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Networking: Linda Greenlaw
Fisherman, author, consultant Isle Au Haut, Maine
May 04, 2012
Linda Greenlaw is not unlike a shark: powerful, confident, constantly on the move and hunting for fish. She’s always got several lines in the water, whether it’s book deals, television shows or literally longlines off the swordfish and tuna vessel she skippers during Maine’s temperate summers. When Sebastian Junger’s book “The Perfect Storm” was published in 1991, and when the motion picture starring George Clooney was released nine years later, the world got to know Greenlaw as the firecracker (played by Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio in the movie) at the helm of the f/v Hannah Boden. When I reeled in Greenlaw for an interview in early April, her girl was fishing for Atlantic red crabs off the coast of Massachusetts. Next month, Greenlaw will grab the wheel once more.
Greenlaw’s life is fish and it always has been. She’s fished commercially since she was 19 years old and still abounds with youthful energy and enthusiasm at 51 (maybe it’s all that salty air). At the International Boston Seafood Show in March, she was touting her Linda Greenlaw Select line of U.S. and Canadian sword and tuna distributed by Great Oceans in Jericho, N.Y. All of that fish is harvested with environmentally friendly methods, something she’ll be teaching to Kenyan fishermen in a unique opportunity this fall. Sharks never stop moving.
How much time do you spend at sea and what are you fishing for most?
I’m really looking forward to the bluefin tuna season. I’ll start as soon as my boat goes in the water, hopefully fishing by June 1. And I’ll fish for about five months. That’s the bulk of my commercial fishing right now. I’m also working as a consultant with a company that’s based in Dubai (Solas Marine), training fishermen in Kenya. It’s very cool and I’m really psyched to be doing it. I’ve been doing this (fishing) for what, 30 years, and finally something I know is worth money to someone! I’m a consultant? Who knew that would happen?
What will you be teaching them?
When the new boats are ready, I’m going to teach them how to fish with modern gear, modern boats and environmentally friendly techniques to get them started on the right foot. I had an opportunity to go on two different boats and they are just so far behind what we’re doing now, just gear-wise. It’ll be good to get them going in the right direction, things that we learned the hard way.
Are you worried about pirate activity there?
It is just 50 miles from Somalia. I wasn’t really concerned about going with the locals, because there’s nothing on those boats that a pirate would want, except for maybe me! I’m scheduled to go back in November.
What are they catching over there?
I was amazed. The target is sword and tuna, but they can sell everything they catch: shark, sword, tuna, mahi. It’s a huge resource there. But they have no electronics on these boats, not even a compass, and yet the guys are catching fish. It’s a really healthy resource.
I went there with the idea that I’d be training these guys to fish with modern longline gear, and I came home knowing I’d have to teach them how to maintain a diesel engine, electronics, navigation, how to take care of the fish because they don’t use ice — everything.
Few can manage multiple careers. How do you do it?
I do have a lot of careers: my books, my fishing, my consulting and Linda Greenlaw Select. But it’s all fish. It’s all I’ve ever done. I think that everything is falling into place really nicely. If I were doing something that wasn’t fish-related, I might have a problem managing it all. But I don’t know anything else.
How does it feel to have your own brand?
It’s exciting. It’s something brand new to me. I’ve been thinking about something like this for a while, and we had a little experiment with Hannaford a couple of years ago, but it was fish that I was catching. So it was very limited. At the end of the day, the goal is to promote seafood consumption in this country.