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The End of the Line: How Overfishing Is Changing the World and What We Eat

4.01  ·  Rating Details ·  347 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
Gourmands and health-conscious consumers alike have fallen for fish; last year per capita consumption in the United States hit an all-time high. Packed with nutrients and naturally low in fat, fish is the last animal we can still eat in good conscience. Or can we?

In this vivid, eye-opening book—first published in the UK to wide acclaim and now extensively revised for an Am
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Hardcover, 386 pages
Published November 13th 2006 by The New Press (first published 2004)
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The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest HemingwayMoby-Dick; or, The Whale by Herman MelvilleCod by Mark KurlanskyOne Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. SeussThe River Why by David James Duncan
Finding Out About Fish
22nd out of 63 books — 34 voters
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest HemingwaySnow Falling on Cedars by David GutersonSalar the Salmon by Henry WilliamsonFour Fish by Paul GreenbergThe Tragedy of the Commodity by Stefano B. Longo
fishing and fisheries
9th out of 62 books — 7 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,308)
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Brian
Resources exist to be consumed. And consumed they will be, if not by this generation then by some future. By what right does this forgotten future seek to deny us our birthright? None I say! Let us take what is ours, chew and eat our fill.
-CEO Nwabudike Morgan, The Ethics of Greed
When talking about global warming, one of the things I tell people is that if they really want a sense of paralyzing despair to overcome them, all they need to do is look at what humanity is doing to the oceans. And wh
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Daniel
Jun 11, 2007 Daniel rated it really liked it
An incendiary diatribe about the destruction wrought by overfishing, this book is eye-opening. Although Clover’s tone is strident, his research is impeccable; with journalistic detail he repeatedly documents the waste and folly of modern fishing methods. Clover lets no one off the hook: fishermen, politicians, scientists, consumers, all are complicit. If you eat fish, you should read this book.
John
Jun 28, 2011 John rated it really liked it
I don’t eat fish, I am allergic and I am still very glad I read this book. It transformed the way I think about fishing and the oceans.

About a month and a half ago I (accidentally) got tickets to see a deep sea diver present information about the current state of the oceans. She was very damning and bleak and recommended this book as further reading. I am glad I took her up on it.

The book starts off bleak and depressing. About 60 pages in I was worried that all it was going to be was a catalog
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dara
Mar 05, 2011 dara rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
This book contained quite a bit of useful information; however, I'll be on the lookout for another book to recommend because the writing isn't the most spellbinding, to say the least. It took a bit of determination to finish reading it.

To summarize, illegal overfishing (and overfishing in general) has depleted fish stocks. The amount of fish has been overestimated in the past due to a mix of ineptitude and falsified records. We're slowly coming to realize that WE'RE FUCKED. Unless something is
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Doug
Dec 13, 2010 Doug rated it it was ok
Drier than an overcooked tuna steak. While the statistics regarding overfishing are compelling and a little scary, the author relies too heavily on numbers generated by environmental defense organizations and gets very little information from fisherman (commercial and recreational) and fishing organizations; when he does it is poo-pooed and brushed aside. The book could have been so much better. While not a technical treatise on fisheries, it is too reliant on data and not enough on the human el ...more
Richard Reese
Mar 22, 2015 Richard Reese rated it it was amazing
Charles Clover’s book, The End of the Line, is a heartbreaking story about the seafood industry’s War on Fish. The poor fish don’t have much of a chance anymore, because there’s nowhere to hide from the latest technology. The eventual outcome of this systematic massacre is already obvious — both sides are going to lose. When the nets finally come up empty, the unemployed fishers will shape-shift into burger flippers, security guards, and homeless panhandlers. But until that final day, they’ll ke ...more
Phillip
May 13, 2014 Phillip rated it really liked it
Surprising how little has really changed since publication in 2006.

Well balanced discussion of fisheries issues and sustainability cunundrums.

MSC certification has proven to be problematic and not the panacea predicted, but customer awareness and traceability have improved considerably.

Wish it didn't seem so topical. Hope that is because what was radical in 2006 is conventional wisdom in 2014.
Joseph
Jun 12, 2008 Joseph rated it really liked it
An essential book for anyone who is serious.
Elizabeth
Jan 26, 2013 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Shelves: conservation
If you ate seafood before, you might think twice after reading this. The author does a good job of giving you the facts about how your fish is caught and why it is unsustainable. He doesn't use scare tactics about mercury or dolphins dying or anything like that. He uses hard numbers given by the scientists of what should be caught and then interviews the fishermen and from their own words tells us how much of what they do catch is illegal size of over quota. Frankly I am surprised we have any fi ...more
Alan
Aug 09, 2010 Alan rated it it was amazing
Charles Clover tackles a topic in "The End of the Line" that for most people on the planet, especially in developed nations, is an out-of-sight, out-of-mind issue - i.e., the current (deplorable) status of global marine fisheries and global marine fisheries practices and policies.

