The Most Important Fish in the Sea (Hardcover)

Menhaden and America

By H. Bruce Franklin

Island Press, 9781597261241, 280pp.

Publication Date: March 1, 2007

List Price: 25.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.

Description

In this brilliant portrait of the oceans unlikely hero, H. Bruce Franklin shows how menhaden have shaped America's national and natural history, and why reckless overfishing now threatens their place in both. Since Native Americans began using menhaden as fertilizer, this amazing fish has greased the wheels of U.S. agriculture and industry. By the mid-1870s, menhaden had replaced whales as a principal source of industrial lubricant, with hundreds of ships and dozens of factories along the eastern seaboard working feverishly to produce fish oil. Since the Civil War, menhaden have provided the largest catch of any American fishery. Today, one company Omega Protein has a monopoly on the menhaden reduction industry. Every year it sweeps billions of fish from the sea, grinds them up, and turns them into animal feed, fertilizer, and oil used in everything from linoleum to health-food supplements.The massive harvest wouldn t be such a problem if menhaden were only good for making lipstick and soap. But they are crucial to the diet of bigger fish and they filter the waters of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, playing an essential dual role in marine ecology perhaps unmatched anywhere on the planet. As their numbers have plummeted, fish and birds dependent on them have been decimatedand toxic algae have begun to choke our bays and seas. In Franklin's vibrant prose, the decline of a once ubiquitous fish becomes an adventure story, an exploration of the U.S. political economy, a groundbreaking history of America's emerging ecological consciousness, and an inspiring vision of a growing alliance between environmentalists and recreational anglers.


About the Author

H. Bruce Franklin is the John Cotton Dana Professor of English and American Studies at Rutgers University-Newark. He has authored or edited eighteen books, including War Stars: The Superweapon and the American Imagination, M.I.A. or Mythmaking in America, Prison Writing in Twentieth-Century America, and Vietnam and Other American Fantasies. Franklin has lectured widely and his hundreds of articles and reviews have appeared in publications including The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times, Science, The Nation, and Discover.


Praise For The Most Important Fish in the Sea: Menhaden and America

Franklin''s "''prose is lucid and infused with an urgency that depends little on hyperbole and largely on careful documentation. His compelling narrative informs and enlightens."

-Susan P. Williams

 "This informative, riveting narrative exposes the greed, short-sightedness and unintended consequences which nearly destroyed the Atlantic coast ecosystem entirely..."

"This a fascinating, chilling and yet hopeful account of fish we need for the health of our marine environment."
-Patricia Turner

 "Franklin''s book on the runty menhaden is a killer whale achievement. It''s an eloquent call to end the phony business of incremental regulation of fisheries that are rapidly being driven by industry into the abyss."
-Tom Pelton