The Unnatural History of the Sea
This criticism made the book a fairly slow read, in addition to the fact that I felt terrible ever...more
It's truly shocking to realize how devastating the impact has been, from millions and billions of fish down to countable numbers, and how the remaining sea creatures have adapted to the changed...more
The main point that this book conveys is that the over-exploitation of the seas began much earlier than is believed to be, and that the present baselines for what is considered healthy for oceans and a target for recovery is way too low. Also, these baselines keep shifting, as people rely on their own experience, get used to what they see and dismiss older account...more
Since about 1000 AD, Europeans, their descendenants, the descendenants of their colonists, with help of all sorts of other people in last few decades, have been doing some serious fishing in saltwater. In the last 150 years or so that has become serious enough to drastically reduce the abundance of some once common marine species.
A small number of motifs repeat themselves throughout the book. People start out fishing close to home, and as they reduce the fish (or crustacean or bivalve) popula...more
Here I thought that commercial fishing was a new phenomenon, and that rapidly declining fish populations started halfway through the 20th century! How wrong I was. Our baselines have been shifting for centuries. Mega-fauna have been systematically stripped from the ocean everywhere humans have encountered...more
Yes, there's also plenty of fun historical fact and de...more
Second, the narrator felt the need to distinguish various quotations by reading them in bogus, irritating accents. (At one point, I thought I was attending a party with a piratical theme.) Third, the content left me quivering with rage at the massive depletion of our natural heritage. So much has been lost over the last 1,000 years, and so much of that du...more
The first step to solving a problem is identifying it, and Callum Roberts does an amazing job of chronicling both what we had in the oceans, and what we've lost. It was amazing the extent to which the human race is capable of forgetting what it knows and has experienced. Roberts has given us a chance to get it back.
I read this book while on vacation in...more
Tons of detail and interesting history about how we have slowly fucked over the sea since year dot. The history of trawling is surprising and really scary. Will we ever learn or listen ever.
The same issues keep cropping up time and time again and its quite astonishing that he managed to write a final optimistic-ish chapter at the end. At this point most people would just q...more
‘…each generation comes to view the environment into which it was born as natural, normal… shifting environmental baselines cause collective societal amnesia in which gradual deterioration of the environment and depletion of wildlife pass almost unnoticed…’
Reduce the amount of fishing,eliminate risky decisions, eliminate catch quotas, require fishers to keept what they catch, use the best availalbe fishing technology to reduce bycatch, ban or restrict the most damaging fishing gear, set up marine reserves.
His main research interests include documenting the impacts of fishing on marine life, both historic and modern, and exploring the effectiveness of marine protected areas. For the last 10 years he has used his science background to make the case for st...more