The lead quote on the front cover of the book states, "The maritime equivalent of Silent Spring" - THE INDEPENDENT. In some ways I think that quote is right. Here's why.

"Silent Spring" addressed an issue - the widespr
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Christopher Rex
May 30, 2010 Christopher Rex rated it it was amazing
Shelves: must-reads
When we sit down for what we think is a "healthy" and "eco-friendly" plate of fish, many of us may be eating the equivalent of Black Rhino, Mountain Gorilla or Bengal Tiger and not even know it. Add a fat dose of mercury and you are damaging both the planet and yourself - possibly irreversibly. Tuna-fish may be "dolphin friendly" but it is an environmental wrecking-ball for all sorts of (endangered or other) life - both plant & animal. Our current system of fishing is widely unsustainable an ...more
Elizabeth
Sep 22, 2009 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
If you care about the oceans, this is a book that I think everyone should read.

This is just one of those books that makes you both incredibly angry about a problem and leaves you feeling pretty hopeless about how that problem might be solved.

This book leaves you angry at the amount of destruction that is taking place in our oceans as we overfish to feed our growing appetites. The problem of fisheries seems like the perfect storm of conditions to create some pretty massive extinctions. Scientists
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Penny
Oct 10, 2009 Penny rated it really liked it
Mindy said this was a good book, someone else I know said it was a good book. By the end of the second disc I was wondering what on earth this book could tell me. There seemed to be one study with brains and rats right after another. Rats who eat too much, rats who eat just enough, MRI scans of brains showing this area or that area responding to this or that stimulus....oh my gosh over and over.

I stuck with it because two people I know had said it was worth reading. In the last disc (chapter 41)
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Loraine
Jul 12, 2012 Loraine rated it really liked it
Everyone needs to read this book. Charles Clover, a UK environmental reporter, researched the state of fishing on the high seas and the condition of the world's fisheries. All the food fish that have sustained human beings are 90% depleted, and the lawless nature of the high seas lends itself to unsustainable fishing practices. Technology has outpaced the ability to manage its use, and as a result the commercial fishing fleet is on its way causing extinction of fish like bluefin tuna or toothfis ...more
Lis
Jan 29, 2010 Lis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very few books can be qualified as "life-changing". Probably most people will never read a truly life-changing book. It's an over-used book jacket epithet.
But, for me, Charles Clover's essay on the industrial, short-sighted over-exploitation of a precious, complex and oft-forgotten eco-system (the oceans) has been life-changing. There's a definite before and after. Even if you're already vaguely aware of the issues surrounding over-fishing, the threat to blue fin tuna or the collapse of North At
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Gustine
Aug 06, 2009 Gustine rated it did not like it

