The Unnatural History of the Sea

The Unnatural History of the Sea

by Callum Roberts
     
 

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ISBN-10: 1597261963

ISBN-13: 9781597261968

Pub. Date: 07/30/2007

Publisher: Island Press

Humanity can make short work of the oceans’ creatures. In 1741, hungry explorers discovered herds of Steller’s sea cow in the Bering Strait, and in less than thirty years, the amiable beast had been harpooned into extinction. It’s a classic story, but a key fact is often omitted. Bering Island was the last redoubt of a species that had been

Overview

Humanity can make short work of the oceans’ creatures. In 1741, hungry explorers discovered herds of Steller’s sea cow in the Bering Strait, and in less than thirty years, the amiable beast had been harpooned into extinction. It’s a classic story, but a key fact is often omitted. Bering Island was the last redoubt of a species that had been decimated by hunting and habitat loss years before the
explorers set sail.

As Callum M. Roberts reveals in The Unnatural History of the Sea, the oceans’ bounty didn’t disappear overnight. While today’s fishing industry is ruthlessly efficient, intense exploitation began not in the modern era, or even with the dawn of industrialization, but in the eleventh century in medieval Europe. Roberts explores this long and colorful history of commercial fishing, taking readers around the world and through the centuries to witness the transformation of the seas.

Drawing on firsthand accounts of early explorers, pirates, merchants, fishers, and travelers, the book recreates the oceans of the past: waters teeming with whales, sea lions, sea otters, turtles, and giant fish. The abundance of marine life described by fifteenth century seafarers is almost unimaginable today, but Roberts both brings it alive and artfully traces its depletion. Collapsing fisheries, he shows, are simply the latest chapter in a long history of unfettered commercialization of the seas.

The story does not end with an empty ocean. Instead, Roberts describes how we might restore the splendor and prosperity of the seas through smarter management of our resources and some simple restraint. From the coasts of Florida to New Zealand, marine reserves have fostered spectacular recovery of plants and animals to levels not seen in a century. They prove that history need not repeat itself: we can leave the oceans richer than we found them.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781597261968
Publisher:
Island Press
Publication date:
07/30/2007
Edition description:
1 Large Print
Pages:
650
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 2.20(d)

Table of Contents

Preface
 
PART I. Explorers and Exploiters in the Age of Plenty
Chapter 1. The End of Innocence
Chapter 2. The Origins of Intensive Fishing
Chapter 3. Newfound Lands
Chapter 4. More Fish than Water
Chapter 5. Plunder of the Caribbean
Chapter 6. The Age of Merchant Adventurers
Chapter 7. Whaling: The First Global Industry
Chapter 8. To the Ends of the Earth for Seals
Chapter 9. The Great Fisheries of Europe
Chapter 10. The First Trawling Revolution
Chapter 11. The Dawn of Industrial Fishing
 
PART II. The Modern Era of Industrial Fishing 
Chapter 12. The Inexhaustible Sea
Chapter 13. The Legacy of Whaling
Chapter 14. Emptying European Seas
Chapter 15. The Downfall of King Cod
Chapter 16. Slow Death of an Estuary: Chesapeake Bay
Chapter 17. The Collapse of Coral
Chapter 18. Shifting Baselines
Chapter 19. Ghost Habitats
Chapter 20. Hunting on the High Plains of the Open Sea
Chapter 21. Violating the Last Great Wilderness
Chapter 22. No Place Left to Hide

PART III. The Once and Future Ocean
Chapter 23. Barbequed Jellyfish or Swordfish Steak?
Chapter 24. Reinventing Fishery Management
Chapter 25. The Return of Abundance
Chapter 26. The Future of Fish
 
Notes
Index

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