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Hooked: Pirates, Poaching, and the Perfect Fish

3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  245 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
This modern pirate yarn has all the makings of a great true adventure tale and explores the ways our culinary tastes have all manner of unintended consequences for the world around us. Hooked tells the story of the poaching of the Patagonian toothfish (known to Americans as "Chilean Sea Bass") and is built around the pursuit of the illegal fishing vessel Viarsa by an Austr ...more
Paperback, 328 pages
Published May 1st 2007 by Rodale Books (first published 2006)
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An Island to Oneself by Tom NealeLucky Goes to Sea by Frank RobsonVoyaging with Kids by Behan Gifford30,000 Leagues Undersea by Tom VetterThree Ways to Capsize a Boat by Chris  Stewart
Island and Boating Non-Fiction
12th out of 13 books — 5 voters
Patagonia, La Ultima Esperanza by Macduff EvertonOn the Blue Shore of Silence by Pablo Neruda50 Classic Ski Descents Of North America by Chris DavenportThe Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanConfessions of an Eco-Warrior by Dave Foreman
Patagonia's Favorite Books
20th out of 27 books — 1 voter

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May 18, 2015 Ross rated it liked it
The subtitle contains what I consider very promising ingredients for lively but serious nonfiction: Pirates, Poaching, and the Perfect Fish. The book is about the story of the rise and fall of the Chilean Sea Bass (aka Patagonian tooth fish) as told through the lens of a single boat that attracted international media attention. The author does an excellent job of showing how little we really know about the fish that we eat. There's also an important story here about professions, like fisheries m ...more
May 10, 2009 Esmeralda rated it liked it
Shelves: politics
This book explores the politics of fishing in the vast ocean. Who owns the water why and to what extent. It chronicles pirates lives (not so glamourous), sea patrol, chefs, activists, and a dash of courtroom drama. The main event is an Australian ship pursuing pirates into the Arctic ocean. The book is a call to action in favor of sea regulation and conservation. It does show a bit of sympathy for the fisherman who sees poaching as a birthright. But, when I think about the lose of whales that ma ...more
Jim Good
The book is broken into three distinct story lines that are switched indiscriminately between chapters. The most compelling story line is the individual chase, capture and trail of suspected fishing pirates by Australian Fishery officials. This story has many components from the pursuit of boats in international waters all the way to the frustrations of proving in court that a piracy act actually occurred. The cooperation between Australia and South Africa to take control of a rogue boat on the ...more
Aug 30, 2012 Eric_W rated it it was amazing
This book reads like an adventure story. Knecht recounts the true story of an Australian Fisheries patrol boat chase of a pirate fishing vessel that had been taking Patagonian toothfish (commercially known as Chilean Sea Bass - how the name change occurred is also part of this story) illegally off Heard Island. The chase went on for weeks through incredibly bad weather and under the most difficult legal conditions. The ship was finally boarded with the help of the South African Navy and then sai ...more
Mar 13, 2010 Tim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This book is a terrific read, a non fiction tome that reads like fiction.
The manipulation of a species to satisfy the commercial leanings of the restaurant trade. The "invention" of the euphamistic "Chillean Sea Bass" to cover the tracks.
A death defying chase half way around the world in the worst weather and the planet's most dangerous ocean.
A story of massive risks, massive profits the cheapness of human life and sea life at the same time.
The morals of looking after a species that few really
Nov 03, 2007 Brenda rated it really liked it
Riveting story! Unlike any story, this truly happened.
I was assigned this book on a class, so I would of never come accross it. It is a very exciting/sad book about man's greed at whatever cost, in this case an endangered species (Patagonian toothfish) .It is an adventure story about the pursuit of poachers through Antartica. The book also explains how this species was discovered and came to be the "perfect fish" for the market. High demand and the fish's ecology ultimately led the fish stocks
Jul 25, 2011 Niall519 rated it really liked it
Reading this made me mad. Really mad. The combinations of short-sightedness, seflishness, ignorance and greed displayed by some of the poachers, and the fish and restaurant industries behind them is hard to take.

