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Gourmands and health-conscious consumers alike have fallen for fish; last year per capita consumption in the United States hit an all-time high. Packed with nutrients and naturally low in fat, fish is the last animal we can still eat in good conscience. Or can we? In this vivid, eye-opening book—first published in the UK to wide acclaim and now extensively revised for an Am Gourmands and health-conscious consumers alike have fallen for fish; last year per capita consumption in the United States hit an all-time high. Packed with nutrients and naturally low in fat, fish is the last animal we can still eat in good conscience. Or can we? In this vivid, eye-opening book—first published in the UK to wide acclaim and now extensively revised for an American audience—environmental journalist Charles Clover argues that our passion for fish is unsustainable. Seventy-five percent of the world’s fish stocks are now fully exploited or overfished; the most popular varieties risk extinction within the next few decades. Clover trawls the globe for answers, from Tokyo’s sumptuous fish market to the heart of New England’s fishing industry. He joins hardy sailors on high-tech boats, interviews top chefs whose menu selections can influence the fate of entire species, and examines the ineffective organizations charged with regulating the world’s fisheries. Along the way he argues that governments as well as consumers can take steps to reverse this disturbing trend before it’s too late. The price of a mouthwatering fillet of Chilean sea bass may seem outrageous, but The End of the Line shows its real cost to the ecosystem is far greater.


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Gourmands and health-conscious consumers alike have fallen for fish; last year per capita consumption in the United States hit an all-time high. Packed with nutrients and naturally low in fat, fish is the last animal we can still eat in good conscience. Or can we? In this vivid, eye-opening book—first published in the UK to wide acclaim and now extensively revised for an Am Gourmands and health-conscious consumers alike have fallen for fish; last year per capita consumption in the United States hit an all-time high. Packed with nutrients and naturally low in fat, fish is the last animal we can still eat in good conscience. Or can we? In this vivid, eye-opening book—first published in the UK to wide acclaim and now extensively revised for an American audience—environmental journalist Charles Clover argues that our passion for fish is unsustainable. Seventy-five percent of the world’s fish stocks are now fully exploited or overfished; the most popular varieties risk extinction within the next few decades. Clover trawls the globe for answers, from Tokyo’s sumptuous fish market to the heart of New England’s fishing industry. He joins hardy sailors on high-tech boats, interviews top chefs whose menu selections can influence the fate of entire species, and examines the ineffective organizations charged with regulating the world’s fisheries. Along the way he argues that governments as well as consumers can take steps to reverse this disturbing trend before it’s too late. The price of a mouthwatering fillet of Chilean sea bass may seem outrageous, but The End of the Line shows its real cost to the ecosystem is far greater.

30 review for The End of the Line: How Overfishing Is Changing the World and What We Eat

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kerri Anne

    This book doesn't mince words, so I won't mince mine for this review. Fact(s): There are too many humans on this earth for any of us to pretend like we can eat what we want, when we want, and otherwise behave as if we aren't one of BILLIONS of humans currently occupying (I wanted to write "infesting") the earth. Our populations are not shrinking, but the earth's resources most certainly are. The problem (as I + this book + many books perpetually see it): Capitalism (see also: the monopolistic gr This book doesn't mince words, so I won't mince mine for this review. Fact(s): There are too many humans on this earth for any of us to pretend like we can eat what we want, when we want, and otherwise behave as if we aren't one of BILLIONS of humans currently occupying (I wanted to write "infesting") the earth. Our populations are not shrinking, but the earth's resources most certainly are. The problem (as I + this book + many books perpetually see it): Capitalism (see also: the monopolistic greed running this country since Day 1), "YOLO" mentality, and the idea of Western progress/"freedom" to do whatever we want, whenever we want—Eat as much fish! Fly to as many places as we want to visit throughout our lifetime! Use single-use plastic because it's too hard not to!— ALL of it is diametrically opposed to true conservation ethics and the climate + overpopulation crisis currently facing our planet. What I appreciate most about this book: its honesty. Cloves comes straight out of the gate swinging, and when it comes to issues of life-altering importance, I'm perpetually here for it. From the introduction: "Unfortunately, our love affair with fish is unsustainable." And on the next page: "The perception-changing moment for the oceans has arrived. It comes from the realisation that in a single human lifetime we have inflicted a crisis on the oceans greater than any yet caused by pollution." Every chapter is so dense with data, case studies, and marine history, that I could hardly read a page without swimming off to write a five-paragraph essay; I left myself endless notes in the margins. The crux of this book: We excel at taking more than we give. At not knowing how to live and let live. Our oceans are legitimately dying because we, as a global population of humans, have, and continue to, overfish the ever-loving cod out of them. The way we treat our oceans, like the way we treat nearly everything on this planet (i.e. as if this earth can replenish itself like magic as billions of humans take and take and take) is embarrassing. Or it should and would be, were enough of us paying attention. This book isn't any more uplifting than this review, but that isn't this book's job. (Nor is it mine.) This book's job is to tell the truth, the whole truth, and now more than ever we need books (and humans) that care more about being honest then they do about making money-serving corporate interests, selfish humans, and unsustainable industries feel better about themselves. Books like these are so important (as I believe honest words about anything and everything are, too), and I'm grateful for finding it, just as I'm grateful for finding my voice on conservation issues that keep me up at night. The bottom line: We might not be able to fix what's been broken since before I was born, but we, and every elected and/or appointed official throughout the world, should be exhausting every effort to at least try. [Five stars for the stark, well-written reminder we're all in this together, and that without healthy oceans, there can be no healthy earth.]

