SHODOSHIMA, Japan — I am peering over the prow into the cold placid water of Japan’s Seto Inland Sea. My partner is at the helm and has his eyes are trained on my back as we navigate out of the port of Omi on Shodoshima, an island in Kagawa prefecture where we had tied up overnight. It is a cool, pink-hued November morning and the sun has not yet fully risen. The motor of our yacht chugs sluggishly, reluctantly. We creep past seemingly endless rows of black fishing buoys bobbing in the sparkling water, marking hectares of noriseaweed nets that perform their function below the surface.
My partner’s task is to maneuver our 45-foot (nearly 14-meter) yacht without getting its keel caught in an unmarked net. Should that happen, I will have to dive under the boat and manually release the net. The smaller buoys are invisible in the distance, overtaken by glints of morning light bouncing off the water that stab at my eyes. “To the right!” I yelp, pointing my finger furiously to starboard. The hull lurches as we pass dangerously close to a half-submerged buoy.