World Without Fish by Mark Kurlansky

Cover of the book: World Without Fish by Mark Kurlansky and illustrated by Frank Stockton

For Earth Day 2020 I decided to go for most of the day without electronics. For a whole day I went without my tablet, my laptop, and a TV. For half of the day, from 5pm-midnight, I kept my phone off.

What did I do with all of this sudden free time? I spent my morning outside cleaning up the yard, the weather was quite nice after a few days of rain. Then I spent the rest of the day reading.

One of the books I read was World Without Fish by Mark Kurlansky with illustrations by Frank Stockton. It’s an interesting book about the history of fishing, focusing on commercial fishing in the ocean, how overfishing became a problem, and the dangers of overfishing.

The language is easy enough to understand for anyone in middle grade school and above, and the author does a wonderful job explaining more complex issues in a way that others would be able to understand. The illustrations help to break up long sections of information, and they’re rather nice to look at.

Inside the book, there is also a several part comic that follows the story of a dad and daughter, eventually showing the future of a fishless sea. Not gonna lie, the comic is depressing and it didn’t really hit me until the end. Still, it’s a creative way to show a possible future if we don’t do something about unsustainable fishing now.

Overall, I would recommend this book to everyone I can. Not only is it a good history o commercial fishing, but it provides insights as to how fishing became a problem and that fishermen are not at the root of it all. In fact, it shows that both sides made mistakes and that both sides want to fix the problem. It also looks at all the viable options for sustainable fishing practices and the science behind each. And finally, it gives information on how we the consumers can help promote sustainable fishing by shopping for the right products.

Mark Kurlansky gives the readers all sorts of information on how to learn more about supporting sustainable fishing, including what labels to look out for, websites for more information, and even a pamphlet that you can cut out and carry with you.

For those who want to take it a step beyond the grocery store, especially grade schoolers who want to do more, he provides steps you can take to promote sustainable fish. Including, how to protest and bring up the issue in your local stores and restaurants while still being civil, making proactive groups at school, and how to bring it to the attention of the government.

Again, World Without Fish is an insightful read that brings to light a possible future that we can see in our lifetime. It’s a call for change, and it provides resources on how to act now in peaceful ways. I recommend it to everyone. I also recommend that parents and children read it together. There’s always hope, and it starts with us.

“All life on earth is interconnected, and altered circumstances will change the order of life at sea, which will also change life on land. And all of this can and will have an enormous impact on our lives” ~Mark Kurlansky, pg. xvii

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