  2. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    Resources exist to be consumed. And consumed they will be, if not by this generation then by some future. By what right does this forgotten future seek to deny us our birthright? None I say! Let us take what is ours, chew and eat our fill. -CEO Nwabudike Morgan, The Ethics of GreedWhen talking about global warming, one of the things I tell people is that if they really want a sense of paralyzing despair to overcome them, all they need to do is look at what humanity is doing to the oceans. And whi Resources exist to be consumed. And consumed they will be, if not by this generation then by some future. By what right does this forgotten future seek to deny us our birthright? None I say! Let us take what is ours, chew and eat our fill. -CEO Nwabudike Morgan, The Ethics of GreedWhen talking about global warming, one of the things I tell people is that if they really want a sense of paralyzing despair to overcome them, all they need to do is look at what humanity is doing to the oceans. And while I'm usually talking about ocean acidification and pollution, overfishing is just as applicable. Clover's book is quite strident, but it has a right to be. The population of fish has dropped in many places by around 95%. There are entire populations of fish where more than 50% of the catch is taken illegally. Huge parts of the ocean are essentially in a total free-for-all, much the same as assault on the bison in the 19th century American west and with much the same end effect. Spanish fleets under foreign flags travel to Senegal to meet the demand for fish in Spain, and while regulation is patchwork in national waters, in international waters literally anything goes. While some consumers are very concerned about where their food comes from and how it was raised, most people don't even care anything about their fish except that it tastes good. And worst of all, the ocean itself is inscrutable enough that we barely even know how many fish there are, much less how many we can safely take. The End of the Line is most devoted to detailing the problems, which it does extensively. The book lays most of the problem on fishermen and on politicians' unwillingness to go against them even though they form a tiny constituency. Most people's image of fishermen is that of heroic men in oilskins, wresting their livelihood from the bosom of Mother Ocean, but nowadays it's much more likely to be teams in large boats, tracking fish with radar and vacuuming them up with enormous nets or strip-mining the ocean floor. In some cases, bycatch--catching fish other than what the fishermen are looking for--is up to 50% of the total catch. One of the major problems is that fishing is usually regulated by time--i.e., fishermen can spend a certain amount of time at sea, which encourages them to catch the largest amount possible in that time to make the most money. One of the few places The End of the Line points out as well-managed is Iceland, which sells off the fish quota as property rights. Each fisherman can catch a certain number of fish per year and can sell or transfer their quota if they like. It works in Iceland, and Clover seems to suggest that this is the way forward for fisheries management elsewhere, though he devotes only a couple pages to the possibility of consolidation and monopoly. I'm afraid I can't see a widescale implementation of this as anything other than selling off the seas to multinational corporations absent any kind of effective international enforcement, and Clover spends a lot of time explaining how there's barely any effective domestic enforcement when it comes to fisheries, much less international. He does have a point when he mentions that it's impossible to maximize the social, ecological, and economic aspects of fishing all at the same time and something will have to give. A lot of the other reviews describe the book as dry, which seems nearly incomprehensible to me. I found it to be a compelling read, but this is a subject I have a lot of interest in, which might make the difference. It's true that there's little "human element," and Clover blithely brushes off the health of fishing-dependent coast communities and the livelihoods of the people there. His position is basically that either they can survive or the sea can and if the fish die they'll lose their jobs anyway, which is true but not very sympathy-inducing. Farmed fish can help, but they're not even a bandaid, much less a panacea. Clover brings up that farmed fish are much less competitive than wild fish, and interbreeding between them and wild fish makes the wild fish less likely to survive. Even if there was a foolproof way to prevent domesticated fish from escaping--which there is not--farmed carnivorous fish still require overfishing to sustain, because they're fed fish meal made from wild fish and it would be more ecological just to eat the fish the meal comes from directly and cut out the middlefish. It's not totally bleak. Other than the example of Iceland's better management, the book also points to fishing reserves in New Zealand, where fish swarm in numbers not seen in decades and which are economic boons as well, since they've become major tourist locations and fishermen nearby (who are allowed to fish near, but not on, the reserve) report higher catches that they've seen in a long time. There's a list of seven ways to solve the catastrophe at the end of the book, which I'll summarize here: --Fish less --Eat less fish overall --Know where your fish comes from --Choose less wasteful methods of fishing --Give property rights to fishermen --Create reserves --Make fisheries responsible managing international waters as well as local ones --Regain control of the sea by the population The last one is a bit vague, and The End of the Line is more doom and gloom than solutions, but I think that speaks more to the scale of the problem, which is literally world-wide in scope. One of The End of the Line's major points is that all of this is happening because the public is mostly unaware of the problem, and there are few better ways to become aware than to read this book. Even if I don't agree with all of his solutions, it's obvious that what we're doing now isn't working and Clover points out some alternate methods that are having some success, so we'd be fools to ignore them. Otherwise, we'll be telling our children about what fish tasted like when we were young and fish wasn't only for the rich. Bon appétit.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly

