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Fish bones in the caves of East Timor reveal that humans have systematically fished the seas for at least 42,000 years. But in recent centuries, our ancient, vital relationship with the oceans has changed faster than the tides. As boats and fishing technology have evolved, traditional fishermen have been challenged both at sea and in the marketplace by large-scale fishing companies whose lower overhead and greater efficiency guarantee lower prices. In Fishing Lessons, Kevin M. Bailey captains a voyage through the deep history and present course of this sea change – a change that has seen species depleted, ecosystems devastated, and artisanal fisheries transformed into a global industry afloat with hundreds of billions of dollars per year.
Bailey knows these waters, the artisanal fisheries, and their relationship with larger ocean ecology intimately. In a series of place-based portraits, he shares stories of decline and success as told by those at the ends of the long lines and hand lines, channeling us through the changing dynamics of small-scale fisheries and the sustainability issues they face – both fiscal and ecological. We encounter Paolo Vespoli and his tiny boat, the Giovanni Padre,in the Gulf of Naples; Wenche, a sea Sámi, one of the indigenous fisherwomen of Norway; and many more. From salmon to abalone, the Bay of Fundy to Monterey and the Amazon, Bailey's catch is no fish tale. It is a global story, casting a net across waters as vast and distinct as Puget Sound and the Chilean coast. Sailing across the world, Bailey explores the fast-shifting current of how we gather food from the sea, what we gain and what we lose with these shifts, and potential solutions for the murky passage ahead.
1. The Giovanni Padre: The Sun Sets on Small-Scale Fisheries in the Gulf of Naples
2. The King Is Dead: The Collapse and Resurrection of Vosso Salmon
3. Ode to the Sea: Chile’s Troubled Fisheries
Loss and Recovery of Indigenous Fisheries
4. The First Fish: The Coast Salish Salmon Fishery
5. Northern Lights: The Sea Sámi Fishery in Norway
Return to Artisanal
6. A Clean and Green Fishery: Legoe Bay Reefnets
7. Crimson Tide: The Bay of Fundy Weir Fishery and a Conflict with Green Power
8. A Dying Fishery? Puget Sound Keta Salmon
Striking a Balance in Aqua Farming
9. Mother of Pearl: Ocean Farming Red Abalone in Monterey Bay
10. King of the Amazon: Culture and Harvest of Arapaima
11. Evolving Solutions
Kevin M. Bailey is the founding director of the Man & Sea Institute, affiliate professor at the University of Washington, and was formerly a senior scientist at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center. He is the author of Billion-Dollar Fish: The Untold Story of Alaska Pollock and The Western Flyer: Steinbeck's Boat, the Sea of Cortez, and the Saga of Pacific Fisheries, both also published by the University of Chicago Press.
"Fishing Lessons uses diverse, unique examples of small fisheries from all over the world to illustrate the challenges artisanal fishermen face in the current fishery management regime and global seafood market. Bailey's well-told, relatable stories of visits and dialogues with individual fishermen, of cooking and eating seafood, as well as his thorough descriptions of historical context really help readers to place a social value on the profession itself. Filled with lots of new information about seafood and how it is produced, Fishing Lessons will appeal to foodies and fans of Deadliest Catch as well as to folks interested in the sustainability of food, food security, locally sourced foods, the traceability of food, and organic foods – and in the natural history of the oceans."
– Jon Warrenchuk, senior scientist and campaign manager, Oceana