We were on a 1960 family vacation at Montauk. One early- early morning my brother
Frank and I were fishing in a tiny pond by the side of the road. Frank had just caught a 13”
grass pickerel. A car pulled up and two guys in tan uniforms jumped out to see the fish.
When Frank released it they congratulated him and took off. Later we discovered that these
guys were the legendary Captain Frank Mundis and his mate!
There is a certain kind of person who is born a fisherman through and through, Frank Mundis
(my childhood hero, and partly the source of Captain Quint in Jaws) was that kind of guy. I was
that strange kid who returned deposit bottles to scrimp up thirty- five cents for a half- dozen
sandworms to dunk them interminably off the town dock for the chance at a flounder or
There are so many stories! Once when a hurricane arrived I was nine years old, drowning
worms off the Beachway dock in my childhood home town Port Washington N.Y. The tidal
surge and crashing waves were sending volumes of spray through the slots in the decking of
the dock. A grown-up saw me out there and came valiantly to the rescue, but I knew the tide
had peaked, and I persuaded him that I was safe. The day before the hurricane hit had been
one of my best flounder days ever and I wanted to stay.
There are so many reasons to love the ocean. You can swim, body surf, clam, dig worms,
catch fiddler crabs, wade, snorkel, dive, sail, fish- fish- fish, and breathe deep that fresh, life-
loaded salt air- how could you ask for more! But in fact, in addition to all these gifts, there is
the allure of endless mystery, the vast rolling scape of the oceans that can never
become tame, never become a known quantity. No one can claim to truly know her.
And no one can claim to own her!
Our generation has taken too much from our greatest resource. The great Bluefin populations
shrink as we pursue them to the ends of the earth, catching them at every stage of their migration;
will they suddenly disappear like the passenger pigeon? My world will become vastly diminished if
It is up to us to prevent our ocean from becoming a lifeless, oily soup- how can we intercede and do
what needs to be done? There are the famous “Three Rs”: reduce, reuse, and recycle. I think we
need a fourth R. We must Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and REFRAIN! Do we really need all that
we demand from the sea? If we could simply harvest more wisely, I believe that we could
change the world. Fishing in a sustainable manner comes under the fourth R. When a specie sends a
clear message of dire stress, reason and commitment to our own future dictate that we
show wisdom, and that we refrain from causing what could be a final decline in its