    You’ll have fish coming out of your ears with this one. The many types of fish, the history and future of fish, catching fish, not catching fish, who catches fish, the regulations and laws of fishing, who eats which fish, who cooks them, endangered fishes, abundant fishes, sad stories about fish, hopeful thought about fish. There’s condemnation here of the culinary world, of celebrity chefs like Nobuyuki Matsuhisa (of the “Nobu” chain of restaurants), Gordon Ramsey, etc. and the celebrities who p You’ll have fish coming out of your ears with this one. The many types of fish, the history and future of fish, catching fish, not catching fish, who catches fish, the regulations and laws of fishing, who eats which fish, who cooks them, endangered fishes, abundant fishes, sad stories about fish, hopeful thought about fish. There’s condemnation here of the culinary world, of celebrity chefs like Nobuyuki Matsuhisa (of the “Nobu” chain of restaurants), Gordon Ramsey, etc. and the celebrities who partake of their exquisite fish dishes for the reason that all they seemingly care for is how they cook the fish they love without paying any attention at all to whether such types of fish are in the endangered list. In contrast, the author has all praises to the McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish sandwich because it uses fish which is still plentiful. So what then to catch and eat and what you shouldn’t? Here is a list of what we should catch or eat less of because they are all overfished already: Atlantic cod, Atlantic haddock, Bluefin tuna, Caviar, European hake, European sea bass, North Atlantic halibut, Patagonian tooth fish (Chilean seabass), Grouper, Snapper, Orange roughy and Scallops. And these are those which you should go easy on because they are near being the overfished list: Plaice and sole, Swordfish, Sharks, Tuna, Prawns/Langoustines, Skates and rays. Lastly, those you can still eat with guilt since they are still plentiful: Horse mackerel, Blue whiting, Sand eel, Herring, Mackerel, Lobster, Pacific halibut, Pollock, Hoki, Pacific salmon, Mussels and last but not the least—Tilapia.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    An incendiary diatribe about the destruction wrought by overfishing, this book is eye-opening. Although Clover’s tone is strident, his research is impeccable; with journalistic detail he repeatedly documents the waste and folly of modern fishing methods. Clover lets no one off the hook: fishermen, politicians, scientists, consumers, all are complicit. If you eat fish, you should read this book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Clover's book is just as relevant today as it was 15 years ago. With 80% of our fish stocks fully exploited, overexploited, or on the brink of collapse, this is essential reading for the average consumer. The very first paragraph brings to attention the difference in value we place on creatures on land versus the sea: 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. This fantastica Clover's book is just as relevant today as it was 15 years ago. With 80% of our fish stocks fully exploited, overexploited, or on the brink of collapse, this is essential reading for the average consumer. The very first paragraph brings to attention the difference in value we place on creatures on land versus the sea: 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. This fantastical assemblage, like something from a Mad Max movie, would scoop up everything in its way: predators, such as lions and cheetahs, lumbering endangered herbivores, such as rhinos and elephants, herds of impala and wildebeest, family groups of warthog and wild dog. A lot of us hold contradictory beliefs when it comes to ethical consumption; most of us would be horrified at the idea of eating a poached endangered mammal, but endangered (and often illegally caught) cod are welcome to the dinner table. This book does a very good job of highlighting how difficult it is to actually get your hands on sustainably caught fish - even coming to the conclusion that you might be more likely to find sustainable fish at McDonalds than at a Michelin star restaurant. Some reviews have noted the writing is dry at times, but I would like to know who can manage to make the Common Fisheries Policy and quotas and stock and all the rest of it sound interesting. If there's one reservation I have about this book it's that I think Clover was too easy on the consumer - yes, changes at the governmental level are imperative to solve this crisis, but we as individuals need to be more critical when it comes to what fish we eat, and a green label doesn't necessarily absolve guilt. The sweeping inclusion of herring and blue whiting as "fish to eat with less conscience" is questionable, considering the sustainability of these fishes depends entirely on which stock they have been sourced from. Seeing as around 30% of our fish is mislabelled - meaning your "sustainably caught" cod could quite easily be endangered Atlantic cod - is there really such thing as conscience-free fish?

  6. 4 out of 5

    John

    I don’t eat fish, I am allergic and I am still very glad I read this book. It transformed the way I think about fishing and the oceans. About a month and a half ago I (accidentally) got tickets to see a deep sea diver present information about the current state of the oceans. She was very damning and bleak and recommended this book as further reading. I am glad I took her up on it. The book starts off bleak and depressing. About 60 pages in I was worried that all it was going to be was a catalog I don’t eat fish, I am allergic and I am still very glad I read this book. It transformed the way I think about fishing and the oceans. About a month and a half ago I (accidentally) got tickets to see a deep sea diver present information about the current state of the oceans. She was very damning and bleak and recommended this book as further reading. I am glad I took her up on it. The book starts off bleak and depressing. About 60 pages in I was worried that all it was going to be was a catalogue of failure after failure of fish stock. But the book does move on to show some successes and possible changes that can be made. There were several points of the book that struck me. First off that everyone “owns” the oceans. Fisherman tend to talk about their ownership of water, but in truth, I own it as much as they do and should have as much of a say in what goes on as I do. Secondly, I was fascinated by the theory that if given no balances or limits, a commercial fishery will go bankrupt. I want to study this idea more. The idea being, as long as are allowed to bring in more and more fish, they will continue to do so, driving the price down so low by over-supplying that they can’t make money. And, since fish are not infinite, the population will collapse and the fishery is left with nothing. Does oil work the same way? Is that why OPEC is actually a good thing to set limits on production??? Also just learning more about how fish are caught was eye-opening. The fact that so many other wildlife are caught in fishing nets is something I never thought about. Oftentimes 50% or more of creatures in a net will be the intended fish species. It would be like dragging nets over large fields of cows, but getting sheep, deer, birds, raccoons, squirrels, bunnies and every other type of animal in the nets as well. Most of these unwanted species are simply thrown overboard and will die. Wasteful. As little as 10% of the biomass of what is caught is ever eaten. Not very efficient. Clover points out there are 3 aspects of fishing, 1. Ecological – how well the fish are doing in the sea. Pretty easy to grasp. 2. Economical – does the fishing industry make money. Also easy to grasp. 3. Social – allowing people to live the “traditional” fisherman life. This is a little more abstract, but comes down to subsidizing people to fish (or not fish) so that they can remain fisherman. In coastal areas these people tend to be loud and vocal and a powerful voting block. Clover then goes on to say that all three of these areas can not be successful. They are ultimately opposed to each other and 1 must be allowed to fail. Since it makes no sense to let the ecological side fail…..or there would be no more fish, it leaves 2 options. Letting the economical side fail does not make much sense either, why have an industry that loses money and encourages poverty? So that leaves the option of changing the social mindset of the fisherman life. Paying people to fish or not fish ultimately is bad for the other two parts of the equation and should be stopped. The author pointed to several wins in the way things are changing that should be emulated. Creating even small “no fish” zones have shown that fish populations soar. Many more, larger areas should be created to act as reserves. Again, we do this on land, why not the sea? Secondly, fisherman need to have a stake in a healthy fish population. That is there needs to be set limits so that fisherman have incentive to make the most of their stake by catching large, mature fish. Thirdly, there needs to be more information about fish that goes with the fish. Where was the fish caught, by what method, by which boat? Only with more information can consumers and restaurant owners make choices. Along with the additional information, more enforcement needs to be made. Right now in many areas of the world as much as 50% of the fish are landed and processed illegally because governments look the other way. This encourages more illegal catches and punishes those doing things the legal way. One odd tidbit I found is that the author says your fish sandwich from McDonald’s is actually more friendly to the eco system than many fancy fish dishes at upscale restaurants. McDonald’s using fish stock that is harvested in a sustaining way, whereas many fish at upscale restaurants are actually on endangered lists themselves or caught with other fish that are endangered. It would be like paying lots of money for a dinner of Bald Eagle, Gorilla or Giant Panda. It is not accepted with land animals and should not be accepted with fish. Another fun fact is that all scrimp have been rinsed with chlorine bleach to clean them. Yum! The book can be a little bit of a wanderer, but it is well worth the read!

