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

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  463 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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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
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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 whi
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Daniel
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.
Sarah
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
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John
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
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dara
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
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Doug
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
Phillip
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.
Joseph
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
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.

Recommended.
Alan
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
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Elizabeth
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
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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
Elizabeth
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
Penny
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)
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Loraine
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
Lis
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
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Gustine
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
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Julia
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
Susan
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
Kyla
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
Aaron
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
Matthew
Jun 23, 2009 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.
Siobhan
Feb 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011, environment, fishing
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. ...more
Susan
Sep 21, 2011 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.
Rob
Feb 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: always-present
as someone who works in the industry this book was a good eye opener into the other versions of the fisheries issue in other countries. a bit sad to read at times but overall a good read. this was the US version.
Pam
Jun 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is an eye-opener for anyone concerned about the environment and the food they put into their bodies. I especially liked the global view of the situation in the oceans and how they interact rather than just one specific location.
My Bookshelf
Aug 19, 2010 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.
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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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“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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