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

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  505 ratings  ·  50 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
Hardcover, 386 pages
Published November 13th 2006 by The New Press (first published 2004)
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Kerri Anne
This book doesn't mince words, so I won't mince mine for this review.

Fact(s): There are too many humans on this earth for any of us to pretend like we can eat what we want, when we want, and otherwise behave as if we aren't one of BILLIONS of humans currently occupying (I wanted to write "infesting") the earth. Our populations are not shrinking, but the earth's resources most certainly are.

The problem (as I + this book + many books perpetually see it): Capitalism (see also: the monopolistic gr
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 whi
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
You’ll have fish coming out of your ears with this one. The many types of fish, the history and future of fish, catching fish, not catching fish, who catches fish, the regulations and laws of fishing, who eats which fish, who cooks them, endangered fishes, abundant fishes, sad stories about fish, hopeful thought about fish.

There’s condemnation here of the culinary world, of celebrity chefs like Nobuyuki Matsuhisa (of the “Nobu” chain of restaurants), Gordon Ramsey, etc. and the celebrities who p
Jun 11, 2007 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.
Apr 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Clover's book is just as relevant today as it was 15 years ago. With 80% of our fish stocks fully exploited, overexploited, or on the brink of collapse, this is essential reading for the average consumer. The very first paragraph brings to attention the difference in value we place on creatures on land versus the sea:
Imagine what people would say if a band of hunters strung a mile of net between two immense all-terrain vehicles and dragged it at speed across the plains of Africa. This fantastica
Jun 28, 2011 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
Feb 23, 2011 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
Dec 02, 2010 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
Oct 19, 2013 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.
Jun 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
An essential book for anyone who is serious.
Richard Reese
Mar 22, 2015 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
Cintain 昆遊龍
Apr 04, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, nature
Amazing in its scope and depth of research, and infuriating in its droll presentation of the facts of the existential disaster that is commercial fishing, this book is nonetheless an urgent read for anyone who lives on this planet and cares for it to continue sustaining life in the future.
It’s from 2004, so many of the topics discussed have evolved to even more dire straits, but the amount of research in this book makes it continuously valuable. The Netflix documentary “Seaspiracy” touches on m
Oct 08, 2020 rated it liked it
A chilling depiction of the amount of overfishing we've been doing and, without intervention, will continue to do, until we run out of fish. Clover bounces all over the world in a very documentary style fashion, going from small fishing villages in Iceland, to the fish markets of Japan and Spain, to the offices of the EU, to fish preserves in New Zealand, documenting the failures and successes across the globe - mostly failures. He levels accusations against the scientists and politicians who fa ...more
Drew Davis
Jan 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
A great book for anyone interested in knowing where our food comes. It's very sobering at times to realize that we essential draining the planet of all its resources.

This book is one of the prime relapses I cite for why I don't eat fish and meat.
Noura Al Fadhli
Sep 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An insight to the horrific world of fisheries across the globe and the future of fish if we do not act now.

The studies, facts, books and statistics stated in this book are eye-opening and undoubtly terrifying but definitely worthwhile.

Jan 19, 2021 marked it as to-read
Like 98% certain this is related to the “End of the Line” documentary since Clover is involved in both (unsure which came first).

While I’ve seen that film probably 7 or more times through my schooling, it never ceases to move me. SO I’m ready for it in book version
Aug 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A book that learnt me a lot and boosted my respect for marine ecosystems. It documented lively and undeniably the global disaster caused by over-fishing, bad or lack of regulation. The version I read would be a bit outdated today though, I do not know if there is a newer version of it.
Jan 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Interesting expose on the impact of a shift away from meat and potatoes towards fish and chips on the broader marine ecosystem.
Aug 09, 2010 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
Jun 11, 2009 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
Christopher Rex
May 25, 2010 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 and ou ...more
Jan 22, 2013 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
Oct 10, 2009 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)
Jun 20, 2012 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
Jan 24, 2010 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
Aug 06, 2009 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
Jul 22, 2010 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
Aug 03, 2010 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
Jul 14, 2009 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
Apr 20, 2008 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
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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

News & Interviews

  As dedicated readers already know, some of the best and most innovative stories on the shelves come from the constantly evolving realm of...
39 likes · 1 comments
“Celebrity chefs are the leaders in the field of food, and we are the led. Why should the leaders of chemical businesses be held responsible for polluting the marine environment with a few grams of effluent, which is sublethal to marine species, while celebrity chefs are turning out endangered fish at several dozen tables a night without enduring a syllable of criticism?” 4 likes
“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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