  7. 4 out of 5

    d4

    This book contained quite a bit of useful information; however, I'll be on the lookout for another book to recommend because the writing isn't the most spellbinding, to say the least. It took a bit of determination to finish reading it. To summarize, illegal overfishing (and overfishing in general) has depleted fish stocks. The amount of fish has been overestimated in the past due to a mix of ineptitude and falsified records. We're slowly coming to realize that WE'RE FUCKED. Unless something is This book contained quite a bit of useful information; however, I'll be on the lookout for another book to recommend because the writing isn't the most spellbinding, to say the least. It took a bit of determination to finish reading it. To summarize, illegal overfishing (and overfishing in general) has depleted fish stocks. The amount of fish has been overestimated in the past due to a mix of ineptitude and falsified records. We're slowly coming to realize that WE'RE FUCKED. Unless something is done quickly, and we stop allowing a minority of people (fishermen) to deplete a resource that should belong to all of us and future generations. What can you do as a consumer? Stop eating so much goddamned fish. Hold restaurants accountable for the source of their fish when you do partake. Avoid endangered fish*--reference seafood guides, etc. The truth is that most restaurants WON'T know where the fish they serve comes from, because we don't prioritize ethics and demand sustainability when it comes to the food on our plate. It's a complicated matter to navigate through all the bullshit and try to eat sustainable fish. People who pin the future of fishing on aquaculture (fish farming) ignore the unsustainable nature of feeding captive fish wild caught fish, as well as the dangers inherent in such a system (sea lice, disease, interference with wild breeding). It seems that one of the few hopes for our oceans is to set up no-fishing reserves. (And yes, the author does eat fish; in fact, he fishes for sport. Even some fishermen see the need to regulate this industry and that current regulations are mostly an unenforced joke.) My boyfriend is reading a poem aloud to annoy me while I try to write this so yeah, that's the gist of it--read the book yourself for more thorough information. *The author specifically says avoid the following: Atlantic cod, Atlantic haddock, Atlantic halibut, Bluefin tuna, Caviar, Chilean sea bass, Grouper, Orange roughy, sharks, skates, and rays, Snapper, and swordfish. "Fish to be wary about" include shrimp and tuna, both of which cause a huge bycatch issue, despite "dolphin-friendly" marked cans. He stresses that his list is not definitive and you should reference other guides, such as FishBase and the IUCN Red List, both of which are listed below. (Because I'm returning my copy of this book to the library tomorrow) WEB SITES listed in the book: Blue Ocean Institute, Seafood Guide http://www.blueoceaninstitute.org FishBase lists 28,500 species of fish, with information about everything from their rarity and ability to withstand fishing pressure, to how they reproduce. http://www.fishbase.org Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations http://www.fao.org Marine Conservation Society (UK), Good Fish Guide http://www.fishonline.org Monterey Bay Aquarium, Seafood Watch guide http://www.mbayaq.org National Audubon Society, Seafood Wallet cards http://www.audubon.org Red List of threatened species produced by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources http://www.redlist.org Rogues' gallery of IUU fishermen http://www.colto.org Stock assessments in the North Atlantic compiled by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea http://www.ices.dk

  8. 4 out of 5

    Doug

    Drier than an overcooked tuna steak. While the statistics regarding overfishing are compelling and a little scary, the author relies too heavily on numbers generated by environmental defense organizations and gets very little information from fisherman (commercial and recreational) and fishing organizations; when he does it is poo-pooed and brushed aside. The book could have been so much better. While not a technical treatise on fisheries, it is too reliant on data and not enough on the human el Drier than an overcooked tuna steak. While the statistics regarding overfishing are compelling and a little scary, the author relies too heavily on numbers generated by environmental defense organizations and gets very little information from fisherman (commercial and recreational) and fishing organizations; when he does it is poo-pooed and brushed aside. The book could have been so much better. While not a technical treatise on fisheries, it is too reliant on data and not enough on the human element, the stories and potential for calamity. In addition, there is way too much hyperbole here...phrases such as "abomination" and "senseless slaughter" (and the like) find their way too often into the author's lexicon. A much better book, deeper in science and history but entirely more enjoyable, is "The Unnatural History of the Sea" by Callum.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Phillip

    Surprising how little has really changed since publication in 2006. Well balanced discussion of fisheries issues and sustainability cunundrums. MSC certification has proven to be problematic and not the panacea predicted, but customer awareness and traceability have improved considerably. Wish it didn't seem so topical. Hope that is because what was radical in 2006 is conventional wisdom in 2014. Surprising how little has really changed since publication in 2006. Well balanced discussion of fisheries issues and sustainability cunundrums. MSC certification has proven to be problematic and not the panacea predicted, but customer awareness and traceability have improved considerably. Wish it didn't seem so topical. Hope that is because what was radical in 2006 is conventional wisdom in 2014.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

    An essential book for anyone who is serious.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Richard Reese

