Kings of Their Own Ocean: Tuna and the Future of our Oceans

By Karen Pinchin

This is a tale of human obsession, one intrepid tuna, the dedicated fisherman who caught and set her free, the promises and limits of ocean science and the big truth of how our insatiable appetite for bluefin transformed a cottage industry into a global dilemma.

In 2004, an enigmatic charter captain named Al Anderson caught and marked one Atlantic bluefin tuna off New England’s coast with a plastic fish tag. Fourteen years later that fish – dubbed Amelia for her ocean-spanning journeys – died in a Mediterranean fish trap, sparking Karen Pinchin’s riveting investigation into the marvels, struggles, and prehistoric legacy of this remarkable species.

Over his fishing career Al marked more than sixty thousand fish with plastic tags, an obsession that made him nearly as many enemies as it did friends. His quest landed him in the crossfire of an ongoing fight between a booming bluefin tuna industry and desperate conservation efforts, a conflict that is once again heating up as overfishing and climate change threaten the fish’s fate.

Kings of Their Own Ocean is an urgent investigation that combines science, business, crime, and environmental justice. As Pinchin writes, ‘as a global community, we are collectively only ever a few terrible choices away from wiping out any ocean species.’ Through her exclusive access and interdisciplinary, mesmerizing lens, readers will join her on boats and docks as she visits tuna hot spots and scientists from Portugal to Japan, New Jersey to Nova Scotia, and glimpse, as the author does, rays of dazzling hope for the future of our oceans.

Format: Hardback
Release Date: 06 Jul 2023
Pages: 320
ISBN: 978-0-00-846781-4
Karen Pinchin is an award-winning journalist specializing in investigative and longform reporting. She was most recently the 2019/2020 Tow Fellow at PBS FRONTLINE at WGBH, and is now based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. For more than a decade she has worked as both a staff and freelance reporter and editor specializing in food systems and science journalism. In 2019, Karen graduated from Columbia’s Journalism School with a Master of Arts in science journalism, and won the school’s Lynton Fellowship for Book Writing.

”'Karen Pinchin has written a moving, vivid, often heart-pounding narrative of the love, greed and dramas surrounding the lives and deaths of a fish upon whom human fortunes rise and fall - each an individual animal who surely loves his or her life as much as we love ours. Kings of Their Own Ocean is a moving and ultimately hopeful story, reminding us that if we are honest and we are wise, we still may save the denizens of our imperiled seas” - Sy Montgomery, New York Times bestselling author of The Soul of an Octopus

”'A new look at the beauty and the importance of an ancient fish [that] asks where we should go from here” - The New Yorker

”'Ms. Pinchin writes acutely about the codependence between fisheries science and politics… It makes for good storytelling, as well as a point of entry into Ms. Pinchin’s deft portraits” - Wall Street Journal

”'The people in Kings of Their Own Ocean are portrayed in all their rich human complexity, a quality that sets this book apart” - Science

”'Turns out a would-be biography of an Atlantic bluefin tuna can be riveting. Especially when you bring its unlikely two-time catcher into the mix and make it a story about the precarious state of conservation efforts” - Globe and Mail

”'Comprehensive…exhaustive and engaging” - Boston Globe

”'An engaging and fascinating tale of a natural struggle that will help determine the future of the oceans” - Kirkus Reviews

”'Pinchin provides a solid analysis of the far-reaching consequences of human action on marine life” - Publishers Weekly

”'Kings of Their Own Ocean enthralls, instructs and is a must-read for readers concerned about the future of our oceans and the creatures within them” - BookPage

”'This volume will take its rightful place among the top shelf tuna classics and is a must-read for all obsessed with bluefin tuna” - National Fisherman