the fish so easily. The tuna may go up to the surface. Once the tuna bites, you keep pulling and the fish goes against the pull. But it does not always happen that way. Sometimes the tuna runs back directly against your pull, then it gives a jerk and tries to get the hook out of its mouth.

Whenever you make any maneuver with the tuna, you have to think about keeping the hook in its mouth. The New Hope lost six fish this summer and three of the cases were just like this. We lost it because the tuna was able to escape the pressure of the line and get off the hook.

Once you can clear your boat from the buoy line, you have a 90% chance of bringing the fish in. Even though you are on the boat, you have to visualize the tuna underneath and analyze how it is behaving. I am trying to teach you everything about the techniques as well as how to think about catching the tuna. It is just like you are in school again. While you are learning, you don’t understand it right at that moment, but afterwards you say to yourself, “Ah, that is what the teacher meant.” By now, by the end of the summer, you should be able to understand what I am trying to teach you.

The last point to consider is harpooning. As you know, you harpoon the fish in order to insure that you can bring it to the boat. After you successfully harpoon the fish, your task is to bring the fish close to the boat in the minimum amount of time. In this one last moment, since the tuna is getting tired and you have been constantly pulling, it comes up to the surface of the water, close to the boat. And then, he gets a glimpse of what is going on. He sees the people, the boat, everything. It is completely strange to him. When this happens, the tuna often makes one last powerful move and heads again for the deep ocean. You should expect this. Don’t pull, but give the tuna the line that he needs. Don’t let it get slack though. This is the one last chance for the tuna to survive. Then, pull it back up to the boat. Often the tuna will go straight down deep again. This may happen once or twice, even three times or more. The Japanese members didn’t understand this. Once they got a tuna harpooned and next to the boat, they thought it was a disgrace to let it go down again, but they should have done so. You have to handle the fish and expect what it is thinking to do next. If you don’t do this, then you will lose fish the more often. If you let the fish get away, it could mean thousands of dollars lost. Worse yet, it probably means the life of the fish as well.

Tuna Fishing is Training

For some people, one tuna is more than one month’s entire pay. You have to think more seriously about this. If you had $5,000 cash in your pocket and you let it drop down into the water, how deeply would you regret it? You should think about this. It is even more serious with the tuna, because you not only lose money, but the tuna probably loses its life. We are more serious than anyone else. Such seriousness is absolutely important. If we lack a serious and respectful attitude the tuna will be able to get away. Catching tuna requires the highest techniques used in all of fishing. Of course, you may not have known all these things, because you started out with little knowledge of any kind of fishing, but now that I have explained these things, you have to think about them. These techniques will be with you wherever you go, either in the fishing or ocean industry or some other kind of work. This is because you are learning to apply an attitude of the mind.

Whatever you do in the future, whatever problem you might have, you can solve it because you can connect it to the lessons you learned here. You can apply this to any other kind of fishing in the entire industry. Do you understand? It’s a little bit abstract, but it means that you are learning a type of thinking which can be applied in any other area of fishing activity. Actually, it can be applied to any kind of activity.

As you may have already experienced, this kind of fishing demands very quick and instantaneous decisions. It doesn’t leave you even a few minutes to think about it. Sometimes you have to make a decision in that very second; a man’s life may depend on you. Certainly, success or failure depends on your decision in that very moment. A wrong move and something very dangerous can happen. We always have to think in a serious and not a frivolous way. This brings us to reflect about the danger of our lives as we look to the future. At any time, something, some emergency can occur. You have to think about your life in this way. It really is serious from moment to moment.

Also, you have learned a great lesson about unity. When all the people on the boat are united and all the boats are working in harmony, no one gets hurt and the tuna does not escape from the hook-up. The tuna strikes, the tuna is pulling and you are pulling too. At that time, you are thinking about ten things or more. When you are pulling, you have to think quickly ahead, “Next is this and next is that.”

