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Hooked: Pirates, Poaching, and the Perfect Fishby G Bruce Knecht
Synopses & Reviews
Alaska pollock is everywhere. If youandrsquo;re eating fish but you donandrsquo;t know what kind it is, itandrsquo;s almost certainly pollock. Prized for its generic fish taste, pollock masquerades as crab meat in california rolls and seafood salads, and it feeds millions as fish sticks in school cafeterias and Filet-O-Fish sandwiches at McDonaldandrsquo;s. That ubiquity has made pollock the most lucrative fish harvest in Americaandmdash;the fishery in the United States alone has an annual value of over one billion dollars. But even as the money rolls in, pollock is in trouble: in the last few years, the pollock population has declined by more than half, and some scientists are predicting the fisheryandrsquo;s eventual collapse.
In Billion-Dollar Fish, Kevin M. Bailey combines his years of firsthand pollock research with a remarkable talent for storytelling to offer the first natural history of Alaska pollock. Crucial to understanding the pollock fishery, he shows, is recognizing what aspects of its natural history make pollock so very desirable to fish, while at the same time making it resilient, yet highly vulnerable to overfishing. Bailey delves into the science, politics, and economics surrounding Alaska pollock in the Bering Sea, detailing the development of the fishery, the various political machinations that have led to its current management, and, perhaps most important, its impending demise. He approaches his subject from multiple angles, bringing in the perspectives of fishermen, politicians, environmentalists, and biologists, and drawing on revealing interviews with players who range from Greenpeace activists to fishing industry lawyers.
Seamlessly weaving the biology and ecology of pollock with the history and politics of the fishery, as well as Baileyandrsquo;s own often raucous tales about life at sea, Billion-Dollar Fish is a book for every person interested in the troubled relationship between fish and humans, from the depths of the sea to the dinner plate.
"The Patagonian toothfish — which can live up to 50 years and grow to six feet long — is an ugly creature considered too bland for eating by most South Americans. Its high fat content, codlike texture and lack of a fishy taste convinced a Los Angeles fish merchant who found the toothfish in Chile in 1977 that, given an exotic new name, it would do quite well in America. By 1998, 'Chilean sea bass' had become the hottest restaurant craze: '[e]veryone had to have it.' Knecht (The Proving Ground) weaves a parallel plot, which takes place in the South Indian Ocean in 2003, where an Australian patrol boat is hunting down a pirate vessel for stealing toothfish. The chase takes them thousands of nautical miles away to dangerous Antarctic waters and involves South African mercenaries and a dramatic boarding in dangerous seas. Knecht's gripping book flips between the commercial history of the toothfish — just the latest of many culinary fads that end up threatening an ocean species — and the chase, which illuminates the practically lawless world of commercial fishing, where factory boats with vast dragnets can devastate a population in just a couple of years, a practice the author calls 'the marine equivalent of strip mining.' First serial in the Wall Street Journal. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
This modern pirate yarn has all the makings of a great true adventure tale and explores the ways our culinary tastes have all manner of unintended consequences for the world around us. Hooked tells the story of the poaching of the Patagonian toothfish (known to Americans as "Chilean Sea Bass") and is built around the pursuit of the illegal fishing vessel Viarsa by an Australian patrol boat, Southern Supporter, in one of the longest pursuits in maritime history.
Author G. Bruce Knecht chronicles how an obscure fish merchant in California "discovered" and renamed the fish, kicking off a worldwide craze for a fish no one had ever heard of and everyone had to have. With demand exploding, pirates were only too happy to satisfy our taste for Chilean Sea Bass. From the world's most treacherous waters to its most fabulous kitchens, Hooked is at once a thrilling tale and a revelatory popular history that will appeal to a diverse group of readers. Think The Hungry Ocean meets Kitchen Confidential.
About the Author
G. BRUCE KNECHT is a writer for the Wall Street Journal. His work has also been published in The Atlantic Monthly and the New York Times Magazine.
Table of Contents
Prologue: Fishing Lessons
1and#160;Introduction: White Gold Fever
2and#160;A Historical Background: From an Inexhaustible Ocean to the Three-Mile Limit
3and#160;Fishing the High Seas: Japan and the Soviet Union Develop the Harvest of Pollock in the Bering Sea
4and#160;Americanization! The Rush for White Gold and the Developing Fishery
5and#160;An Empty Donut Hole: The Great Collapse of a North Pacific Pollock Stock
6and#160;Viking Invasion: Norwayand#8217;s Link to the Pollock Industry
7and#160;A New Fish on the Block: Advancing Knowledge of Pollock Biology
8and#160;A New Ocean: Changing Concepts of Ocean Production and Management of Fisheries
9and#160;Factories of Doom: The Pollock Fishing Industry Clashes with the Environment
10and#160;All in the Family: Olympic Fishing and Domestic Strife in the Industry
11and#160;Bridge over Troubled Water: Tranquility after the American Fisheries Act
12and#160;Alaska Pollockand#8217;s Challenging Future
Appendix A: Terminology
Appendix B: Other Abbreviations
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