"World Without Fish" by Mark Kurlansky, Chapters 5-8

In this book, Mark Kurlansky explores threats to the world's oceans and fish populations and describes ways that young people can support sustainable fishing.

Here are links to our lists for the book: Introduction and Chapter 1, Chapters 2-4, Chapters 5-8, Chapters 9-11

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. concise
    expressing much in few words
    Chapter Five: Being a concise history of the politics of fish
  2. compensate
    adjust for
    Nature also compensates for a shortage of food by making fish grow more slowly.
  3. intensify
    increase in extent
    This debate intensified after 1944 when Iceland became independent.
  4. province
    the territory in an administrative district of a nation
    For a time, it worked well for Canada—especially Newfoundland and Labrador, a poor province that survived almost entirely on fishing for cod.
  5. export
    a commodity sold to a foreign country
    Fish, an important export for Canada, was helping the country to bring in money from other countries.9i
  6. dory
    a small flat-bottomed fishing boat
    For centuries, cod fishermen in Newfoundland braved the icy waters of the Great Banks in dories (small boats with high sides and flat bottoms) that offered little protection against the raging sea.
  7. skiff
    a small boat propelled by oars or by sails or by a motor
    The skiff fishermen went to scientists, and many scientists agreed with them.
  8. perception
    the process of becoming aware through the senses
    Mayo called this the " perception problem." With fish, he said, you "see some cod and assume this is the tip of the iceberg. But it could be the whole iceberg."
  9. regenerate
    undergo renewal and reconstitution
    There are still cod there, but the population has not regenerated.
  10. fundamental
    being or involving basic facts or principles
    But at least the fundamental debate was now over.
  11. mitigate
    lessen or to try to lessen the seriousness or extent of
    "... mitigate the destruction ever so little, and the number of species will almost instantaneously increase to any amount."
  12. stern
    the rear part of a ship
    The draggers removed huge spools of net from their sterns and hauled in crab traps on pulleys fixed on the sides of the boats.
  13. diversity
    noticeable variety
    Just as species need diversity in order to survive and prosper, it may be that human civilization needs a wide variety of cultures, different ways of life, in order to survive and prosper.
  14. rural
    living in or characteristic of farming or country life
    In the United States alone, thousands of family farms are closed down every year, changing the relationship of people to the land, the nature of rural life, and the kind of food we eat.
  15. linguist
    a specialist in the study of language
    Only eighty-three out of 7,000 languages are commonly spoken today, and linguists estimate that a language from somewhere on earth dies as frequently as every other week.
  16. irony
    incongruity between what might be expected and what occurs
    In the ultimate irony, the restaurants that cater to tourists import cod for their menus because when people travel to Newfoundland, they want to eat cod.
  17. reserve
    a district that is set aside for particular purpose
    When the parks department of Canada proposed turning Bonavista Bay, a one-time inshore fishing ground, into an aquatic reserve for tourists, the fishermen rebelled.
  18. schooner
    sailing vessel used in former times
    Rudyard Kipling's famous book, Captains Courageous, is about a boy who accidentally serves a Gloucester schooner to the Grand Banks, and the American classic Moby Dick by Herman Melville starts in the New Bedford and Nantucket whale fisheries.
  19. moor
    come into or dock at a wharf
    Yacht owners pay prices fishermen can't afford for harbor-front mooring and dock space.
  20. sustainable
    capable of being prolonged
    This is called sustainable fishing. This is the real answer to overfishing.
  21. secrete
    generate and separate from cells or bodily fluids
    Serafino explained how hag fish secrete slime all over their bodies when they become afraid...and how they tie themselves into knots to wring the slime off.
  22. varmint
    any usually predatory wild animal considered undesirable
    Disgusting varmints. But they fetch good money.
  23. domesticate
    make fit for cultivation and service to humans
    We have already seen this in the farming and domestication of mammals.
  24. enzyme
    a complex protein produced by cells that acts as a catalyst
    A cod might lack the enzyme it needs to release to keep from freezing in subarctic water.
  25. pollute
    make impure
    Furthermore, overcrowded pens produce such enormous quantities of waste—including chemicals that are sometimes used—that they pollute surrounding waters.
  26. quota
    a prescribed number
    The second problem with regulating in this way, which is known as fishing quotas, is that most fish that are caught are dead by the time they reach the fisherman's deck.
  27. incentive
    a positive motivational influence
    These laws also give fishermen incentive to waste fish.
  28. competition
    the act of contending with others for rewards or resources
    Darwin noted that competition is particularly intense between related species because they tend to eat similar things.
  29. irreparable
    impossible to rectify or amend
    But if the fishermen also kill too many of the haddock before the cod have recovered, a wide swath out of the food chain will have been irreparably damaged, shifting the entire balance of nature.
  30. destructive
    causing damage
    It is extremely destructive to a fishing society to stop fishermen from working.
  31. sector
    a social group that forms part of the society or the economy
    A group of fishermen form a sector and agree that this group will fish only a specific quantity of each of the seventeen species of groundfish that are allowed in New England.
  32. prescribe
    issue commands or orders for
    The group regulates themselves however they want, as long as at the end of a year they have landed only the prescribed quantity.
  33. assessment
    the act of judging a person or situation or event
    Daniel Pauly, a scientist at the University of Britsh Columbia and one of the leading experts on fish-stock assessment, is one of the many scientists who has called for "ecosystem-based management" but the idea is only catching on very slowly.
  34. bureaucracy
    unnecessary procedures that obstruct action
    The bureaucracy needs to read Darwin.
  35. grandeur
    the quality of being magnificent or splendid
    There is grandeur in this view of life...from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful have been, and are being evolved.
  36. efficient
    being effective without wasting time, effort, or expense
    So many of the problems of modern fishing were created by the development of equipment that was just too efficient.
  37. suppress
    put down by force or authority
    The problem is that technology, once it is invented, is very difficult to suppress.
  38. deplete
    use up, as resources or materials
    History shows that since it was invented, wherever this type of ship has gone it has left the fish populations depleted.
  39. outrage
    a feeling of righteous anger
    But suggestions that bottom draggers themselves be banned are usually met with outrage or disbelief by most fishermen.
  40. harpoon
    spear with a lance with a shaft and barbed point
    But fishermen who employ the old methods, such as hook-and-line fishing—or even harpooning—don't need to have nearly as many regulations.

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