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The Unnatural History of the Sea: The Past and Future of Humanity and Fishing (Gaia Thinking) Paperback – 15 Aug 2007

5.0 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Gaia (15 Aug. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1856752941
  • ISBN-13: 978-1856752947
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.8 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 90,514 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

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"Eloquent and inspiring" - Richard Page, Greenpeace

Book Description

Written by a world authority on marine conservation. Highly topical - Constant item in the news, and a large concern for much of the public. Uses involving stories of individuals as an example of broader trends, thus making history both exciting and relevant to our current political and social climate.

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I came to this book after reading Sylvia Earle's books on Sea Change and Why the Planet is Blue....no guilt about plugging these at the same time. Eminently readable and full of historical flash back, putting the present era within the longer perspective. Callum Roberts also features in the DVD The End of the Line, and his cheery smiling face contrasts chillingly with and commensurately increases the import of his message. This book is a must read for all interested in marine life, the future of the oceans and the essential food chain within in. Fish are the basic food of a large proportion of the population of the planet; without fish the food crisis will enter nuclear proportions. The impact of factory fishing cannot be overstated - as a diver I'm always shocked when I enter the waters around the UK (Wales,usually) as I always feel 'something is missing'...it's the fish!! And not only the fish but the variety of life underwater....oh, and the startling increase in jellyfish. Can we eat these? And when you've read this, buy his next book, published this year - 'Ocean of Life'. I promise you if you have any capacity for reason you will listen to the science and concur that we need to act now. Informative and inspiring.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Disturbing look into the future from the perspective of our use and abuse of the seas. Essential reading for those interested in the further of mankind.

Emphasises our responsibility to all living things through this shared and dominant ecozone, which we are polluting and damaging on a daily basis. For those with a short term view of 'It'll be OK in my lifetime', think hard it won't be in your grandchildrens'
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I was initially put off picking this book up by the fact that it has a commendation from Greenpeace on the front cover. However it is well researched and wonderfully written with the authors own easy style interspersed with quotations from various well chosen historical sources. He really manages to bring home how much we have changed our marine environment through over-exploitation of its natural resources (fish, whales etc).

I have some issues with the suggestion by the author that management of the ocean is currently split between Marine Reserves (0.6%) and what he calls an "Extensive Exploitation Area" (the rest). Much of this area I am sure could be regarded as Managed Zones (or perhaps "not very well managed zones"). His suggestions for the future management of the sea concur with those of the green fin brigade who think that we need to completely ban fishing from most of the ocean. Many others would suggest that what we really need to do is ensure effective management over all of the ocean in a manner that works with fishermen rather than against them.

I found this to be a really well written and informative book. If you are at all interested in the sea and marine life you should read it.
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Format: Paperback
This book is about the sea, but the same story could be told for mans exploitation of the land ecosystems. Only the inpoverishment occured earlier on land (Martin & Klein 1984). And this is the punchline of the book: shifting baselines is decieving the average spectator into believing, that nature wasn't much in the first place. This argument can still be heard. Why conserve nature if it wasn't much in the first place? The author of the book lists up the disasters and in doing so depicts the very much different nature there once was - and that can be again one day, if only we allow it. Please read this book.
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Format: Hardcover
The problem with the oceans is that you can't see what's going on down there. Foresters can count trees, birdwatchers have "life lists", but fishery managers can only weigh a catch and guesstimate the numbers. That's the fish that are landed - those and other life caught in nets or hooks disappear uncounted and unreported. "Counting" fish has been a problem since ancient times and the sea has remained a realm of mystery right up to the present. Ironically, as Callum Roberts points out in this informative study, it's those who have harvested sea life - often in immeasurable quantities, who have helped reveal something of what goes on beneath the waves.

Roberts understands the need for fishers. Sea life is a substantial form of protein, particularly when land animals are expensive or unattainable. Men have fished from shore, from coast-hugging boats and from ships drawing a wide variety of gear through the water seeking dinner for demanding thousands. Anyone casting into the nearest river or lake will describe fish as "fickle", unresponsive to the most adroitly placed lure. Ocean fishers, however, trailing extended nets or other gear have the same complaint for other reasons. Where have the fish gone? Roberts points out that human fishing of the seas has undergone three revolutions - trawl nets in the 14th Century, steam power, and deep ocean fishing in the 20th Century. Each of these revolutions was a step in finding the missing fish. Each has proven a way to exhaust the ocean's bounty in a short time. The fish have disappeared.

As he tours through time and place, the author portrays the greed and unreflecting view of fishers, government and even science.
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