What hope for our over-fished oceans?


Nobody does it quite like the New Yorker. And reporter Elizabeth Kolbert does a lovely job of masking mild panic in this report on our over-fished oceans in the latest edition. But really her piece is a reflection on a centuries old genre of literature, in which writers lament the sea. We're not talking here about Ernest Hemingway on his boat; rather, an ecological tradition. Confused? Try this:

"The new fish stories can be read as parables about technology. What was, once upon a time, a stable relationship between predator and prey was transformed by new “machinery” into a deadly mismatch. This reading isn’t so much wrong as misleading. To paraphrase the old N.R.A. favorite, fads don’t kill fish, people do. In an effort to figure out what ocean life was like before the modern era, marine scientists have, in the past few decades, cored through seafloor sediments, measured the size of fish bones tossed out at ancient banquets, and combed through the logs of early explorers. As Callum Roberts reports in “The Unnatural History of the Sea” (2007), the work suggests that humans have been wreaking havoc in the oceans for centuries."