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By James Hamilton-Paterson

Seven-Tenths is James Hamilton-Paterson's vintage exploration of the ocean. A beautifully-written mixture of literature and technological know-how, it really is the following introduced again into print in a revised and up to date variation such as the acclaimed essay Sea Burial.

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Example text

And what about Earl Wild? Fantastic technique. Do you know his recording of Liszt’s Don Juan fantasy? Isn’t it great? And there’s an incredible track on the same disc, another Liszt fantasy. It’s on a Meyerbeer opera. … No, it’s gone. ’ Stuart is in his mid-fifties, looks twenty years younger. He has a wife and houses in California. He is no stranger to life at sea, having spent several years in the US Navy. ‘But I’ve got to get out of this business. I always fall foul of hierarchies. I never can get the politics right.

In that time marine science has moved on and fascinating new data have emerged; but nothing, I think, to alter radically my original standpoint. On the political front, one signal and welcome development has been the ban by both the UN and the EU on drift-net fishing. Nevertheless, the steely attrition of the world’s oceans proceeds at an ever-accelerating pace. Given the examples of well-monitored commercial stocks collapsing from over-fishing, the devastation currently being wrought by fishing fleets around the world is a spectacle that makes one wonder afresh at the hubris in styling ourselves Homo sapiens.

There again, if they are measured from the coastline does the boundary have to describe a neat circle or should it faithfully follow every little promontory and indentation so that on a chart Johnston Island will eventually appear as a small blob in the middle of a dotted outline of its own hugely magnified ghost? According to Roger everything depends on the size of the island. International law stipulates how big an island has to be before the EEZ may follow its coastline. There again, a mass of guidelines define a coastline and how to treat it.

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