Charles Clover’s The End of the Line: How Overfishing is Changing the World and What We Eat takes the form of a tour around the world, exploring the fishing practices and realities in diverse oceans, the problems involved and the potential solutions. The outlook it provides is bleak: from the collapse of cod populations in New England’s waters to the contamination of the North Sea, and from the shutting out of developing countries’ fishermen by large scale European trawlers off the coast of Africa to the threats to wild fish populations brought about by farmed salmon, we are clearly in the midst of an overfishing crisis.
Taking such an approach to explaining overfishing could leave the reader overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information and seemingly insurmountable nature of the problem. Yet as Clover so clearly shows, unless large-scale changes are made in the procurement and consumption of seafood, we are looking at a very dark future indeed for both the world’s seas and humans’ diets. The problems, he says, are big, but not unsolvable.
The End of the Line is readable and well-researched, and Clover’s goal is not to depress his readers but to incite them, hopefully inspiring action for the necessary solutions. Overfishing is a global issue with many complex and entangled contributing factors, but Clover does an admirable job balancing and presenting the information in a way that serves as an effective warning to industry leaders, governments, and the greater public.