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December 21 , 2008

The Last Fish Tale

The Fate of the Atlantic and our Disappearing Fisheries


Will most of the major fisheries of the world be exhausted by 2048, as has been claimed? Have the number of large fish in the ocean decreased by 90 per cent over the past 50 years, as has been asserted by a respected scientist? Are 60 per cent of the fish species studied by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation either fully exploited or depleted, as one of their reports attests? Fishing at sea, an ancient trade and a way of life that has defined coastal towns throughout history, may be coming to an end. The culture and traditions of coastal Britain and of seagoing nations everywhere are now threatened with extinction.

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The conventional history of nations, even continents, is a history of warfare. According to this view, all the important ideas and significant changes of humankind occured as part of an effort to win one violent, bloody conflict or another. But there have always been a few who refused to fight. Following the grand sweep of history from Confucius…

In his most important book yet, Mark Kurlansky - the celebrated author of Cod, Salt and The Big Oyster - explores the fate of our oceans and the decline of our most ancient coastal enterprise. The Last Fish Tale sends up a timely distress flare but one which brilliantly illuminates a colourful, exuberant and poignant landscape, from Newlyn in Cornwall to Gloucester in Massachusetts - a fishing village first settled by Englishmen in the early 1600s. The result is a cultural, economic, environmental and culinary bouillabaisse - the most compelling fish tale of our time.

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