Also in this issue is a Q&A with author Mark Kurlansky, whose 1997 international bestseller Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World is a seminal work of non-fiction about overfishing.
I spoke to him about his new book, The World Without Fish: How Kids Can Help Save the Oceans, which explains the current crisis in the oceans in easy-to-digest language and graphics, and outlines how kids can help.
What inspired you to write The World Without Fish?
MK: I’ve been writing about fish for many years. I talk to kids about it a lot and I noticed a few things. They are tremendously interested, partly because kids just really like fish. We’re raising a generation with a great sense of environmental urgency; they want to know about these things. It’s a very complicated thing, much more complicated than it’s often presented. Consequently, kids are perplexed about what’s going on. So I thought I would explain it.
Has your daughter read the book? Is she interested in ocean issues?
MK: Yes, she has. It’s a very ambitious book for kids, and I wanted to know about anything she found difficult or hard to understand. She’s really into it. She’s my fishing buddy. We spend our summers in Gloucester fishing for striper.
What do you hope kids (and adults) take from your book?
I’d like them to appreciate the complexity of the issue to understand that it’s not that people aren’t doing anything -- a lot’s being done, but they’re still struggling to figure out what works. I wouldn’t mind them coming away with a little respect for fishermen and their struggles with the issue. This all can be turned around and if it isn’t, it will be a huge disaster.
The following guest blog from journalist and ocean activist David Helvarg is an excerpt from his latest book, “Saved by the Sea - A Love Story with Fish”
Recently I flew from California to Washington to ride on one of the Coast Guard's big icebreakers heading north. As I looked down at the snowcapped northern California mountain ranges they reminded me of great white-capped ocean waves.
Actually they're not unlike waves in geological terms, bridging up across the landscape, surfing the magma where the Pacific and North American tectonic plates collide and subside beneath them. Mountains are the rippling breakers of the planet, though functioning in a timeframe that make our species seem as transitory as mayflies or molecules. Only evolutionarily hardened marine life such as horseshoe crabs and Nautilus have been around long enough to see mountain ranges rise up and erode away again.