The Journal of San Diego History
Spring 1988, Volume 34, Number 2
Thomas L. Scharf, Editor

Book Notes

Raymond Starr, Book Review Editor

The War Against the Seals: A History of the North American Seal Fishery.

By Briton Cooper Busch. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1985. Illustrations. Bibliography. Index. 374 Pages. $29.95 Hardcover; $14.95 Paperback.

Briton Busch’s The War Against the Seals is a major contribution to maritime history. With heavy documentation and considerable detail, he traces the history of seal harvesting from the 1780s to the present. He covers the major types of seals, and the major locations of seal fishing – the Atlantic, Pacific and Alaskan waters. Although seal fishing was never a major part of the San Diego scene, it did occur in small ways at various times. For instance Busch refers to Henry Delano Fitch’s and William Dan Phelps’ activities in the 1840s with the marketing of elephant seal products. There was also some San Diego involvement in sea lion fishing, usually in Mexican waters. This occurred as late as the 1930s when Mexican sea lion products were brought into the area for pet food canning. For those brief references to San Diego, and for understanding of the broader picture of American seal fishing, Busch’s War Against the Seals is now the place to start. Originally published in 1985, a paperback edition was issued in 1987.