Yuta Doi is a key figure of the fishing scene in Yaizu. The 29-year-old founder of Marine Sweeper literally cleans the seafloor for a living. With a scuba tank on his back, he dives into the sea, recovers pieces of litter including lost fishing lures and fish hooks, and what’s more, repairs, revives, and sells the collected tackle—Doi is a maker of upcycled fishing lures.
Having been fishing since he was a child and started diving as a student, Doi is a long-time lover of marine recreation. And because he’s both a fisherman and a diver, the problem of marine litter came to feel like his personal concern. The stark reality was that tangled webs of fishing lines were trapping and killing fish and crustaceans, and vast numbers of fishing lures were left to sink into the blackbox of the seafloor. Someone had to stand up to the challenge, and Doi decided to take action. This was four years ago.
In the beginning, he worked a nine-to-five job and took up cleaning on the weekend. Later, he quit his day job and launched his current business of marine sweeping. Business has not always been smooth sailing, since everything was a first. But Doi is gradually welcoming more people, companies, retailers, and users into his circle of supporters and collaborators.
“The other day, I went out to clean a fishing spot and recovered an upcycled lure that I had made myself. Yes—at last! Anyone who goes fishing is sure to lose lures in the waters. There’s no way around it. That’s why I wanted to get this cycle going where the product goes from the fisherman to the sea, from the sea to me, and from me back to the fisherman.”
The drop-offs off Ishizuhama Beach make it very easy for hooks and lures to get snagged. On this day, Doi’s bucket was filled with the 200 or so lures he had recovered the day before. The sight was so shocking that I nearly winced, but Doi sounded hopeful. In the fishing spots that he cleans regularly, he’s seeing fewer and fewer snags.
”Snagged lures used to be a fact of life. They were a joke, just something fishermen talked about—including me. Then I dared to open Pandora’s box. Upcycled lures are the secret to changing the fishermen’s awareness and way of thinking. Anyone who has bought an upcycled lure, even once, becomes more careful about the way he fishes, and that mindset becomes his for life. I’m sure of this. I mean, who doesn’t want to fish in a clean sea?”
Still a big lover of recreational fishing today, Doi is sowing the seeds of sustainable fishing right here in Yaizu.