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Coming Spring 2021: The New Pirates of the High Seas

After a fierce bidding war on both sides of the Atlantic, Greystone Books has acquired North American rights to The New Pirates of the High Seas, the debut non-fiction book from renowned Irish science writer Olive Heffernan.

The High Seas make up two-thirds of Earth’s oceans and are beyond territorial waters. Largely un-policed and unknown, their resources are considered the common heritage of humanity—free, with few exceptions, for all to exploit.

Heffernan’s gripping, page-turning exploration of humanity’s race to control, exploit, and preserve the High Seas—a competition she calls “the blue gold rush”—culminated in three-publisher auctions in the UK and North America, going to UK publisher Profile and Greystone Books respectively. Greystone publisher Rob Sanders acquired North American rights, including Canada (English only), to Heffernan’s debut from across the pond, with Patrick Walsh of the PEW Literary Agency negotiating the deal.

The New Pirates of the High Seas is the first book to offer a historical, economic, geopolitical, and social analysis of humanity’s new frontier, the High Seas,” said Sanders. “Greystone fought hard to win this book not only because it’s impeccably-written and compelling, but also because we believe in the importance of raising awareness about what’s happening in our oceans—beyond what we can see with our own eyes or what we read in the news—and sharing information about how we can save Earth’s unprotected waters,” he continued.

In a report on the book in The Bookseller, Heffernan’s agent, Walsh, said, "We are witnessing the dawn of what Olive calls the ‘blue gold rush’, with mining companies eyeing up the seemingly inexhaustible metal reserves strewn across sea-beds, and bio-prospectors seeking to add to the 30,000 or so antibiotics and pharmaceuticals—AZT, for instance, the Aids treatment drug, derives from a sea sponge—which were found in the seas.”

"At the same time,” he continued, “geo-engineers are designing huge projects to stop glacier and ice-sheet erosion, in a race against climate change, and conservationists are making plans to replenish global fish stocks which have declined worldwide by 50%. Add in the UN bodies looking to rewrite the laws of the seas, and the international police bodies planning to halt slavery and other crimes that occur on trawlers at sea, and you realize that the High Seas really are humanity’s new frontier."

Olive Heffernan is uniquely positioned to provide her riveting account of the High Seas—and to offer solutions for protecting them. A marine scientist and journalist, Heffernan has spent 20 years thinking about and researching the oceans. She is a zoologist who moved into marine science, spending the early part of her career conserving fish stocks in the North and Irish Seas, helping to re-establish cod stocks, before jumping from academia and the decks of trawlers into journalism. She then rose through the ranks at Nature magazine, winning writing fellowships and prizes and launching the world’s most influential climate change journal, Nature Climate Change, before leaving to freelance. Today, Heffernan writes across the spectrum from Scientific American to the New Scientist, and is an adjunct lecturer in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins University.

Greystone Books is a trade book publisher that focuses on high-quality non-fiction. Greystone is based in Vancouver, Canada, with offices in the UK and United States.


For more information please contact:
Megan Jones, Marketing Manager
Greystone Books


Image Credit: Platform Holly at Sunset by Glen Beltz, CC License (minor cropping performed)

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