    Charles Clover’s book, The End of the Line, is a heartbreaking story about the seafood industry’s War on Fish. The poor fish don’t have much of a chance anymore, because there’s nowhere to hide from the latest technology. The eventual outcome of this systematic massacre is already obvious — both sides are going to lose. When the nets finally come up empty, the unemployed fishers will shape-shift into burger flippers, security guards, and homeless panhandlers. But until that final day, they’ll ke Charles Clover’s book, The End of the Line, is a heartbreaking story about the seafood industry’s War on Fish. The poor fish don’t have much of a chance anymore, because there’s nowhere to hide from the latest technology. The eventual outcome of this systematic massacre is already obvious — both sides are going to lose. When the nets finally come up empty, the unemployed fishers will shape-shift into burger flippers, security guards, and homeless panhandlers. But until that final day, they’ll keep expanding the fleet, and fishing like there’s no tomorrow. Back in the good old days of the Stone Age, there were vast numbers of fish, and a few scattered clans of low-tech subsistence fishers. Most people in prehistoric Europe lived near the water, because that’s where the food was. In the days before trawlers, the oyster population was astonishing. Many were the size of dinner plates, and some oyster reefs were so big that they hindered navigation. The Thames and Rhine rivers had huge salmon runs. There were massive sturgeons in the Rhine delta. It was an era of glorious abundance. With the passage of centuries, tribal subsistence fishing eventually mutated into a business, and sustainability drifted away into the mists of the past. Commercial fishers had an entirely different mindset, one with vivid fantasies of wealth and power. Some refer to it as get-rich-quick fever, a painful incurable spiritual disease. Using the technology of the day, they caught as many fish as possible, and converted them into money. No matter how much they made, their burning hunger for treasure could never be satisfied. Over time, new technology enabled fishers to increase their landings. By 1848, the “inexhaustible” halibut fishery on Georges Bank crashed, after a mere decade of overfishing. It was once common to catch halibut as big as a man, but these fish are rarely seen at markets today. The advent of steam-powered trawlers radically increased overfishing. Today there are $89 million floating fish factories, 480 feet long, that can catch and freeze 440 tons of fish per day, and store 7,700 tons in the hold. The Technology Fairy is a demon. In 1500, there were 4,400,000 tons of cod off Newfoundland. By 2003, there were just 55,000 tons. Cod fishing was shut down in 1992, and 44,000 people lost their jobs. The cod have yet to show signs of recovery. The same is true for the North Sea mackerel, which collapsed in the 1970’s. Tuna, sharks, and swordfish are swimming briskly down the Dinosaur Trail. Experts calculate that global fish production peaked in 1988, and may now be declining at a rate of 770,000 tons per year. Production statistics don’t include bycatch — the fish, sea mammals, birds, and turtles that are caught but tossed back, because they can’t be sold. Nobody keeps records on bycatch, but some believe that one-third of the global catch is dumped overboard, almost all of it dead or dying, usually because of ruptured swim bladders or drowning. Clover complains that we can put a man on the moon, but no nation does a competent job of managing fisheries, with the possible exception of Iceland. Everybody can see that the industry is heading for disaster. There are already plenty of intelligent rules on the books, but effective enforcement is almost non-existent. Overfishing generates good income, fuels the economy, and hurts no one except for our children, the aquatic ecosystem, and poor people in foreign countries — none of whom can vote. The bottom line is that nobody will voluntarily back off, because the fish that you don’t catch will be caught by someone else. Monthly payments on modern boats are huge, and for many fishers, the only way to pay the bills is to catch and sell illegal fish. There are many ways of getting illegal fish to market. Port inspectors often look the other way, especially in Spain and Portugal. Extremely inaccurate paperwork is submitted and accepted. Illegal fish are delivered in mismarked boxes. If an inspector appears at port A, the boat will unload at port B, and truck the catch to the processor. Few violators get busted and punished. The huge economic benefits of pirate fishing far exceed the trivial risks. Four times every day, all fish stop what they’re doing, bow their heads, and fervently pray for World War III on the dry land above, because world wars put a halt to most fishing activities. War provides a much-appreciated break from the underwater mass extermination. They also pray for skyrocketing energy prices, catastrophic stock market crashes, and major bankruptcies in the seafood sector. They’re sick and tired of being the target of genocidal maniacs. Who can blame them? During the research process, Clover was surprised to discover that McDonalds got a top score for their fish, all of which is certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). At the opposite end of the spectrum are most chi-chi restaurants. World-famous celebrities, who would never dream of wearing a fur coat, are often photographed with famous chefs who serve the seafood equivalent of rhinoceros steaks or condor barbeque — species on the brink of extinction, like the extremely endangered tuna served at gold-plated sushi places. MSC-certified fish is also sold at Wal-Mart. Clover has no kind words for aquaculture, which many perceive to be the amazing high-tech “solution” to all of our seafood problems. Industry is vacuuming up the smaller fish in the ocean to make feed for high value fish raised in horrid concentration camps. This game cannot last long. Be aware that “organic” farmed salmon is given feed made from overfished species. Thankfully, Clover provides us with a brilliant alternative to aquaculture. Rather than feeding low-value fish to concentration camp salmon, why don’t we simply eat the perfectly edible blue whiting, herring, horse mackerel, and sand eels? They could provide us with excellent high quality protein and oils that totally bypass the mega-harmful worlds of agriculture and aquaculture. Eating small wild fish is healthier for us, much less cruel, causes less harm to the seas, and makes us feel like an intelligent species. Did you know that recreational fishers catch 30 percent of the cod taken off the coast of Maine? Did you know that about 25 percent of “catch and release” fish die soon after being returned to the water? Sport fishers now have sonar, fish finders, GPS systems, and small fast boats. Their impact is not insignificant. Anglers often break the rules, and their chances of getting caught are close to nil. Clover provides us with intelligent, effective, commonsense solutions that are politically impossible, unfortunately. We should set aside 50 percent of the ocean as reserves where fishing is prohibited. We should also cut back industrial fishing by 50 percent. We should create an aggressive full-scale oceanic police force that would have absolute authority to promptly end illegal fishing, and provide extra-generous punishment to offenders. We should consume less fish, and shop more mindfully. And so on. “We have on offer two futures. One requires difficult, active choices starting now. If we don’t take those choices, the other future will happen anyway.”