Everything is going on in your mind at once. You have to know exactly what you are going to do next. For example, Jin Sung got a hook-up. He began to pull and that was all that was on his mind. The tuna came up to the surface, but no one else knew what to do, they were just standing around and all the lines were everywhere. If you were in his position you would have to decide what to do.

Keep everything in consideration and concentrate on what you do. Always know why you are doing whatever you do and always think about the next thing that you must do. These things all have to go on at the same time. I thought for a long time and very seriously about these techniques and I want you to learn them. It is important. Never waste a moment or you might lose the opportunity. That’s what I want to teach you.

Investing in Youth and the Future

Why are we fishing for tuna? There are so many other kinds of fish, flounder, salmon and so forth, that are good to catch. Someday we will catch all of these fish. However, I am thinking first of how to catch the imagination of young people. Once a young person catches at least three tuna, he is hooked for the rest of his life. Every summer comes and this same person wants to come again. They are thinking, “It’s so hot and humid on the land, but out on the ocean it is so calm, so beautiful and sometimes adventurous.” The young person cannot but help be drawn to that.

Moonies are basically the same as anyone else in the world. Maybe getting a little bit better, but basically the same. Anyway, we need incentive in life from time to time. Don’t you think so? With tuna, we have so far been losing money, but I am never worried about that. I will never let go of the line, never let go of my belief in this. I know it is the best species to establish this tradition. Nothing changes a man quickly, not overnight or in one year. I know that it takes at least ten years for an individual, an average American young person, to take his mind and really apply it. This is especially true about the ocean. To really love it takes one, two or three years to begin. After a long time you become involved to the point where you can say, “yes, this is my future.”

Once you understand how to catch tuna, the excitement cannot be contained. When someone who knows this starts to talk about catching tuna, he cannot talk calmly, but has to get excited. He has to recreate the very moment when the tuna struck the line and go through every detail of the fight. You are laughing because you already know about this point. This is such a positive influence upon people who have never caught tuna. Sometimes you are pulling so hard on the line when suddenly the tuna gets to the anchor line and cuts off. You fall back on the boat and crash against it. These are truly experiences that make life fulfilling. Even though we lose so much money, we are not worried.

We are not fishing for one or two years. We are looking into the future, even far beyond ten years when this starts to spread and is shared by more and more people. Then, the whole tide of American youth will begin to turn towards the ocean. I am sure of that. In order to insure that, we have to spend at least ten years laying the foundation. If we do that, they can easily come to our movement and benefit from their experiences with us. Even in our own movement we have to learn. I first began to fish, and after six, seven years of fishing myself, I initiated Ocean Church. In the beginning the leaders of Ocean Church were hardly able to understand anything, but now there is a point where some of the leaders understand and they have some maturity. Don’t you feel that? So now is the time when we can begin to invest more money and practical effort.

I am always ahead of you. When you weren’t even thinking of what to do for the future, I was out there learning how to fish for tuna. Now you are fishing for tuna and I am already in Alaska. Alaska is something else. There, you can literally work through the night, because there is no night. And all that time, you are catching fish. In Alaska, you can catch halibut. They weigh up to 150 pounds and more. However, they are as big as the tuna because the halibut is flat. The tuna takes the line and just pulls straight ahead, but halibut pull by jerks. If you really like fishing, once you get to Alaska, you will say, “forget about Provincetown, forget about Gloucester.”

There’s so much there. For example, when you see the school of cod fish, you can see all the colors of the ocean. They move like a huge island of solid fish. If you had a big enough net, how many millions of pounds that would be! You have to find the way to catch them and send them all over the world. From there you could make a new tradition for the American fishing industry. Do you understand a little more clearly why we go tuna fishing? It is the best fish to start with. Once you thoroughly learn the tuna techniques, you can go on to any other kind of fishing with confidence. If you can fish with confidence, you can revive the entire fishing industry and in so doing, revive America. This is my hope for you.