あおあお5号 特集「夜がきた」
aoao vol.5

夜明けまで海の上


底引き網漁師の美馬守さんは、漁のある日は明るいうちに津田港を出港し、翌朝5時まで船の上で過ごす。遠く眉山のもとに街の明かりが灯る頃、カランカランカランカランッと甲高い音を鳴らしながらモーターで網を海へ投げ入れ、夜の漁をはじめる。徳島沖の海は、吉野川をはじめとする河川から栄養分を含む淡水が流れ込む豊かな漁場。祇園祭や天神祭など関西の夏祭りには欠かせないハモも、この海が全国有数の漁獲量を誇っている。

夜行性のハモを狙うのは、あたりが暗くなりはじめてから。海底近くまで網を下ろしたら、船をゆっくりと走らせる。気がつけばすっかり日は暮れ、月が雲に隠れたこの日は海と空の境目も分からないほどの漆黒の闇に。
「夜は網を下ろして揚げる作業を4回繰り返すんよ」と、レーダーや魚群探知機のある操舵室で舵を取りながら説明してくれた美馬さん。いつもは一人真っ暗な海の上、波に揺られながら網に獲物がかかるのを待っている。

1時間くらい網を引いた後、今度はモーターで一気に網を巻き揚げる。巻き揚げられた網にはエビやアジなどの魚たちとともに、ニョロニョロッと活きのいいハモが。かかった魚を船に降ろし、まずは凶暴で鋭い歯を持つハモを専用の鋏で手早く掴んで取り分ける。その後、他の魚たちを種類ごとにカゴに仕分け、一段落するとまた網を海へと下ろし、狙いを定めた漁場へと船を走らせる。暗い海の中、漁り火が照らす船の軌跡の向こうにはゆらゆらと街の明かりが見えていた。

ENGLISH
On the sea till dawn

Mr. Mamoru Mima, a fisherman engaged in dragnet fishing, leaves Tsuda Port during daytime and works on his boat until 5:00 early in the morning. When lights start to light up at the bottom of Mt. Bizan far away, he throws a net into the sea by using a motor, making high-pitched sounds, and starts night time fishing. The place offshore Tokushima is a rich fishing site as freshwater containing nutrients abundantly comes from the Yoshino River and others. This is one of the best fishing places to catch hamo fish (Japanese conger), which is essential for the dishes of summer festivals such as Gion Festival and Tenjin Festival in Kansai region, with the highest catches in Japan.

Since hamo fish is nocturnal, the fishing started when it became dark. After setting the net near the sea bottom, the boat started moving. When I noticed, it became completely dark outside. Because the moon hid behind the clouds on this day, there was pitch-black darkness where no boundary between the sky and sea was recognized.
“I repeat dropping the net in the sea and drawing it out of the water four times a night,” said Mr. Mima, steering the boat in the pilot house installed with a fish detector. Normally, he just waits for the moment when enough fish gather in the net in the darkness on the sea alone.

After dragging the net for about one hour, he hoisted it by using the motor at a stroke. In the net, actively moving hamo fish were found, as well as shrimp, horse mackerel and other kinds of fish. The caught fish were spread on the floor of the boat, and firstly, fierce hamo fish, which have sharp teeth, were quickly removed from the net with special tongs. Then, other fish were sort out into baskets. He again threw the net into the water and moved the boat to another target site. In the darkness, far away from the trace of the boat lit by lights for luring fish at night, I saw different lights swaying in the town.

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