The End of the Line

What would the world be like if there were no more fish? It’s a possibility based on current fishing practices laid out in the excellent, if devastating book The End of the Line: How Overfishing is Changing the World and What We Eat by British journalist Charles Clover (University of California Press, 2008). The book is the foundation of an utterly depressing documentary The End of the Line that debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009.

This book is one of the few that I would refer to as a “must-read.” Clover makes a compelling case on the impact of the voracious nature of “mining” the ocean’s fish. Consider this passage: “Imagine what people would say if a band of hunters strung a mile of net between two immense all-terrain vehicles and dragged it at speed across the plains of Africa…. left behind is a strangely bedraggled landscape resembling a harrowed field… this efficient but highly unselective way of killing animals is known as trawling… it is practiced the world over every day, from the Barents Sea in the Arctic to the shores of Antarctica and from the tropical waters of the Indian Ocean and the central Pacific to the temperate waters off Cape Cod.”

Why It’s Important: A major takeaway is that, like anything in a capitalist society, consumer demand drives action. So if consumers change their habits to avoid overfished species, it can make a major difference. This book completely changed my buying decisions when it comes to fish. I now shop for seafood aided by the Seafood Watch recommendations by the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

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Filed under 25 Food Book 2010, food history, food news, food politics, food trends, food writing, sustainable food

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