I had a few qualms about the author's approach to the story, especially when appearing to quote people directly, but the afterword outlines a lot of his research process and sources. I'm still left a little dubious over descriptions of conversations and events that happened twenty years
Aug 20, 2009 Ashley rated it it was amazing
I loved this book!! This came to my attention via NPR -- they have the best book reviews/discussion -- anyway, back to my review ... I had no idea about the perils of over-fishing. I just assumed that eating fish was better than beef. Also, I had no clue that the fish called Chilean Sea Bass was in danger of extinction. I must say, before the book I yummied down on some sea bass and ordered it whenever I saw it on a menu. Now, I have not eaten it since the book -- what an eye opener!! Lest y'all ...more
Lee Belbin
Dec 01, 2014 Lee Belbin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the best reads - about illegal toothfish industry
Feb 15, 2009 Matt rated it really liked it
It is amazingly hard to find good stories about fishing, but this one's pretty good. In 2003, an Australian patrol boat chased an illegal toothfish vessel nearly 4,000 miles before the crew surrendered. It wasn't exactly a high-speed chase, but that gives plenty of room for Knecht to write a nice story about the pursuit and the wacky rise of Patagonian toothfish, aka Chilean sea bass, to culinary fame.
Dec 07, 2011 Kenno82 rated it really liked it
Fantastic book. Best summed up by Knecht himself, "this is, quite simply, a remarkable story and one that involves all of the most important issues that face on of mankind's oldest industries". I should add that it's a remarkable story in the hands of Knecht. Others would not have done the story justice. Much like Proving Ground, Knecht looks for more in the story than what first appears.
Oct 31, 2007 Liza rated it it was amazing
This book was fantastic, I bought it for my husband, picked it up to read and never put it down. It opens your eyes to how we as a global economy destroy and deplete are resources until we are forced, by government regulation, to moderate our behaviors. The book is obviously specific to fishing but you watch the news and see how the same behavior applies to almost every resource out there.
Brian Moore
Oct 10, 2012 Brian Moore rated it really liked it
Feel like seafood tonight? How about some Patagonian Toothfish? I didn't think so. That's why they renamed it Chilean Sea Bass. Fascinating story of how that happened, and what happened next, leading to an exciting chase across the far south seas as a fisheries cop tracks down a commercial fishing pirate in violation of international treaties protecting the species.
Nov 25, 2007 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're interested in what's happened to the commercial species of fish in our oceans over the last hundred years, this is a great read. It was fascinating to me how a consumption demand for a given fish is created and then the species is fished out. Then, a new fish is pushed on the western world and it is, in turn, fished out. That pattern cannot last forever.
Apr 17, 2007 Charly rated it it was amazing
I know this books seems like an odd topic to be so entertaining (Chilean sea bass) but it's a captivating story! The author mixes the history of Chilean sea bass as a coveted meat and the true story of a real-live pirate chase all through the waters of Antarctica and the southern half of the world. Take a Pass on Chilean Sea Bass!
Feb 21, 2012 Rhona rated it really liked it
An extremely interesting read. The author manages to make an interesting story even more fun. Even though the story line is non-fiction, it reads with the fun of fiction. A quick read that you won't want to put down.

The author manages to understand and explain the difficulties of fisheries from a few well researched sides.
Paul L'Herrou
Sep 27, 2010 Paul L'Herrou rated it really liked it
Fascinating book if you are interested in fishing or preserving the ocean environment. Intersperses true story of Australian patrol boat chasing fish pirates with explanations of how the Patagonian toothfish became the popular Chilean seabass and then fished almost to extinction and continues to be smuggled into the US.
Aug 25, 2008 Lee rated it really liked it
A story within a story. A hugh chase after fish pirates, but what I liked more was the history of the Patagonian tooth fish aka Chilean sea bass and how it went from practically worthless to "THE" item on expensive restaurants. Also how people made lots of $$ and a history of how we have fished species to near extinction.
Nov 11, 2007 Syd rated it liked it
Shelves: science
This was an adventure tale that had a sound environmental message: what we are doing to fisheries all around the world. This was an easy read and I learned a lot regarding different species that have been overfished in the past as well as the ones that are being destroyed today.
Dec 21, 2011 Troy rated it liked it
Shelves: environment
An interesting book that explores the health of our oceans in terms of declining fish populations. Much of the book is dedicated to one single poaching event, which is where this book lost a few points from me. Overall, the book is interesting, but relatively narrow in scope.
Feb 05, 2010 Peggy rated it liked it
A true story about the Australian government capturing an illegal fishing boat. Informational about the overfishing and what that does to our environment. I ended up skimming parts due to unnecessary detail, and found the author's use of tense odd in parts.
Dec 02, 2008 Melody rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 11, 2007 Hank rated it really liked it
This was a very good book; exciting like a good novel (but it's non-fiction) and has a lot to say about our global fisheries and the rates at which they are being decimated.
Leah Weiser
Aug 10, 2014 Leah Weiser rated it really liked it
Very informative book about illegal fishing and the history behind why we eat Antarctic toothfish, aka Chilean sea bass. Fast paced and read like a novel!
Dec 01, 2007 Meredith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Interesting read. You learn a lot about overfishing in general and after reading this book you will never want to eat Chilean sea bass again.
Mar 19, 2008 Stefanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
makes you think about the long term consequences of our everyday food choices. ones mans sustainability is another mans paycheck.
Apr 19, 2007 Kendra rated it really liked it
Shelves: dcbookclub
This book made the subjects of conservation and overfishing readily accessible for the average person in a remarkably easy to read style.
Aug 25, 2010 Goatville9 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
when you see chilean sea bass on the menu you'll cry over the exploitation of the patagonia toothfish.
Aug 17, 2010 Kate rated it liked it
About Chilean Sea Bass. Good book highlighting the role of the market in an overfished seafood.
Patrice Brown
Dec 06, 2008 Patrice Brown rated it it was amazing
Such a good non-fiction book! The writing style was so good I felt like I was watching a movie.
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G. Bruce Knecht is a former senior writer and foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. Author of GRAND AMBITION: An Extraordinary Yacht, the People Who Built It, and the Millionaire Who Can't Really Afford It; THE PROVING GROUND: The Inside Story of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Race; and HOOKED: Pirates, Poaching and the Perfect Fish, he has also written for The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yo ...more
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