  12. 5 out of 5

    Colin

    A chilling depiction of the amount of overfishing we've been doing and, without intervention, will continue to do, until we run out of fish. Clover bounces all over the world in a very documentary style fashion, going from small fishing villages in Iceland, to the fish markets of Japan and Spain, to the offices of the EU, to fish preserves in New Zealand, documenting the failures and successes across the globe - mostly failures. He levels accusations against the scientists and politicians who fa A chilling depiction of the amount of overfishing we've been doing and, without intervention, will continue to do, until we run out of fish. Clover bounces all over the world in a very documentary style fashion, going from small fishing villages in Iceland, to the fish markets of Japan and Spain, to the offices of the EU, to fish preserves in New Zealand, documenting the failures and successes across the globe - mostly failures. He levels accusations against the scientists and politicians who fail to generate accurate stats, regulations, and enforcement against industries who reap and pillage the world over, often illegally. There's a 50/50 chance the fish on your table was caught illegally - and your table will be empty in the future, unless we adopt more sustainable practices. (Knocked a star off for a sometimes dense and rambling prose style.)

  13. 5 out of 5

    Drew Davis

    A great book for anyone interested in knowing where our food comes. It's very sobering at times to realize that we essential draining the planet of all its resources. This book is one of the prime relapses I cite for why I don't eat fish and meat. A great book for anyone interested in knowing where our food comes. It's very sobering at times to realize that we essential draining the planet of all its resources. This book is one of the prime relapses I cite for why I don't eat fish and meat.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Noura Al Fadhli

    An insight to the horrific world of fisheries across the globe and the future of fish if we do not act now. The studies, facts, books and statistics stated in this book are eye-opening and undoubtly terrifying but definitely worthwhile. Recommended.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sammi

    Like 98% certain this is related to the “End of the Line” documentary since Clover is involved in both (unsure which came first). While I’ve seen that film probably 7 or more times through my schooling, it never ceases to move me. SO I’m ready for it in book version

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mairéad

    Interesting expose on the impact of a shift away from meat and potatoes towards fish and chips on the broader marine ecosystem.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    Charles Clover tackles a topic in "The End of the Line" that for most people on the planet, especially in developed nations, is an out-of-sight, out-of-mind issue - i.e., the current (deplorable) status of global marine fisheries and global marine fisheries practices and policies. The lead quote on the front cover of the book states, "The maritime equivalent of Silent Spring" - THE INDEPENDENT. In some ways I think that quote is right. Here's why. "Silent Spring" addressed an issue - the widespr Charles Clover tackles a topic in "The End of the Line" that for most people on the planet, especially in developed nations, is an out-of-sight, out-of-mind issue - i.e., the current (deplorable) status of global marine fisheries and global marine fisheries practices and policies. The lead quote on the front cover of the book states, "The maritime equivalent of Silent Spring" - THE INDEPENDENT. In some ways I think that quote is right. Here's why. "Silent Spring" addressed an issue - the widespread and sometimes indescriminate use of long-lasting pesticides such as DDT and DDE - that had ecological and environmental effects on a scale that floored many people when they read that landmark book by Rachel Carson back in the 1960s. Her book woke people up to what was happening, and was persuasive enough that it even mobilized segments of corporate America, e.g., Dow Chemical, to actively fight against what she wrote...perhaps an indicator that she was doing something right! "Silent Spring" also helped launch the American Environmental Movement. When people read "Silent Spring" today they typcially say to themselves, "Of course, everyone knows this!" In "End of the Line" Charles Clover tackles a topic that, like pesticide use, needs to be put front and center at national and international levels. He addreses a segment of modern human endeavor - fishing - that has been with us for thousands of years, but has now reached a point where we have become so technologically advanced in our fishing practices that we can and have decimated fishery after fishery, and we have seen those fisheries crash one after another. This makes we want to weep! When I read this book I thought to myself, "Of course that's what's happening", but then again I've been following the status of global marine fisheries for over 15 years myself (I'm a marine biologist and former director of Environmental Studies at Manchester College, IN 1992-2002). Because of my background and profession Clover's thesis didn't take me by surprise, but I believe that most readers will be floored by the things he discusses. Clover recounts his travels around the world and his meetings with people ranging from government leaders to fishermen that make their living at sea. He even worked as a deck hand on a fishing boat in order to gain first-hand experience that is essential to bringing this topic to life. This book will be of interest to you if any of the following apply to you if you have interest in any of the following: 1) the status of the global marine environment 2) the status of marine fisheries 3) the behavior of your government when it comes to marine fisheries and fisheries policies (or lack thereof) 4) the future directions of marine fisheries 5) you enjoy eating fish, but want to know where the fish you eat comes from, and how they were grown or caught. This is a solid 5-star addition to the body of literature on marine fisheries. I look forward to introducing it to my future marine biology and ichthyology classes.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    If you care about the oceans, this is a book that I think everyone should read. This is just one of those books that makes you both incredibly angry about a problem and leaves you feeling pretty hopeless about how that problem might be solved. This book leaves you angry at the amount of destruction that is taking place in our oceans as we overfish to feed our growing appetites. The problem of fisheries seems like the perfect storm of conditions to create some pretty massive extinctions. Scientists If you care about the oceans, this is a book that I think everyone should read. This is just one of those books that makes you both incredibly angry about a problem and leaves you feeling pretty hopeless about how that problem might be solved. This book leaves you angry at the amount of destruction that is taking place in our oceans as we overfish to feed our growing appetites. The problem of fisheries seems like the perfect storm of conditions to create some pretty massive extinctions. Scientists know very little, in general, about the oceans and less about fish; fisherman have very strong lobbies; technology allows fisherman to catch more and more; and the public knows very little about the subject. Though I found the book compelling, the problem seems so large, that it seems impossible to solve. The book does offer some solutions to the problem, but it doesn't do a good enough job on telling ordinary folk how to incorporate these tips. For example, one of the tips is "know more about what we are eating, and reject fish caught unsustainably." While this is great advice, some follow-up on how to find these things out might be nice. I will leave with a statistic gleaned from this book. "Romanov estimated the catches of tuna in the whole western Indian Ocean at 236,500 - 313,500 tons between 1990 and 1995 - less than it is now. In the process of catching this, purse seiners also caught up to the following amounts: 2,530 tons of pelagic shars, 1,870 tons of rainbow runners, 1,815 tons of dolphin fish, 1,320 tons of triggerfish, 297 tons of wahoo, 220 tons of billfishes, 143 tons of mobula and manta rays, 88 tons of mackeral skad, 27 tons of barracuda, 176 tons of miscellaneous fish, and an unspecified number of endangered turtles and whales." I find that statistic scary.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Rex

