SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

December 26, 2012

Our view: Fishing tragedy a reminder of dangers of the sea

Fishermen and government officials are now sparring over dire 2013 fishing catch limits that threaten the very future of the industry.

And viewers across the country can get their “reality” TV tastes of the fishing world through shows like “Deadliest Catch” and National Geographic’s “Wicked Tuna,” filmed out of Gloucester.

But fishing’s harshest reality once again hit home in Gloucester, America’s oldest seaport, and in Deer Isle, Maine, with the U.S. Coast Guard’s grim but understandable decision a week ago to end the search for the scalloping boat Foxy Lady II.

It had been missing since Dec. 15.

Calling off the search means that 25-year-old captain Wallace “Chubby” Gray Jr. and his 50-year-old crewmate Wayne Young, both of Deer Isle, but both of whom fished out of Gloucester, are presumed lost at sea.

Two more names will be added to the roll of the more than 5,000 Gloucester fishermen lost at sea and memorialized on the plaques that surround Gloucester’s iconic “Man at the Wheel.”

The statue is inscribed with a phrase from Psalm 107, “They that go down to the sea in ships.”

The Psalm continues:

“These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.

“For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.

“They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.”

It’s easy to get caught up in all of the talk about commercial fishing these days, from the fierce debate and fight for the industry’s survival in the face of a declared economic disaster, to the TV exploits of the “Wicked Tuna” crews. But none of us should ever forget that, statistically, commercial fishing remains America’s most dangerous industry. And the losses of Gray and Young provide an all-too-real context to those figures as the seventh and eighth men to lose their lives fishing out of Gloucester since January 2009.

Death at sea is in the minds of fishermen and fishing families at every turn, and our hearts go out to the families and many friends of these two men in the wake of this latest fishing tragedy.

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