Irene Nolan, owner and editor of The Island Free Press, I’m a
relative newcomer to the rules of Internet technology, but last week I
learned how to post articles on a new Web site called Ahab’s
Ahab’s Journal is a Web site providing news and commentary on
issues of importance to the Outer Banks commercial fishing community.
The site is the brainchild of Sandy Semans, editor of The Outer Banks
Sentinel, and was designed by Peter Hummers, production manager at the
The idea of building a commercial fishing industry Web site had
simmered in Semans’ mind for several months, as she answered
telephone and e-mail requests from fishermen as far away as Alaska who
contacted the newspaper for information on what is happening to the
Outer Banks industry.
The typical request went something like, “I hate to bother you,
but a few months ago a buddy told me he thought your newspaper ran a
story about a strange jellyfish showing up in North Carolina
waters. I think we have that same jellyfish down here in
Galveston. Could you send me that story?”
Semans is also very aware that local watermen are keenly interested in
how fishermen in other regions are meeting the challenges common to all
U.S. fishermen today – such as marketplace competition from
cheaper imported seafood, high fuel and other operating costs, new
fishing techniques to protect marine mammals and turtles, declining
water quality, new market-based management systems intended to
rationalize the industry, and shrinking working space on the waterfront.
In my research, I often run across stories from other parts of the U.S.
that I want to share with fishermen on the Outer Banks. Some
offer innovative solutions, some uncover new challenges, and some
simply offer solace that no fisherman faces the uncharted future alone.
Ahab’s Journal is the place where I can make those stories easily accessible to North Carolina fishermen.
In addition to stories about regulations, legislation, and our changing
coast, Ahab’s Journal includes links to stories about seafood
and, especially, seafood safety.
Not all the posts deal with such serious issues though.
Right now there’s a link to a video of Massachusetts fishermen
talking about the superstitions unique to their trade.
The interactive nature of Ahab’s Journal is exciting. Below
each post, readers can click on “comment” to share opinions
and ideas. You don’t have to be a commercial fisherman to
post comments – people outside the industry often bring original
perspectives to the issues.
Some people adore the name of the Web site, and others bemoan that it
is named for Captain Ahab, the captain obsessed with capturing the
great white whale Moby Dick in Herman Melville’s novel.
But, most fishermen remember working for a captain nearly as demonic as Ahab at some time during their career.
And, most will confess that they’ve had at least one day on the
water when they began to feel a little like Ahab themselves.
To visit Ahab’s Journal, go to http://ahabsjournal.typepad.com.
(Susan West lives in Buxton. The wife of a commercial fisherman,
she has been writing about fishing for a living for local newspaper for
more than 15 years.)