Demon Fish: overexploited oceans and the loss of their top predators

In eleventh grade, during a unit on public speaking in English class, I gave a brief speech on sharks. I had, by that time, been enamored with sharks for the better part of a decade and planned to go to college to become a marine biologist. I concluded my speech with a plea for their protection. “Sharks have more to fear from us than we have to fear from them,” I said.

My teacher didn’t buy it. After all, she’d seen Jaws—hadn’t everybody?—and she didn’t believe that sharks had anything at all to fear from us.

I wish I’d had Juliet Eilperin’s book Demon Fish to offer as a rebuttal.

Of course, I delivered that speech in the spring of 1986. Eilperin’s book came out last June. It was the most depressing book I read all summer.

Demon Fish is a tale of woe. If you want to be disheartened by the overexploitation of our oceans, this’ll do it for you in no time. Continue reading

Four Fish: A bleak future for the world's last wild food

Can aquaculture save the world’s last wild food? That’s the question posed by the cover story of the July 18 issue of Time, which takes a look at the continuing collapse of the world’s fisheries. Fish seems so superabundant on our dinner plates that one can hardly fathom how we could possibly run out. After all, the ocean is so BIG.

Well, the deep blue sea is getting emptier and emptier, and even if the shoreline seems far away, the fisheries crisis is going to start hitting close to home—soon.

That’s the outlook, grim as it is, forecast by author Paul Greenberg in his recent book, Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food. Greenberg dives into the topic with gusto—in part, one has to imagine, because the oceanic crisis is so catastrophic. Continue reading