Crab fishermen are hot these days, the latest in a long series of American folk heroes. If you don’t believe me, watch The Deadliest Catch, the latest reality TV show.  There, you can see the captains and their crews risking life and limb to fish, as large waves crash over their boats in the frigid waters of the Bering Sea off the western coast of Alaska, while the music of popular rocker Bon Jovi blares in the background. What is it all about?  Why are they doing this?  It’s all about overfishing and the need for commercial fishermen to travel further and take more risks to make a living.  And very few people in the world know as much about international fishing as Dr Dayton L.  Alverson, marine biologist and author of “Race to the Sea.”

 Dr Alverson takes us on a long, leisurely journey through his life;  starting with his early life experiences, through high school, World War II, his education and his involvement in State, Federal and International fisheries science and management. Memories of his childhood as a “Navy brat” living in Hawaii and San Diego are filled with nostalgia while accounts of his military service in China during World War II seem to be excerpted from a spy novel with chapter headings like “Assignment Unknown,” “China Bound” and “Into the Atlantic.”

 But while Dr Alverson’s account of his early life makes for pleasant reading, it is his description of the period from 1950 to 2000 that is the most interesting.  This is when world fishing grew dramatically from small boat coastal activities to fleets of large vessels roaming the globe in search of larger, more profitable catches. This dramatic growth in world fishing eventually led to overexploitation of the oceans and seas as well as numerous conflicts between fishing and conservation groups. Dr. Alverson worked for State and Federal conservation agencies for over 30 years and readily admits to being part of an environmental movement whose direct challenge to the fishing industry ultimately led to changes in national and international fishing policies. In particular, overfishing and its impact on coastal fisheries ultimately led the world community to seek new laws for the harvest of ocean fisheries and resulted in unilateral extension of national jurisdictions over ocean space.

More than anything, Race to the Sea provides a valuable, behind the scenes insight into the struggle between those who labor to feed the world population   and those who fear the depletion of one of the earth’s most valuable resources. Dr Alverson has been at the center of this conflict for many years, working with both sides and therefore is eminently qualified to tell the story. It is a fascinating read and I heartily recommend it.

Publisher:  iUniverse

Publisher Address:  1663 Liberty Dr, Bloomington, IN 47403

ISBN, Price, Publication Date:  978-0-595-48680-9, $32.95, 2008

Ron Standerfer is a freelance writer and photographer who is a frequent contributor to Blogger News Network as well as numerous other online news sites. His latest novel, The Eagle’s Last Flight chronicles the life of an Air Force fighter pilot during the Cold War and Vietnam years. Details of his book can be found at http://www.ronstanderfer.com

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