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Title | Author | Content Sample

  • Item# SVOF
  • ISBN13: 978-0-942679-29-8
  • ISBN: 0-942679-29-6
  • Copyright 2004
  • 240 pp.
  • 1.25lb
  • Form: Hardback, With printed dust jacket
  • Price: $24.95
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Servants of the Fish
A Portrait of Newfoundland after the Great Cod Collapse


As the last of the northern cod disappeared from the fishing banks of eastern North America during the waning years of the 20th century, more than just fish faced the threat of extinction. In communities all around the island of Newfoundland, thousands of fishermen and their families suddenly found themselves confronted by a similar threat.

Servants of the Fish is the story of these people, who are at once the perpetrators and the victims of this event. As he did in his best-selling Riddle of the Ice, Arms employs the drama of the voyage to bring readers face to face with the people and the geography of the tale he tells. It is the tale of a particular time and place. Yet it is also an allegory of sorts—about predators and prey, about greed and denial, and about our collective ability as human beings to destroy natural systems once thought to be infinite.

What People are Saying

"A simple, straightforward cautionary tale that foresees the distinct possibility of another fall from environmental grace."

"In this book, author Myron Arms offers compelling insights into why the fisheries collapsed and, above all, presents a sympathetic chronicle of what it did to outport people. He warns that Newfoundland is an example of impending environmental and ecological disasters, like the depletion of the tropical rain forests, dying coral reefs, falling water tables, and shrinking ice caps, all of which ultimately threaten humanity and the world itself . . . . Arms has presented a provocative insight into the fisheries collapse and its effect on the province. Sometimes it takes an outsider to put it into perspective and this author has done that very well."
—The Sunday Telegram (St. John's, Newfoundland)

"[T]he tales Arms tells are straightforward and accessible. Servants is a combination of reportage, history, memoir and philosophical musing."
—The Working Waterfront (Publication of the Island Institute)

". . . Arms circumnavigated Newfoundland aboard his 50-foot cutter, Brendan's Isle, and from that voyage he's crafted a wide-ranging story about what can rightfully be called one of the great ecological disasters of our time. What makes this book so accessible and readable, however, is the human touch Arms brings to his solid reporting on the science and history of the Newfoundland fishing industry. Servants of the Fish, ultimately, is a cautionary tale, one in which every sailor has a vested stake."
—Cruising World

"The book . . . is well-researched and outlines the environmental science, politics, economics, and sociology of the cod fishery—and what happens when humans upset the balance of nature. . . . As sailors, we can't help but be aware of our ocean environment. [The author] asks us to think about and consider this finely-tuned balance, and how we might act as a result."
—CCA News (Publication of the Coastal Conservation Association)

"The characters in Arms' tale are convincing, the prose is powerful, the science is accurate and timely, and the message is one that no concerned citizen of our planet can ignore."
—Christopher Flaven, president, Worldwatch Institute

"In this compelling portrait of the fishermen of Newfoundland, sailor and environmentalist Myron Arms documents the human side of an ecological catastrophe. On one level it is the tale of a gritty and resilient people, the hauntingly beautiful place they live, and the fishery they helped to destroy. On a more universal level, it becomes a kind of environmental morality play—a voyage to Everyland, an encounter with Everyman, and an urgent call for what the author terms 'a different kind of caring' for the Earth."
—Lester Brown, president of Earth Policy Institute, author of Eco-Economy and Plan B

"Servants Of The Fish: A Portrait of Newfoundland after the Great Cod Collapse is an engrossing social history of the individual people and of society as a whole in the wake of the threat of northern cod extinction along the fishing banks of eastern North America. Narrated in brisk, straightforward prose, it tells of those who dedicated their lives to fishing, and who were both precipitators and victims of the ecological catastrophe. A plain-terms narration, equally accessible to the lay reader and the concerned ecologist or environmentalist alike."
—Midwest Book Review

"Lucid, stimulating, and deeply moving—an important achievement."
—Silver Donald Cameron, author of The Living Beach

"Servants of the Fish accomplishes what non-fiction writing seldom does: It conveys an important story with all the intensity and immediacy of a good novel."
—Carl Safina, author of Eye of the Albatross and Song for a Blue Ocean


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