This is a tale of human obsession, one intrepid tuna, the dedicated fisherman who caught and set her free, the promises and limits of ocean science and the big truth of how our insatiable appetite for bluefin transformed a cottage industry into a global dilemma.
In 2004, an enigmatic charter captain named Al Anderson caught and marked one Atlantic bluefin tuna off New England's coast with a plastic fish tag. Fourteen years later that fish – dubbed Amelia for her ocean-spanning journeys – died in a Mediterranean fish trap, sparking Karen Pinchin's riveting investigation into the marvels, struggles, and prehistoric legacy of this remarkable species.
Over his fishing career Al marked more than sixty thousand fish with plastic tags, an obsession that made him nearly as many enemies as it did friends. His quest landed him in the crossfire of an ongoing fight between a booming bluefin tuna industry and desperate conservation efforts, a conflict that is once again heating up as overfishing and climate change threaten the fish's fate.
Kings of Their Own Ocean is an urgent investigation that combines science, business, crime, and environmental justice. As Pinchin writes, 'as a global community, we are collectively only ever a few terrible choices away from wiping out any ocean species'. Through her exclusive access and interdisciplinary, mesmerizing lens, readers will join her on boats and docks as she visits tuna hot spots and scientists from Portugal to Japan, New Jersey to Nova Scotia, and glimpse, as the author does, rays of dazzling hope for the future of our oceans.
Karen Pinchin is an award-winning journalist specializing in investigative and long-form reporting. She was most recently the 2019/2020 Tow Fellow at PBS FRONTLINE at WGBH and is now based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. For more than a decade she has worked as both a staff and freelance reporter and editor specializing in food systems and science journalism. In 2019, Karen graduated from Columbia’s Journalism School with a Master of Arts in science journalism and won the school’s Lynton Fellowship for Book Writing.
"Pinchin has written pathos, poetry and adrenaline into a story about one of the most famed and endangered sea creatures on the planet: the bluefin tuna. Not easy to get the science right while making the reporting riveting. But she did. And the candor in the personal back story to this lifelong interest in tuna and the ocean also gives the book just the right amount of feel as a memoir. Well worth the read."
– Ian Urbina, The Outlaw Ocean Project