Harvesting the Bay: Fathers, Sons and the Last of the Wild Shellfishermen

Harvesting the Bay: Fathers, Sons and the Last of the Wild Shellfishermen

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by Ray Huling
     
 

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“If we mean to change our ways, how will we do it? How will we make our food and our system of food production healthy, sustainable, and secure? How will we make them, in a word, sane? Who will do this work?”
 Ray Huling knows the hard realities of shellfishing. His father and grandfathers were shellfishermen on Rhode Island’s Narragansett…  See more details below

Overview

“If we mean to change our ways, how will we do it? How will we make our food and our system of food production healthy, sustainable, and secure? How will we make them, in a word, sane? Who will do this work?”
 Ray Huling knows the hard realities of shellfishing. His father and grandfathers were shellfishermen on Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay, laborers in an age-old trade. Because he grew up surrounded by quahaugers, the industry is in his blood and the drive to keep it sustainable is what makes up his family history. In Harvesting the Bay, Huling answers these pressing questions and delivers a moving portrait of the men and women who work the waters of the Atlantic Coast in the harsh environment of the shellfishing industry. Huling argues that any successful sustainable food enterprise will likely resemble shellfishing in Rhode Island, an industry that has existed sustainably for over 150 years, with its complex system of governance, its fierce and obsessive workforce, and its conflicts within communities and between generations. This thought-provoking book sets the complexities of sustainable food production against a heartwarming story of one family’s enduring years of work on the seas.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
In an in-depth study of the Rhode Island shellfishing community where he was raised, a journalist celebrates the lives of his father and grandfather and probes the nature of sustainability. Huling describes the physically demanding life of these fishermen who haul the hard-shell clams, known as quahogs, from the depths of Narragansett Bay by using long-handled tools called bullrakes. In the author's opinion, the sustainable lifestyle of the bullraker represents a model for a radical shift that must take place in how our society values hard physical labor. He is not offering practical proposals for returning production to the methods of hundreds of years ago, nor did he choose to emulate his father, who ended his life in a wheelchair. However, he writes, it "is a happy thing for a son to hear stories of his father's physical prowess." The author provides many colorful stories about the fishermen and the turf battles between men who dive from boats and bullrakers who fish from their skiffs. He chronicles the history of the quahog, including its name and the difference in its pronunciation in Rhode Island versus Cape Cod, but he mainly focuses on the many competing priorities involved in sound ecosystem management. These include enclosing sections of the bay contaminated by sewage runoff (though there is still the possibility of depuration of quahogs taken from polluted waters), regulating how the fish are harvested by licensing (prohibition of dredging, limitations on the daily catch), and dealing with the competitive threat of large-scale aquaculture. A thoughtful examination of the implications of sustainability.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780762787098
Publisher:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
07/03/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
288
File size:
2 MB

Read an Excerpt

Dad hung a picture on the parlor wall, and everyone mistook it for a photograph of a planet. “What’s that, Neptune?” asked a good friend. This pleased me because of Neptune’s association with the sea. What people mistook for a planet was actually my father’s eye. During surgery to repair his detached and torn retinas, his surgeons photographed his eyes from within their sockets. This operation ended his career as a full-time fisherman. His doctors said that the stress of his labor-intensive profession—the pounding of the waves, the strain of hauling in the catch—had damaged his congenitally weak retinas. To continue as a full-timer would likely blind him. My mother said he wept at these words. In all my life, I’d never heard of such a thing as my father crying. He was a man who didn’t cry. But this news collapsed one of the great arcs of his life: He had started as a fisherman at the age of ten. —From the Introduction

Meet the Author

Ray Huling, a twelfth-generation Rhode Islander, comes from a long line of quahaugers. Drawing on his own history with shellfishing, he has written extensively about marine affairs for the town of East Greenwich, Rhode Island. Huling earned a graduate degree from New York University’s School of Journalism and was a Fellow in the Reynolds Program in Social Entrepreneurship. .

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