The Unnatural History of the Sea

Island Press, 14.07.2007 - 456 Seiten
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.

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LibraryThing Review

Nutzerbericht  - GoofyOcean110 - LibraryThing

With The Unnatural History of the Sea, Callum Roberts extensively documents the destructiveness and shortsightedness that fishing has generally had on the abundance, distribution, and diversity of ... Vollständige Rezension lesen

LibraryThing Review

Nutzerbericht  - bfertig - LibraryThing

With The Unnatural History of the Sea, Callum Roberts extensively documents the destructiveness and shortsightedness that fishing has generally had on the abundance, distribution, and diversity of ... Vollständige Rezension lesen

Ausgewählte Seiten


The Modern Era of Industrial Fishing
The Once and Future Ocean

Andere Ausgaben - Alle anzeigen

Häufige Begriffe und Wortgruppen

Beliebte Passagen

Seite 76 - A great many canoes, filled with the natives, were about the ships all day ; and a trade commenced betwixt us and them, which was carried on with the strictest honesty on both sides.
Seite 119 - ... ocean. It is divided into distinct columns of five or six miles in length and three or four in breadth, and they drive the water before them with a kind of rippling...
Seite 274 - The many men, so beautiful! And they all dead did lie: And a thousand thousand slimy things Lived on; and so did I.
Seite 46 - ... that aboundance of fish, lying so thicke with their heads above the water, as for want of nets (our barge driuing amongst them) we attempted to catch them with a frying pan ; but we found it a bad instrument to catch fish with...
Seite 33 - They assert that the sea there is swarming with fish, which can be taken not only with the net, but in baskets let down with a stone, so that it sinks in the water.
Seite 177 - There is still another and more powerful enemy called, by the fishermen of New England, the killer. This is itself supposed to be a cetaceous animal, armed with strong and powerful teeth. A number of these are said to surround the Whale, in the same manner as dogs get round a bull. Some attack it with their teeth behind; others attempt it before: until, at last, the great animal is torn down, and its tongue is said to be the only part they devour when they have made it their prey. They are...
Seite 164 - most frequented fishing grounds are much more prolific of food " than the same extent of the richest land. Once in the year an " acre of good land, carefully tilled, produces a ton of corn, or two
Seite 224 - It is not hard to surmise the menhaden's place in nature ; swarming our waters in countless myriads, swimming in closely packed, unwieldy masses, helpless as flocks of sheep, near to the surface and at the mercy of every enemy, destitute of means of defence and offence, their mission is unmistakably to be eaten.
Seite 295 - As we descend deeper and deeper into this region, the inhabitants become more and more modified, and fewer and fewer, indicating our approach to an abyss where life is either extinguished, or exhibits but a few sparks to mark its lingering presence.
Seite 71 - Seals swarm as thick about this island (of John Fernando, as he terms it) as if they had no other place in the world to live in; for there is not a bay nor rock that one can get ashore on but is full of them.

Über den Autor (2007)

Callum M. Roberts is professor of marine conservation at the University of York in England. He is a prolific author and researcher, and has advised the U.S., British, and Caribbean governments on the creation of marine reserves.

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