    When we sit down for what we think is a "healthy" and "eco-friendly" plate of fish, many of us may be eating the equivalent of Black Rhino, Mountain Gorilla or Bengal Tiger and not even know it. Add a fat dose of mercury and you are damaging both the planet and yourself - possibly irreversibly. Tuna-fish may be "dolphin friendly" but it is an environmental wrecking-ball for all sorts of (endangered or other) life - both plant & animal. Our current system of fishing is widely unsustainable and ou When we sit down for what we think is a "healthy" and "eco-friendly" plate of fish, many of us may be eating the equivalent of Black Rhino, Mountain Gorilla or Bengal Tiger and not even know it. Add a fat dose of mercury and you are damaging both the planet and yourself - possibly irreversibly. Tuna-fish may be "dolphin friendly" but it is an environmental wrecking-ball for all sorts of (endangered or other) life - both plant & animal. Our current system of fishing is widely unsustainable and our understanding of this is only just beginning to emerge. But there is hope. Read the book, get informed and get active - one way is to consume only sustainable fish. Both "health activists" and "environmentalists" often mistake eating fish for being more healthy and treading more lightly on the planet. It is not always so (and often is precisely the opposite). Eating fish can be one of the most destructive activities you undertake. In fact, eating a McDonald's Fish Filet may be less destructive than the fish in 5-star restaurants. READ THE BOOK (I haven't seen the movie). It's not the greatest-written book for "flowing" - but it is absolutely necessary for anyone interested in fish, fishing, the state of the oceans and (literally) the future of humanity's diet. Every purchase you make is a "vote". Get informed as to how you are casting your vote. Until you read the book in its entirety, here's a good start - eat more farm-raised Tillapia.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    If you ate seafood before, you might think twice after reading this. The author does a good job of giving you the facts about how your fish is caught and why it is unsustainable. He doesn't use scare tactics about mercury or dolphins dying or anything like that. He uses hard numbers given by the scientists of what should be caught and then interviews the fishermen and from their own words tells us how much of what they do catch is illegal size of over quota. Frankly I am surprised we have any fi If you ate seafood before, you might think twice after reading this. The author does a good job of giving you the facts about how your fish is caught and why it is unsustainable. He doesn't use scare tactics about mercury or dolphins dying or anything like that. He uses hard numbers given by the scientists of what should be caught and then interviews the fishermen and from their own words tells us how much of what they do catch is illegal size of over quota. Frankly I am surprised we have any fish left. The author is equal in his chastisement of governments for doing to little and catering to the very few (the fishermen) over this whole idealized view of what the fisherman is and represents. He makes the analogy to a similar sized industry, lawn mowers. If the government catered to the lawn mower industry everyone would be up in arms so why are we catering to fishermen? He does criticize governments for doing to little but he is just as willing to praise them for doing the right things. Apparently the US is doing better than most of the world in managing our stocks and allowing them to rebound. He points out strategies that have worked and is encouraged to see these strategies adopted in other fisheries and other countries. This was actually a pretty easy read. Usually these types of books take me a couple of weeks to read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Penny

    Mindy said this was a good book, someone else I know said it was a good book. By the end of the second disc I was wondering what on earth this book could tell me. There seemed to be one study with brains and rats right after another. Rats who eat too much, rats who eat just enough, MRI scans of brains showing this area or that area responding to this or that stimulus....oh my gosh over and over. I stuck with it because two people I know had said it was worth reading. In the last disc (chapter 41) Mindy said this was a good book, someone else I know said it was a good book. By the end of the second disc I was wondering what on earth this book could tell me. There seemed to be one study with brains and rats right after another. Rats who eat too much, rats who eat just enough, MRI scans of brains showing this area or that area responding to this or that stimulus....oh my gosh over and over. I stuck with it because two people I know had said it was worth reading. In the last disc (chapter 41) he starts to bring it all together. And how! So far I've listened to the last disc twice. I may listen to it again. Each time I listen I hear another bit of information that makes it all click and come together. This is not to say that you can skip the first 40 chapters. I think you need that background to have the end of the book (chapter 41 and onwards) come together as it should. I hope you find this as interesting as I did.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Loraine

    Everyone needs to read this book. Charles Clover, a UK environmental reporter, researched the state of fishing on the high seas and the condition of the world's fisheries. All the food fish that have sustained human beings are 90% depleted, and the lawless nature of the high seas lends itself to unsustainable fishing practices. Technology has outpaced the ability to manage its use, and as a result the commercial fishing fleet is on its way causing extinction of fish like bluefin tuna or toothfis Everyone needs to read this book. Charles Clover, a UK environmental reporter, researched the state of fishing on the high seas and the condition of the world's fisheries. All the food fish that have sustained human beings are 90% depleted, and the lawless nature of the high seas lends itself to unsustainable fishing practices. Technology has outpaced the ability to manage its use, and as a result the commercial fishing fleet is on its way causing extinction of fish like bluefin tuna or toothfish or North Atlantic cod. He documents the poor management of fleets, the piracy that some engage in, the flagrant disregard for quotas, etc,behaviors that will result in the theft of our future. He lays out possible solutions as well. To quote the author, "We have on offer one of two futures. One requires difficult, active choices starting now. If we don't take those choices, the other future will happen anyway."

