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Against the Tide: The Fate of the New England Fisherman Paperback – June 15, 2000

4.1 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Like many kids fortunate enough to spend summers by the shore, writer/journalist Richard Adams Carey grew up with a healthy respect for fishermen and the sea, "a world of astonishing color and shape and texture, of surprise and a perceptible knife-edge of menace." During the '90s, when headlines described the demise of New England's small-boat family fishermen, he decided to head back to Cape Cod to learn what he could about a threatened way of life and the forces--political, commercial, ecological--which imperil the survival of the fish the industry depends on. To this end, he spent a year working alongside four veterans of the Cape's inshore waters: a crewmate on a dragger (a boat that catches groundfish with a dragnet towed along the ocean bottom); a lobsterman; a long-liner (who sets quarter-mile or longer fishing lines sporting baited hooks every three feet); and a quahog dredger (essentially a clammer who harvests in bulk). Carey deftly weaves the details of their hard-won, unpredictable lives with passages on local and global fishing history, the minutiae of national and regional legislation severely regulating the fishing industry, the vicissitudes of the weather, and a smattering of stories and anecdotes. Throughout colonial times, for instance, fishermen regularly caught lobsters 4 feet long and weighing 45 pounds! Such an ancient, sizable creature is nearly inconceivable today.

Despite the tenacity of the men he fished with, Carey acknowledges that the owner-operators of small family boats off New England are likely going the way of the family farmer. Yet he reminds us that the issues deciding their fate concern us all: "how to tap this continent's wealth without plundering and despoiling it; how to reconcile our hard-wired demand for growth and consumption with a husbandman's concern for sustainability; how to mark our limits and resolutely stay within them." --Svenja Soldovieri --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Slice it this way, slice it that, theres no escaping the drastic changes in store for the New England fishermen, reports Carey (Raven's Children: An Alaskan Culture at Twilight, 1992) in this nonetheless undespairing book. Its just that the village may have to be burned in order to save it. For Carey, the foreclosure of yet another small fishing boat meant not just the crumbling of an ancient way of life. It was the loss of yet more carriers of fundamental knowledge, like small farmers, people deeply engaged in their place of work and understanding of the notion of limits. To get a better grasp of the situation, he went on an endangered-species watch with a lobsterman, a dragger, a quahog dredger, and a long-liner, all out of Cape Cod, all owner-operators who worked inshore waters. This was during 199596, when an amendment to stop all groundfishing was soon to be voted upon, and a sense of doom filled the cape air. Carey is a good storyteller, braiding the tales of the fishermen's days, calling up nuggets of local history to give a sense of timelessness to their activity, introducing and making intelligible the byzantine world of fishery politics. The men portrayed here are crafty professionals and worthy souls, though Carey appreciates the fact that there is a reason why fishermen, even small-scale ones, are suspects in their own demise. He details how many of these herdsmen, big and small, trampled the commons. Arching over it all is the imperative of profits, which works against stewardship and foresight; ``entry into the fishery has become a commodity, available only to those who can meet its price,'' outsiders and fat cats who frequently have no stake in the long-term health of the fishery. Carey conveys ``a Puritan's prickle of outraged righteousness'' at the treatment of the humble New England fisherman. Yet one of them recently caught a golden haddock, a sign of good times to come. Hope springs eternal. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (June 15, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 061805698X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618056989
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #804,408 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Being a New England fisherman (hehe-rather, woman) I found the day-to-day lives of the fisherman very interesting-who knew scallops had blue eyes? However, I had a difficult time following the time frame of events because of the way Mr. Carey jumped around. I couldn't even tell exactly what year this book was taking place without some re-reading. The politics involved are sickening in the amount of time wasted and the fact that the committees could get nothing accomplished, evidenced with the ongoing cod crisis in New England today. Too bad none of the politicians involved happened to read this book.
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Format: Hardcover
If you read The Perfect Storm and came away wanting to know more about the commercial fishing industry, this is the book. Carey explains the views of the men and women who risk life, limb, and fortune in the waters off Cape Cod. He also explains the tedium of public hearings and governmental rule making which impact the lives of the fishermen.
I spent the summer in a rented house overlooking the commercial fishing fleet in Bodega Bay, California. I often wondered what happened on those boats once they left the harbor, and what regulations governed them. Against the Tide explains it all.
By way of criticism, I found the characters a bit hard to follow and the discussions of the regulations a bit tedious, but overall I learned a lot.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was looking for East Coast Commercial fisherman and this was the closest I could find. It does detail what a terribly rough and unthankful job it is, and the end result was almost the same. If you are from the NE area of the US, it is spot on. Good book.
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Format: Hardcover
Richard Adams Carey has crafted a detailed look at a failing industry and a very well written narrative. One can only hope that present and future fishermen and politicians, American and Internationally, read Mr. Carey's book and learn from the mistakes of the past. The book brings you into the daily lives of New England fishermen in an honest, pragmatic way that doesn't decry the sins of history but certainly lays them bare for all of us to learn from. The author has carefully crafted and documented his first hand accounts, and recreates other aspects in a highly readable and informative style. If you're sick of Wall Street success stories, here's an in depth look at the lives of many equally important but far less appreciated Americans.
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Format: Hardcover
I've been involved with the local fisheries all my life, and this author has been the closest (so far), to the reality on the "on goings" of the lives effected by the sea. Ranging from the challanges at sea, to the dealings with "managment". I suggest this book to anyone who wants an close insight of this type of livelyhood. Especially any student entering the fisheries profession!! ENJOY!!
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