BOOK REVIEW | You’ve Gotta Have Balls

Throughout his now lengthy life, Port Lincoln-based fisherman Joe Puglisi has been one of the great innovators, leaders, and entrepreneurs of the Australian fishing industry. Learning of and trying to emulate his success could be of invaluable benefit to the current generation of Australian fishers and, indeed, to those of most other countries. That makes this fascinating book particularly important.

Overcoming an unfortunate and miserable childhood, Joe grew up quickly and very smartly. At seventeen, he was the skipper of the largest trawler on the New South Wales coast. Thanks to finding the perfect partner in his wife Dorothy, as well as a loving family in her parents, he acquired the stability that enabled him to go forth and achieve so much.

Always a pioneer and innovator, Joe moved on from his Sicilian family-dominated port of Ulladulla on the south coast of NSW to throw himself into the southern Bluefin tuna fishery that was then developing at the once-quiet Port Lincoln in South Australia. That fast-developing and very multi-cultural place quickly became Joe’s natural home.

While taking big commercial risks – hence the title of his book – he, with several other competing friends, pioneered the tuna fishery and eventually developed the techniques of “tuna ranching” that have made it into the fully sustainable gold mine that it is today.

Along the way, he ventured equally successfully into prawn trawling and other lesser fisheries while establishing the processing and logistical infrastructure necessary for the development of those lucrative fisheries. All the way, though, he worked closely with and led his industry colleagues and competitors and some far-sighted bureaucrats to ensure that their part of the industry became the ultimate in sustainability, so much so, in fact, that Port Lincoln’s fisheries are widely renowned as the world’s best-managed.

All those achievements were not made as easily as it sounds. Many obstacles, both governmental and commercial, had to be and were overcome. Meanwhile, Joe and Dorothy became successful property developers benefiting from the growth of the town they helped to enrich while enjoying the warmth and support of the strong family that he lacked in his youth.

The narrative is a brilliant Australian and fishing industry success story that has been very well and modestly told.

Author: Joe Puglisi

Available in electronic form from the Mitchell Library, Sydney, NSW.

ISBN: 978 06484 3890 8.  Dewey: 639.2092.

Neil Baird

Co-founder and former Editor-in-Chief of Baird Maritime and Work Boat World magazine, Neil has travelled the length and breadth of this planet in over 40 years in the business. He knows the global work boat industry better than anyone.