Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The tragedy of overfishing in New England

The human cost of overfishing will be featured on national tv on January 2. PBS presents "A Fish Story," a film about the human costs of fishery management failure in the US. Check out the website for more information.

Two women are the focus, as they struggle to defend their fishing community in the face of collapsing fish stocks. Bloated fishing fleets, built by generous federal subsidies, are hammering their fish. Yet each fishermen says they have a right to continue. Making a plea for survival, they repeatedly ask for and win permission to keep overfishing to sustain their livelihood.

To me, this is a tragedy in the classic sense. Are our fishing community activists tragic heros in the classic sense?

Call it: "The tragedy of overfishing in New England"

An Aristotelian tragic hero must have four characteristics:

Nobleness or wisdom (by virtue of birth).
(Noble fishing heritage)

Hamartia (translated as tragic flaw, somewhat related to hubris, but denoting excess in behavior or mistakes).
(Support for overfishing)

A reversal of fortune (peripetia) brought about because of the hero's tragic error.
(Collapsed fish stocks)

The discovery or recognition that the reversal was brought about by the hero's own actions (anagnorisis).
(Stay tuned for the last act--wherein fishermen in New England realize the folly of the overfishing entitlement)


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