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The End of the Line (Book Review)

The End of the Line

In the last century 90 per cent of the World’s fish have disappeared and the hand lays squarely at the feet of human beings for how this travesty of the Commons has happened. Charles Clover’s book titled The End of the Line: How Overfishing is Changing the World and What We Eat is the result of several decades investigating and experiencing the various fishing grounds that feed us. He looks at where we fish, the historic evolution of our fisheries and how and why we’ve suffered specific fisheries collapses.

As a young man I was drawn to commercial fishing in Bass Straight (long-tooth scallop dredging that quickly collapsed the industry) and several months working on a prawn trawler out of Townsville. It was obvious that a world without quota and devoid of some sort of communal responsibility had no long-term future. And if fisheries within the 200 mile limit were treated that way then what hope was there for the oceans that have since been blitzkrieged with industrial high-technology driven fisheries? The by-catch from trawling for prawns off the Great Barrier Reef meant that a good ton of fish in the net equaled a bucket of prawns, a few Moreton Bay bugs and the rest went back over the side dead.

So I really did find The End of the Line a compelling book that can only be recommended to humans who should be very worried about how we are going to consider feeding 9+ billion people by 2050 without fish. And it’s right now that we need to be discriminating on our plate to ensure that resource continues to exist… as for wild fish farming of carnivore species there have been more problems created than questions answered, so don’t hang your hat on that being a solution.

While reading this book a tweet ran down my Twitter stream from a usability professional in the Unites States – he wrote “I need more Sturgeons in my life”. He’s tweeted that before. So I replied with a link to Wikipedia for information about sturgeon… just so he’s aware that sturgeon are highly endangered. Unfortunately restaurants seem to be quite willing to provide their patrons with the almost forbidden fruit of endangered species. However, we would be appalled to read that Bengal tiger steaks and urangatan cutlets were served to the rich.

The End of the Line is an accompanying book to the documentary of the same name. It does look at the problem but more importantly it looks at the relatively simple solutions. Some major fisheries have collapsed and rebounded… but only through a long hard process with the involvement of all stakeholders (not just commercial & recreational fishermen). Perhaps one of the biggest challenges is to rope in the global fish plunder of the European Union. However, it’s fixable if we continue this turnaround rather than pretending it will go away. If we don’t chase that solution then the only thing to go away certainly will be the fish.

A refreshing part of Charles Clover’s book is also the positivity he has that it doesn’t need to be this way. We can still have our fish and eat them, too. If we do it the right way. If we stop strip-mining the oceans for economic short-term benefits over the interests of the fish and the people’s Commons.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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