Friday, April 10, 2009

Mody Dick read aloud

Not everyone in New Bedford, Massachusetts was busy debating fishing rules this month. Some of them were reveling in the legacy of New Bedford's last great resource hunt, whaling.

It was the annual Moby Dick marathon at the whaling museum, where 170 people read aloud the entire text of Moby Dick. No, I'm not kidding, the read the whole thing out loud, it took just over 24 hours. This year marked the 13th undertaking of the leviathan task. Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank read chapter 3, nice going Mr. Frank.

The rise and fall of whaling was New Bedford's last big boom and bust, and fishing has done some of that. But unlike whaling, fishing should last forever if done right.

There's more than a little bit of Melville in the current New England groundfish debacle, but it's more Bartleby than Moby Dick. Like Bartleby, when directed to end overfishing to save themselves, New England's cod fishermen respond with the enduring "I would prefer not to." Sadly, unless they come around, New England's fishermen will suffer Bartleby's ultimate fate.

And Barney Frank seems determined to help the fishermen avoid saving themselves, carrying their self-defeating messages for them in the halls of Congress.


David J. Hirsh said...

(...New England fisherman seek to doom themselves) and apparently Jane Lubchencko, PhD and new sciency NMFS administrator is dancing to their same organ grinder. Ignoring NMFS staff recommendations of 20% reduction in the fishery, Lubchencko countered the council's proferred 7% proposal with a proposed reduction of 8%. Oooohhh, scary new sciency NMFS administrator. Hopefully not a harbinger of how we expect the new adminstration will approach the rest of NMFS programs.



Eric Heupel said...

I fear that nothing will ever change the New England cod fisherman in their Quixote quest to catch the last individual of every species possible.