A sea of troubles: robbing the poor to feed the rich.

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THE END OF THE LINE

HOW OVERFISHING IS CHANGING THE WORLD AND WHAT WE EAT

By Charles Clover

[pounds sterling]14.99 Ebury Press

ISBN 0-0918-9780-7

In the introduction to this remarkable book, Charles Clover asks the reader to conjure up an image of a group of hunters riding two immense all-terrain vehicles. Between these vehicles, is strung a net--measuring kilometres in width--with a huge metal roller attached to the leading bottom edge.

Moving in tandem, the two vehicles pick up speed, the rolling beam smashing and flattening obstructions, flushing creatures into the approaching filament net. Into this net is scooped 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 warthogs and wild dogs. Pregnant females would be swept up and carried along, with only the smallest juveniles able to wriggle through the mesh.

The effect of dragging a huge iron bar across the savannah is to break off every outcrop, up-root every tree, bush and flowering plant, stirring columns of birds into the air. Left behind is a straggling landscape resembling a harrowed field.

After travelling for a number of hours for tens of kilometres at a time, the industrial hunter-gatherers riding on the two mighty vehicles stop to examine the tangled mass of writhing or dead creatures in the net. There are no markets for about one-third of their catch because they don't taste good or are simply too small or too squashed. This pile of corpses is simply dumped on the plain to be consumed by carrion.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

This surreal scenario, you might ask, could surely never happen in real life? Wrong, it could and it does. A close variant of this practice happens around the world each and every day. This highly unselective way of killing animals is known as ocean trawling.

But, as Glover reminds us, "because what fishermen do is obscured by distance and the veil of water that covers the Earth, and because fish are cold-blooded and not cuddly, most people still view what happens at sea differently to what happens on land".

OCEAN CRISIS GREATER THAN POLLUTION

Put simply, man's love of consuming fish is unsustainable--particularly in the West where a fish diet is both fashionable and seen as a more healthy alternative diet to one of meat.

Around the world there is evidence that numerous types of fish, such as northern cod, North Sea mackerel, the marbled rock...

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