World Without Fish

Mark Kurlansky, illus. by Frank Stockton. Workman, $16.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-7611-5607-9
Kurlansky (The Cod's Tale) offers an urgent account of the problems that threaten the world's oceans and could result in the commercial extinction of key species of fish in the next 50 years. It's an alarming statement, underscored by the book's design: on most pages, key sentences (and sometimes not-so-key ones) appear in an enormous, all-caps font, the typographical equivalent of a fire alarm ("THIS IS CALLED A SUSTAINABLE FISHERY. THIS IS THE REAL ANSWER TO OVERFISHING"). Kurlansky opens by outlining the problem—overfishing is resulting in "a massive shifting in the natural order of the planet"—before discussing the cultural, political, and industrial factors that have led to current conditions. Sidebars profile various fish as well as key historical moments, and the narrative is further broken up by comic book panels that tell the earnest story of Kram, a fictional scientist, and his daughter, Ailat, who witness the very destruction Kurlansky describes, as species vanish and the oceans turn slimy and orange with the resurgence of algae and krill. It's a dire vision, and Kurlansky's few suggestions (support sustainable fishing, become an activist) may not be much comfort. Ages 10–up. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/21/2011
Release date: 04/01/2011
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