Sunday, April 2, 2017

Carmel Finley's "All the Boats on the Ocean"

Carmel Finley is a newspaper reporter turned historian of science who teaches in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Oregon State University. She is coeditor of Two Paths toward Sustainable Forests: Public Values in Canada and the United States and author of All the Fish in the Sea: Maximum Sustained Yield and the Failure of Fisheries Management.

Finley applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, All the Boats on the Ocean: How Government Subsidies Led to Global Overfishing, and reported the following:
I was skeptical that a page could sum up a book. And at first I was dismayed at what seemed like one of my duller pages, heavy on detail. But as I thought about it, the page very much does sum up the book; it mentions Iceland, Japan, the United States, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama and Peru, and they are all arguing over fish and who is going to catch them. After World War II, fish wound up at the center of several treaties and trade agreements. The Americans sought to reintegrate Japan back into global trade and to tilt Iceland towards the West. While Japanese canned tuna edged Southern California tuna off supermarket shelves, Canadian and Icelandic cod was displacing New England fish in the booming American market for fish stocks. Enormous fleets of boats with vast nets were appearing in the waters off many nations. The Soviet fleet showed up off the Oregon coast in 1966 and in the space of three years, they decimated a rockfish species, Sebastes alutus, that has yet to recover. I wrote the book because I wanted to understand how the Soviets wound up fishing off Oregon, and what happened to the rockfish. While post-war fisheries expanded quickly, developing an understanding of the complex world of deep-water fish came much more slowly. It has taken decades, but scientists now believe they know how enough about ocean ecosystems to restore fish populations. I hope looking at how overfishing was created opens a space for more attention being paid to government subsidies to build fishing boats.
Visit Carmel Finley's website.

--Marshal Zeringue