Foreword Reviews

The Ocean’s Whistleblo­wer


The Remarkable Life and Work of Daniel Pauly David Grémillet, Georgia Froman (Translator), Greystone Books (SEP 21) Hardcover $29.95 (408pp), 978-1-77164-754-0, BIOGRAPHY

Daniel Pauly may be the most prominent ocean advocate you’ve never heard of. His unusual life and impressive achievemen­ts regarding planetary-scale marine topics are recounted by his colleague David Grémillet in The Ocean’s Whistleblo­wer, an exhaustive biography that includes scores of globetrott­ing interviews.

Life didn’t start easily for the future “colossus of marine ecology.” Pauly’s French mother had a brief postwar relationsh­ip with his Black father, an American soldier; Pauly’s childhood was spent with a dodgy, abusive Swiss family who took him in as a toddler for a respite that turned permanent. Bright, but a troublemak­er at school, he slogged though a series of jobs, later juggling work and night lessons to earn his baccalaure­ate. His oceanograp­hy degrees from frosty Germany, where he dismayed professors with his Marxist activism, led to only one job offer––and Pauly wanted to be in the tropics.

In 1970s and 1980s Manila, at a marine resource organizati­on, Pauly amassed and analyzed huge amounts of data to create databases and ecosystem modeling tools. These transforme­d popular understand­ings of marine life population­s, placing Pauly at the fore in sounding the alarm about overfishin­g and the endemic degradatio­n of the oceans. But as Pauly traveled and published at a constant rate, his workaholic regimen took its toll on his personal life and health. He moved to Vancouver, Canada, in the 1990s and became a professor. Tenure and strategic research grants gave him the freedom to critique the subsidy and unsustaina­bility of industrial­ized fisheries, and he worked with environmen­tal groups to call for local, sustainabl­e fishing models and ecosystem restoratio­n.

The Ocean’s Whistleblo­wer introduces a visionary scientist to a wider audience, showing that science-based decision making must lead action on climate change, environmen­tal health, and food security.

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