Cover image for Salmon : a fish, the earth, and the history of their common fate
Title:
Salmon : a fish, the earth, and the history of their common fate
ISBN:
9781938340864
Physical Description:
448 pages : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 23 cm
General Note:
Appendix by Nick Gayeski and James Lichatowich, further explaining several issues with conservation of salmon.
Contents:
Prologue: A tale of two fisheries -- Part one. The hero. A family matter ; A hero's life -- Part two. A human problem. The original salmon ; Old ways in the new land ; A golden fish arrives in the east ; When it was working ; The white man comes ; Nowhere to run -- Part three. The problem with solutions. Why not make more? ; Sea cattle ; The release -- Part four. The dangerous future. Elegy for the Atlantic ; The ballad of the Pacific ; The golden fish departs -- Epilogue: It concerns us -- Endnotes -- Appendix. Wild Pacific salmon : myths, false assumptions, and a failed management paradigm / Jim Lichatowich and Nick Gayeski.
Summary:
A magnificent species whose survival is inextricably tied to the survival of the planet In what he calls "the most important environmental writing" in his long and award-winning career, best-selling author and journalist Mark Kurlansky recounts the sobering history of salmon and their perilous future. Kurlansky employs his signature multicentury storytelling and compelling attention to detail to chronicle the harrowing yet awe-inspiring life cycle of salmon and the long list of environmental problems, from habit loss to dams, from hatcheries to fish farms, from industrial pollution to the ravages of climate change, that threaten them. Kurlansky traveled extensively to observe those who both pursue and protect them in the Pacific and the Atlantic, in Japan, Russia, Ireland, Norway, and Iceland. The result is a global history of man's misdirected attempts to manipulate salmon and its environment for his own gain. These fish, uniquely connected to both marine and terrestrial ecology as well as fresh and salt water, are a remarkable natural barometer for the health of the planet. His overriding message is clear: "If salmon don't survive, there is little hope for the survival of the planet."--Publisher.
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Summary

Summary

"Henry David Thoreau wrote, 'Who hears the fishes when they cry?' Maybe we need to go down to the river bank and try to listen."

In what he says is the most important piece of environmental writing in his long and award-winning career, Mark Kurlansky, best-selling author of Salt and Cod , The Big Oyster, 1968, and Milk , among many others, employs his signature multi-century storytelling and compelling attention to detail to chronicle the harrowing yet awe-inspiring life cycle of salmon.

During his research Kurlansky traveled widely and observed salmon and those who both pursue and protect them in the Pacific and the Atlantic, in Ireland, Norway, Iceland, Japan, and even the robust but not as frequently visited Kamchatka Peninsula. This world tour reveals an eras-long history of man's misdirected attempts to manipulate salmon and its environments for his own benefit and gain, whether for entertainment or to harvest food.

In addition, Kurlansky's research shows that all over the world these fish, uniquely connected to both marine and terrestrial ecology as well as fresh and salt water, are a natural barometer for the health of the planet. He documents that for centuries man's greatest assaults on nature, from overfishing to dams, from hatcheries to fish farms, from industrial pollution to the ravages of climate change, are evidenced in the sensitive life cycle of salmon.

With stunning historical and contemporary photographs and illustrations throughout, Kurlansky's insightful conclusion is that the only way to save salmon is to save the planet and, at the same time, the only way to save the planet is to save the mighty, heroic salmon.


Author Notes

Mark Kurlansky is the author of The Basque History of the World, the New York Times bestseller Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World (among the New York Public Library's Best Books of the Year in 1998), as well as A Chosen Few: The Resurrection of European Jewry; A Continent of Islands: Searching for the Caribbean Destiny, and several acclaimed works of short fiction and journalism about the Caribbean. He spent seven years as the Caribbean correspondent for the Chicago Tribune.

He lives in New York City.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 1

Kirkus Review

Having written about milk, salt, oysters, and frozen food, Kurlansky (Milk!: A 10,000-Year Food Fracas, 2018, etc.) turns his pen to an iconic fish on the brink of extinction."How many species do we lose when we lose a salmon?" asks the author toward the end of this handsomely illustrated work of natural history and environmental advocacy. The answer is that we do not know for certain, but the salmon is part of a chain of life that ranges from tiny insects to large mammals and birds. Every species, then, unlocks the door to many other species, and allowing any species to diminish is to threaten the whole web of life. So it is with the salmon. Kurlansky covers all the bases, from life cycle and reproductive history to the fact that the salmon is particularly vulnerable precisely because it spends part of its life in salt water, part in fresh water. The author observes that ideal salmon habitat includes rivers that run clear and clean and that are undammed, which are increasingly rare except in very remote places such as the Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia, which may turn out to be where salmon make their last stand. Certainly it won't be on the Columbia River, where Lewis and Clark saw a horizon of flashing fins two centuries ago, whereas "by 1975, a total of 14 dams were blocking the main Columbia River, 13 were on the Snake [River]," numbers that don't begin to take into account the thousands of smaller dams along the tributaries. Kurlansky offers a dauntingly long list of things that need to happen if the salmon is to be saved, ranging from dismantling dams to checking climate change, restoring forests and apex predators, ending the use of pesticides, and removing homes and roads from riverbanks in favor of galleries of trees. "If we can save the planet," he writes, "the salmon will be all right." And if not, we must conclude, not.In championing a critically important part of the natural world, Kurlansky sounds an urgent alarm that commands our attention. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.