Excerpt from The End of the Line by Charles Clover, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The End of the Line

How Overfishing Is Changing the World and What We Eat

By Charles Clover

The End of the Line
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Nov 2006,
    384 pages.
    Paperback: Mar 2008,
    396 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


1
Nailing The Lie

Gloucester, Massachusetts, likes to describe itself as America’s greatest fishing port. Its claim is inscribed on the most poignant edifice in Gloucester, the fisherman’s memorial on the seawall at Cape Ann. A bronze statue of a bearded fisherman in a sou’wester and oilskins, gripping a ship’s wheel, stares out over the harbor and the clapboard houses toward the sea. Though you will find that a greater tonnage of fish is landed today in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, and that Gloucester’s old rival, New Bedford, Massachusetts, tops the list of U.S. ports for value because of its shellfish landings, it seems rude to quibble with Gloucester’s estimation of its own preeminence, for in terms of human endeavor and suffering America’s oldest fishing port has history on its side. The fisherman’s memorial, installed in 2002, commemorates 5,300 men from the town who died at sea in the pursuit of fish.

The core of the inscription reads: “These courageous men have been known by names other than fishermen. They were father, husband, brother, son. They were known as the finest kind. Their lives and their loss have touched our community in profound ways. We remain strengthened by their character, in- spired by their courage and proud to call them Gloucestermen.” The story told in Gloucester has an awesome dignity that arises out of mass human suffering—so many untimely deaths spread among the population of one not so very large community. The toll has its equal only in the memorials to the dead of the Civil War and the First and Second World Wars.

The roll call of the drowned over nearly four centuries is cast in raised lettering on bronze panels arranged in a semicircle on the seaward side of the statue. It begins with the Englishmen who came in 1625 to handline and trap for cod on the submerged banks that run from here to Newfoundland. Over the next two centuries, English surnames are joined by ones from Scandinavia and Ireland, often via the Canadian maritimes. In the past two hundred years, many if not most of the fishermen have been of Sicilian and Portuguese extraction. You will still find boats in Gloucester whose crews speak Italian and have their satellite TV set to Italian stations. I met a man of Italian descent in Gloucester who said his family had been fishing in Gloucester for eight generations. In New Bedford, the capital of whaling in the nineteenth century and now of the sea scallop fishery, the fishermen are of mainly Portuguese descent.

You can deduce many things from the number of names inscribed on the Gloucester fisherman’s memorial. In 2001, the most recent year recorded on the bronze panels, two fishermen, Thomas Frontiero and James Sanfilippo, died at sea. In 1927, the most terrible year in the past century for the fishermen of Gloucester, the sea took forty-one. You would rightly conclude that fishing is one of the more dangerous occupations in the world. You might also conclude that either it has gotten a lot safer or there are fewer fishermen going to sea. Both happen to be the case.

You might be tempted to ask why the number of fishermen has dropped, why the fish dock is half empty, and why many of the buildings around it have an air of dereliction that contrasts with the prosperous-looking tourist buildings and marinas of this attractive seaside town. The reason the dock is underused is because there are fewer boats and many times fewer fish landed in Gloucester than once was the case. The story of the overexploitation of New England’s fisheries is one you will find the city of Gloucester still reluctant to tell in any of its public pronouncements, for it is the counterpoint to Gloucester’s heroic figure of hardiness and heroism. It throws a rather different light on the bronze fisherman facing out to sea.

© 2006 by Charles Clover. This piece originally appears in Charles Clover’s The End of the Line: How Overfishing Is Changing the World and What We Eat (The New Press, November 13, 2006). Published with the permission of The New Press and available at good book stores everywhere.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Promise
    The Promise
    by Ann Weisgarber
    Canadian author, Lucy Maud Montgomery of Anne of Green Gables fame, once wrote that "...all things ...
  • Book Jacket: Black Moon
    Black Moon
    by Kenneth Calhoun
    The popularity of book-turned-movie World War Z and television series The Walking Dead points to a ...
  • Book Jacket: Hyde
    Hyde
    by Daniel Levine
    In Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the story ends ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

Win this book!
Win The Steady Running of the Hour

The Steady Running of the Hour

"Exciting, emotionally engaging and ambitious. I loved it!" - Kate Mosse

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I T T O A Eye

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.