How often do you think about ocean fish? Perhaps once a week when you decide to have it for dinner or maybe for two weeks out of the year when you go the shore for vacation. Mark Kurlansky believes we should think about fish a great deal more than that.
As a result of poor commercial fishing practices, pollution, global warming, and food fads, we are losing species of fish at an alarming rate. As early as the mid-nineteenth century some scientists were concerned that our oceans could easily be fished out. But politics, people's livelihoods, and public indifference have maintained the status quo.
In World without Fish, Kurlansky discusses all of these problems and more in a thoughtful, easy-to-understand manner. Although the book is geared to a young audience, Kurlansky has not dumbed-down the language, nor does he discuss serious environmental concerns in a cutesy style. Different fonts, photographs, drawings, a graphic short story, sidebars, and other elements make the text easy and fun to read, but the vocabulary and information are scientific and educational.
The primary message of this short book is that we must make immediate changes to the way in which we harvest fish. Yet Kurlansky is not an alarmist; he's a truth-teller. He is sensitive to and aware of the cultural and economic concerns of commercial fishing. He presents the argument that sustainable fishing--just like sustainable farming--is not only possible but vital to the health of our planet.
After exploring how overfishing came about and many of its long-reaching environmental effects, Kurlansky details several solutions, some of which were proposed centuries ago. He then explains why sustainable fishing may be the best answer. He presents the problems faced by fishermen as well as by environmentalists. He explains the difference between the short-term view and the long-term view. Always, he is respectful.
World without Fish goes beyond environmental awareness by showing readers what they can do to help bring about change. The book contains lists of resources and organizations as well as easy ideas and tips for taking action. Kurlansky gives readers practical advice on how to make a difference when they're at the fish market or in a restaurant.
Highly recommended for readers of any age who want to know more about current environmental issues. Teachers and homeschoolers will find World without Fish to be a welcome addition to their curriculum.
On a personal note, I was happy to see that the little Seafood Watch guide I carry in my purse was featured in World without Fish. In fact, Kurlansky includes an updated copy of the guide in the back of the book. The guide is also available as a phone app at the Seafood Watch website (I've already downloaded it).
To learn more about Mark Kurlansky, visit his website. See also my spotlight of his book Cod and review of his book Salt. This review will be linked to Kid Konnection, hosted by Julie at Booking Mama.
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Published by Workman, April 2011
Source: Review (print & audio) (see review policy)
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