I tried so hard with this one because the topic is important and I wanted to learn whatever it was he had to say.... in fact I almost succeeded in finishing (got to within 30 pages of the end) but I was forced to skim; I just couldn't read every word anymore. Such dry writing. He didn't bring any of these fish to life! Where are the descriptions of what the fish are like in their natural habitat? To care about them we need them brought to life. Drawings would have added greatly; I have no idea w
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Julia
Jul 22, 2010 Julia rated it really liked it
Definitely thought provoking and concern inducing. The book was selected as the main component of the summer assignment for a course I teach; it definitely offers a lot of material for classroom discussion. For the environmentally-conscious recreational reader, you should know that the author is a British journalist and as such the writing style is a bit unique. The chapters take an interesting angle on the issues and include a fair amount of data for those who like to evaluate the impact of num ...more
Susan
Aug 07, 2010 Susan rated it liked it
This is really, as I've seen it described, an expose of the fishing industries of the world. There was a significant bias to the issue- certainly more than I care for- but on the side of what I'll term "good" (i.e., protecting natural resources, and not just the fish stocks but marine ecosystems in general) so guess I'll let that slide. I honestly didn't really find it an enjoyable read and about halfway through was finding it somewhat tiresome with its continuous statistics and sturm und drang. ...more
Greening USiena
(da Amazon.it)
Una ricerca documentata, frutto di viaggi e inchieste svolte per tredici anni in tutto il mondo, in cui l'autore spiega perché il pesce che consumiamo, contrabbandato come salvezza per la cattiva coscienza alimentare di un Occidente stanco di cibi contraffatti e di mucche pazze, sia in realtà il prodotto di un'industria micidiale per l'ambiente e l'umanità. Come per l'acqua, si tende a pensare che il pesce sia inesauribile, ma in realtà oltre all'inquinamento dei mari, i metodi del
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Kyla
Dec 27, 2015 Kyla rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: environmentalists, anyone who thinks environmentalists are liberal conspirators
I read snippets a couple years ago for a report. I found it very interesting, well-written and researched, and it gave me a more active concern for the oceans. I stopped reading at finals time and still haven't picked it back up, but the 50-100 pages I read were really great. I think it's got the potential to get readers who have a vague or undeveloped concern about overfishing to develop a real understanding of the problem and take an activist stance against it. I am not a conservation scientis ...more
Carly
Jan 31, 2016 Carly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a disturbing but excellent insight into overfishing and how much we've already lost. It has stayed with me long after completing the book.
Rose Van Grinsven
Jan 12, 2015 Rose Van Grinsven rated it it was amazing
This well-written book will open your eyes to the horrific present-day commercial fishing practices and how they developed over the years.
J.T.
May 17, 2015 J.T. rated it really liked it
The book has a European frame of reference, but addresses fishery issues worldwide. The information is fairly current (2005-ish) and thoughtfully presents the complexities of fisheries, culture, human tendencies and different regulatory approaches and their shortcomings. While the outlook is bleak, biological organisms are tenacious and given enough opportunity, perhaps humans can figure out how to take better control of our own bad tendencies and make progress. Well written, well researched, up ...more
Kate
Apr 14, 2014 Kate rated it liked it
Great info! A must read for fish eaters.
Aaron
Apr 20, 2008 Aaron rated it really liked it
Don't eat most ocean fish! We're overfishing the entire ocean. THE ENTIRE OCEAN. Water covers over 70% of the Earth's surface and has abundant life, and humans are busily baking it all to feed our growing population. Environmentally destructive factory fishing techniques are not only decimating wildlife populations in our oceans, but are destroying the habitat this life relies on in order to recover from being hunted and harvested. We are collectively idiots when it comes to sustainable ocean fi ...more
Siobhan
Feb 21, 2011 Siobhan rated it really liked it
Shelves: environment, fishing, 2011
Dry at times, but well worth the read for those interested in fisheries management. For those who aren't as interested, I'd recommend Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food instead as it's a faster, more accessible read.
Susan
Sep 26, 2011 Susan rated it really liked it
Shelves: food
This is a stunning book in terms of content...I may never eat tuna again. A heartbreaking overview of the state of (over)fishing in the world's oceans and the lack of coordinated attention/regulation that has permitted the collapse of fisheries around the world.

The style, though, is a little dull. I found myself skimming quite a bit past the first few chapters.
Matthew
Jul 09, 2015 Matthew marked it as gave-up
This is the second time I have tried to read this book. It is an utterly depressing book about how humans have wiped out most of the fish in the world. Perhaps for people who still eat fish, this would be a really good book. However, I don't eat fish anymore, in large part because of the collapse of fish species caused by humans.
My Bookshelf
Aug 19, 2010 My Bookshelf rated it liked it
Read this during the summer of 2010. At the time, I was struggling once again to remain true to vegetarian eating principles, and this gave me some added inspiration. I wanted to learn more about how the growing human appetite for fish was wreaking havoc throughout the world's oceans.
Saraes
Aug 11, 2009 Saraes rated it it was amazing
Fantastic! Ever the environmentalist, this book changed my view on my favorite thing about this planet--the ocean. It also changed the way I eat fish. This is a MUST read for every one who takes a bite of the ocean daily, weekly, monthly, yearly.
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Charles Clover is a journalist and author, with a weekly column about environmental matters in the Sunday Times.
He was Environment Editor of The Daily Telegraph, based in London, from 1988-2008 and conceived the Telegraph Earth website and developed it with a small, talented team of other journalists.
He has been elected national journalist of the year by the British Environment and Media Awards th
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“The scariest thing is that nobody seems to be considering the impact on those wild fish of fish farming on the scale that is now being proposed on the coast of Norway or in the open ocean off the United States. Fish farming, even with conventional techniques, changes fish within a few generations from an animal like a wild buffalo or a wildebeest to the equivalent of a domestic cow.

Domesticated salmon, after several generations, are fat, listless things that are good at putting on weight, not swimming up fast-moving rivers. When they get into a river and breed with wild fish, they can damage the wild fish's prospects of surviving to reproduce. When domesticated fish breed with wild fish, studies indicate the breeding success initially goes up, then slumps as the genetically different offspring are far less successful at returning to the river. Many of the salmon in Norwegian rivers, which used to have fine runs of unusually large fish, are now of farmed origin. Domesticated salmon are also prone to potentially lethal diseases, such as infectious salmon anemia, which has meant many thousands have had to be quarantined or killed. They are also prone to the parasite Gyrodactylus salaris, which has meant that whole river systems in Norway have had to be poisoned with the insecticide rotenone and restocked.”
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“I believe citizens are beginning to realize that their birthright, a healthy ecosystem, has been stolen, and they want it back.” 3 likes
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