Hooked: Pirates, Poaching, and the Perfect Fish

By in Maritime on March 24, 2013

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This modern pirate yarn has all the makings of a great true adventure tale and is also an exploration of the ways our culinary tastes have all manner of unintended consequences for the world around us.

Hooked is a story about the poaching of the Patagonian toothfish (known to gourmands as Chilean Sea Bass) and is built around the pursuit of the illegal fishing vessel Viarsa by an Australian patrol boat, Southern Supporter, in one of the longest pursuits in maritime history.

Author G. Bruce Knecht chronicles how an obscure fish merchant in California “discovered” and renamed the fish, kicking off a worldwide craze for a fish no one had ever heard of – and everyone had to have. And with demand exploding, priates were only too happy to satisfy our taste for Chilean Sea Bass.

Knecht – whose previous book The Proving Ground was hailed by Walter Cronkite as “a sailing masterpiece…a tale more thrilling than fiction”–captivates readers by deftly shifting among the story’s nail-biting elements: The perilous chase at sea through frenzied winds, punishing waves, and an obstacle course of icebergs; the high-stakes environmental battle and courtroom drama; and the competitive battle among the world’s restaurants to serve the perfect, flaky, white-fleshed fish.

From the world’s most treacherous waters to its most fabulous kitchens, Hooked is at once a thrilling tale and a revelatory popular history that will appeal to a diverse group of readers. Think Kitchen Confidential meets The Hungry Ocean.

2 thoughts on “Hooked: Pirates, Poaching, and the Perfect Fish

  1. 1
    12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Don’t order fish from a restaurant menu until you read this!, May 16, 2006
    R. Allen (San Diego, CA United States) –

    This review is from: Hooked: Pirates, Poaching, and the Perfect Fish (Hardcover)

    When was the last time you ordered fish at a restaurant? Have you ever wondered how those fish got there? How about Chilean Sea Bass? My wife and I have ordered it dozens of times. Very tasty. One of my favorites. Once you read “Hooked”, you might want to reconsider. “Hooked” is an adventure tale of how our oceans are being stripped of fish in unenlightened ways. This book is fascinating reading as fast paced as an adventure novel. I guarantee you’ll enjoy it and learn so much about things you never knew about–fish, our oceans, ice, maritime laws. Every person who has ever ordered fish from a restaurant should read it. I highly recommend it.

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  2. R. Spell "raspell"
    11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    When Will We Run Out of Fish, May 29, 2006
    R. Spell “raspell” (Memphis, TN USA) –

    Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: Hooked: Pirates, Poaching, and the Perfect Fish (Hardcover)

    This is an excellent book detailing an illegal fishing expedition in Australian water resulting in a forced boarding after a lengthy chase to north of South Africa, as well as the resulting trial. But that is not the most interesting story of the book. The author details the discovery of Chilean Sea Bass (bass? what a joke), the marketing angle, and the subsequent ecological tragedy as the sea beds are over fished in 15 years. The author did excellent research and tells this compelling tale while teaching the reader about the fishing industry, legal and illegal, and the current state of our fishing beds. One concern I have about the book is it is somewhat disjointed as he jumps from country to country at one point adding in a story of a fishing company owner living in America who is arrested for importing fish illegally caught. Also, in many respects the trial at the end of the book is very anti-climatic.

    Overall though, this is a very interesting book where you will learn quite a bit about the fishing industry and problems with our supplies of fish.

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