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The northern cod have been almost wiped out. Once the most plentiful fish on the Grand Banks off the coast of Newfoundland, the cod is now on the brink of extinction, and tens of thousands of people in Atlantic Canada have been left without work by a 1992 moratorium on fishing the stock. Today, the Pacific salmon stocks are in similar trouble – victims of the same blind, stupid greed.

Angry, accusatory fingers have been pointed at various possible culprits for the collapse of the cod – at the Spanish and Portuguese, who for hundreds of years sent ever-bigger fleets to the Grand Banks; at the factory-freezer trawlers, which “vacuumed” the ocean floor for the prized fish; at those inshore fishermen who circumvented the rules governing the fishery; at the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, which is responsible for managing the fishery; at the harp seal, the cod’s competitor for food, whose numbers have exploded in recent years; even at Nature, for lowering the temperature of the ocean.

In Lament for an Ocean, the award-winning true-crime writer Michael Harris investigates the real causes of the most wanton destruction of a natural resource in North American history since the buffalo were wiped off the face of the prairies. The story he carefully unfolds is the sorry tale of how, despite the repeated and urgent warnings of ocean scientists, the northern cod was ruthlessly exploited.

From the Hardcover edition.

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