Book “Rewilding the Sea” by Sean Clover Presents Case for Restoring Coastal Ecosystems

, September 28, 2023

A book from Sean Clover, co-founder of Blue Marine Foundations, gives hope for the restoration of coastal ecosystems following decades of overfishing. Rewilding the Sea starts by covering the state of coastal waters today, compared with the catch in 1880. Clover cites a turning point in 2007 when David Kaplan’s Year of the Fish won Best Film at Sundance Film Festival. Since then, global awareness has increased – giving cause of hope.

The undercurrent to Clover’s book explores the powers of nature to recover ocean environments and heal human mismanagement. 19 millions gallons of water could be cleaned by a revived oyster colony in the Chesapeake Bay off the East Cost of the United States – a metabolism that now takes a year. But natural assets are being pointed towards restoration – Chagos Conservation has protected 640,000 sq km of ocean.

The declining catch a Dogger Bank in the North Sea provides a local case study and cause for Clover’s own activism, who admits to sponsoring the deposit of a large boulder to prevent bottom-trawling. Halibut, Sturgeon and Flapper Skate have all suffered from the collapse of the shallow ecosystem, a “trophic cascade” which is the inevitable result of unsustainable fishing practices.

Clover points out candidly that the dying coral in shallow island archipelagos like the Maldives may in fact serve to raise the island and defend against ocean sea level rises. Less promising is the reality that distant fleets owned by European companies break as many laws as Chinese fishing industry.

Pick up Rewilding the Sea if you’re looking for a realistic and pragmatic state of the ocean’s health. For UK-based readers, the activism of a coastal community in Sussex will give hope – trawling has been banned within 4km of the coast (February 2021), and a kept restoration group is returning 1000 species to the sea bed.

The book follows a 2004 book from Clover, The End Of The Line: How Overfishing Is Changing the World and What We Eat.

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