Discussion: Kurlansky himself is a former commercial fisherman who has gone on to win a number of awards for his writing. I think his background adds an important element to the book, because he does not simply attack commercial fishing as many environmentally-oriented books do, but takes a more balanced approach. The illustrations and graphic variations in the font not only provide emphasis but keep the reader interested and actively involved in interpreting the text.Evaluation: A wonderful book for kids and adult alike. Highly recommended, unless you really, really like to eat swordfish or grouper….
This book is intended for ages 9 and above, but I really found it quite good for my age as well, which is a bit more than 9. Kurlansky’s purpose is to educate readers on what is happening with the world’s fish, its oceans, and the environment in general. Aided by the appealing illustrations of Frank Stockton, he does a wonderful job.Using quotes from Darwin throughout the book, Kurlansky explains what has been going on with fishing in the modern age, and how the repercussions can affect the entire planet. It’s an important argument because so many people are under the impression that since the oceans are so vast, relatively minor insults here and there won’t damage the whole. Kurlansky tells you how and why this argument is unfortunately incorrect.He begins by noting that "Most of the fish we commonly eat, most of the fish we know, could be gone in the next fifty years.” Why? Kurlansky gives a number of reasons. Some of the more compelling ones are:In spite of the literally millions of eggs laid by fish, each birth results in only between one and six surviving babies.The survival struggle of a species depends on maintaining a large population.Between 100 and 120 million tons of sea life are killed by fishing every year. Life in the ocean can’t reproduce fast enough every year to make up for the loss.Fish farms are not, as currently run, the best answer. Most farmed fish need to be fed wild fish. In the case of salmon, it has been estimated that four pounds of wild fish are fed to grown one pound of farmed fish!The ocean is now full of garbage and pollutants. In fact, The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is estimated to vary from an eighth of the size of the United States to twice its size!If the seas are warming and ice is melting from global warming, this means the melted ice, which is freshwater, will make the seas less salty. Most fish need very specific degrees of salinity to survive and to reproduce.Excessive carbon, also going into the oceans, also slows the growth rate of fish and affects egg production.Without enough sea life to eat plankton, the sea can become clogged with it, leaving huge poisonous areas where the plankton rots and also blocks oxygen from any underwater survivors.Birds that rely on fish could die out, as could higher animals that rely on birds, and so on, up the evolutionary chain.Kurlansky is not satisfied with just sending out an alarm. He also offers a number of ideas for people – especially young people – to become involved and help save the oceans. He also lists websites that will provide updated information on what fish are safe to eat, and which fish are culled in a “sustainable” way.