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lis

    Very few books can be qualified as "life-changing". Probably most people will never read a truly life-changing book. It's an over-used book jacket epithet. But, for me, Charles Clover's essay on the industrial, short-sighted over-exploitation of a precious, complex and oft-forgotten eco-system (the oceans) has been life-changing. There's a definite before and after. Even if you're already vaguely aware of the issues surrounding over-fishing, the threat to blue fin tuna or the collapse of North At Very few books can be qualified as "life-changing". Probably most people will never read a truly life-changing book. It's an over-used book jacket epithet. But, for me, Charles Clover's essay on the industrial, short-sighted over-exploitation of a precious, complex and oft-forgotten eco-system (the oceans) has been life-changing. There's a definite before and after. Even if you're already vaguely aware of the issues surrounding over-fishing, the threat to blue fin tuna or the collapse of North Atlantic cod stocks, this book gives you much greater insight and lays out just how complex the problem and the solutions are. It made me very cross, and also determined to change the choices I make. And I annoy all my family and friends with it too, by nagging them to think about their choices. I think it's starting to work...

  24. 5 out of 5

    Gustine

    I tried so hard with this one because the topic is important and I wanted to learn whatever it was he had to say.... in fact I almost succeeded in finishing (got to within 30 pages of the end) but I was forced to skim; I just couldn't read every word anymore. Such dry writing. He didn't bring any of these fish to life! Where are the descriptions of what the fish are like in their natural habitat? To care about them we need them brought to life. Drawings would have added greatly; I have no idea w I tried so hard with this one because the topic is important and I wanted to learn whatever it was he had to say.... in fact I almost succeeded in finishing (got to within 30 pages of the end) but I was forced to skim; I just couldn't read every word anymore. Such dry writing. He didn't bring any of these fish to life! Where are the descriptions of what the fish are like in their natural habitat? To care about them we need them brought to life. Drawings would have added greatly; I have no idea what most of these fish look like. Maps of where in the seas they live/migrate would have been lovely too. There are certainly tidbits here that are interesting and need-to-know information, but the writing is simply not a pleasure to read. Dry & lifeless.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    Definitely thought provoking and concern inducing. The book was selected as the main component of the summer assignment for a course I teach; it definitely offers a lot of material for classroom discussion. For the environmentally-conscious recreational reader, you should know that the author is a British journalist and as such the writing style is a bit unique. The chapters take an interesting angle on the issues and include a fair amount of data for those who like to evaluate the impact of num Definitely thought provoking and concern inducing. The book was selected as the main component of the summer assignment for a course I teach; it definitely offers a lot of material for classroom discussion. For the environmentally-conscious recreational reader, you should know that the author is a British journalist and as such the writing style is a bit unique. The chapters take an interesting angle on the issues and include a fair amount of data for those who like to evaluate the impact of numbers. Charles Clover is not shy about his opinions, which can be either refreshing or a bit wearing depending on your point of view. I particularly found the way in which he addresses the foodie culture toward the end of the book particularly eye-opening.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    This is really, as I've seen it described, an expose of the fishing industries of the world. There was a significant bias to the issue- certainly more than I care for- but on the side of what I'll term "good" (i.e., protecting natural resources, and not just the fish stocks but marine ecosystems in general) so guess I'll let that slide. I honestly didn't really find it an enjoyable read and about halfway through was finding it somewhat tiresome with its continuous statistics and sturm und drang. This is really, as I've seen it described, an expose of the fishing industries of the world. There was a significant bias to the issue- certainly more than I care for- but on the side of what I'll term "good" (i.e., protecting natural resources, and not just the fish stocks but marine ecosystems in general) so guess I'll let that slide. I honestly didn't really find it an enjoyable read and about halfway through was finding it somewhat tiresome with its continuous statistics and sturm und drang. Overall, it was enlightening (I had no idea what was involved in managing the world's fisheries, or even how they went about their business) and thought-provoking. As I long suspected, the oceans are a finite resource, just like everything else.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kyla

    I read snippets a couple years ago for a report. I found it very interesting, well-written and researched, and it gave me a more active concern for the oceans. I stopped reading at finals time and still haven't picked it back up, but the 50-100 pages I read were really great. I think it's got the potential to get readers who have a vague or undeveloped concern about overfishing to develop a real understanding of the problem and take an activist stance against it. I am not a conservation scientis I read snippets a couple years ago for a report. I found it very interesting, well-written and researched, and it gave me a more active concern for the oceans. I stopped reading at finals time and still haven't picked it back up, but the 50-100 pages I read were really great. I think it's got the potential to get readers who have a vague or undeveloped concern about overfishing to develop a real understanding of the problem and take an activist stance against it. I am not a conservation scientist, so I don't know whether it offers new info to experts - but as a layperson who enjoys well-written, well-researched literary nonfiction and science...it's good!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    Don't eat most ocean fish! We're overfishing the entire ocean. THE ENTIRE OCEAN. Water covers over 70% of the Earth's surface and has abundant life, and humans are busily baking it all to feed our growing population. Environmentally destructive factory fishing techniques are not only decimating wildlife populations in our oceans, but are destroying the habitat this life relies on in order to recover from being hunted and harvested. We are collectively idiots when it comes to sustainable ocean fi Don't eat most ocean fish! We're overfishing the entire ocean. THE ENTIRE OCEAN. Water covers over 70% of the Earth's surface and has abundant life, and humans are busily baking it all to feed our growing population. Environmentally destructive factory fishing techniques are not only decimating wildlife populations in our oceans, but are destroying the habitat this life relies on in order to recover from being hunted and harvested. We are collectively idiots when it comes to sustainable ocean fishing.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    This is the second time I have tried to read this book. It is an utterly depressing book about how humans have wiped out most of the fish in the world. Perhaps for people who still eat fish, this would be a really good book. However, I don't eat fish anymore, in large part because of the collapse of fish species caused by humans. This is the second time I have tried to read this book. It is an utterly depressing book about how humans have wiped out most of the fish in the world. Perhaps for people who still eat fish, this would be a really good book. However, I don't eat fish anymore, in large part because of the collapse of fish species caused by humans.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Siobhan

    Dry at times, but well worth the read for those interested in fisheries management. For those who aren't as interested, I'd recommend Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food instead as it's a faster, more accessible read. Dry at times, but well worth the read for those interested in fisheries management. For those who aren't as interested, I'd recommend Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food instead as it's a faster, more accessible read.

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