November 19, 2007

Book Review - Unnatural History of the Sea

The Unnatural History of the Sea
Callum Roberts
CB 465 .R63 2007

Roberts' deceptively simple title hides the controversy that this book might stir among some readers. He aligns his primary focus, fishing, to the historical trends of exploration and the industrial revolution, giving the reader a chronological perspective on how we have reached present-day conditions regarding fish populations. Roberts first ten chapters focus around the age of exploration. He characterizes this period as exploitation as he examines fishing as a profession and business and looks specifically at a few individual species and fishing regions. The next ten chapters analyze the results of earlier exploitation and add the complications of modern technology, natural disasters, and environmental damage. In the last five chapters, Roberts' addresses changes necessary to preserve fish and ocean habitats in general. These are not limited to fishing management, but reach more widely into areas of social change and environmental consciousness. This book is thoroughly researched and would be valuable for those interested in environmentalism and the roles of commerce and natural resources in history.