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Rarely has humanity's underestimation of the impacts of its activities been so starkly demonstrated as in the marine environment. For centuries the seas appeared to offer limitless supplies of food and other resources, their waters a cornucopia never to be exhausted. In more recent times the extreme exploitation and subsequent collapse of cod populations of the Grand Banks off Newfoundland and tumbling numbers of North Atlantic right whales are well-known examples highlighting the fallaciousness of this view. Yet all too often the lessons from our historical interactions with marine animals are little known, let alone learned.
Based on research for the History of Marine Animal Populations project, Oceans Past is an accessible yet detailed examination of the complex relationship our forebears had with the sea and the animals that inhabit it. Adopting a multidisciplinary approach, it presents eleven studies ranging from fisheries to invasive species and from offshore technology to the study of marine environmental history itself, bringing together the perspectives of historians and marine scientists to enhance understanding of ocean management past, present and future. In addition to providing essential context to the debate around the impact of human activity on natural resources, Oceans Past also highlights the influence that changes in marine ecosystems have upon the politics, welfare and culture of human societies.
- Foreword: Future Knowledge of Life in Oceans Past
- Oceans Past: History Meets Marine Science
- Social Conflict, Overfishing and Disease in the Florida Sponge Fishery, 1849-1939
- Resolving the 120-year Debate Regarding the Purported Invasion of the Common Periwinkle Snail, Littorina littorea, in Northeast North America
- Historical Changes in the Retail Cost and Usage of Seafood as Reflected in Restaurant Menus
- Baiting Our Memories: Offshore Technology Changes and Their Impacts on Inshore Species around Cape Cod, 1860-1895
- Mapping Historic Fishing Grounds in the Gulf of Maine and Northwest Atlantic Ocean
- There She Blew: Yankee Sperm Whaling Grounds, 1760-1920
- The Maury Abstracts and the North Pacific Right Whale Fishery
- Sperm Whale Catches and Encounter Rates in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries: An Apparent Paradox
- The Early Use of Historical Data for Interpreting the Dynamics of Marine Populations
- The Political History of Maximum Sustained Yield, 1945-1955
- Afterword: Lost and Found in the Past
- Bibliography, Index
Dr David J. Starkey is Reader in Maritime History at the University of Hull, UK. He has published over 60 works, including many on fisheries and marine environmental history. Professor Poul Holm is Rector of Roskilde University, Denmark. He is Chair of the HMAP Executive Committee, and has been a member of the CoML Scientific Steering Committee since 2000. Michaela Barnard is Research Fellow in the Maritime Historical Studies Centre, University of Hull. As well as teaching and researching marine environmental history, she has published many works on fisheries and shipping history.
"[A] fascinating volume, which establishes marine environmental history as a major new discipline for academics as well as an exciting way to bring history and the natural world alive for the public."
– Andrew A. Rosenberg, University of New Hampshire
"The HMAP project is to be congratulated on this book, which presents vivid, evidence-based reconstructions of historical fisheries and the prolific ecosystems in which they were embedded."
– Tony J. Pitcher, University of British Columbia
"The ingenuity and scholarship of the authors allow us to see [...] how human societies have depended on and influenced marine living resources from periwinkles to whales."
– Mike Sinclair, Bedford Institute of Oceanography
"This book exalts the surprisingly fruitful marriage of historians and marine scientists – a union that has proven to be one of the most exciting developments in ocean research in recent years."
– Katherine Richardson, University of Copenhagen
"Oceans Past is a fascinating book that addresses the history of fisheries resources […]. It applies lessons from the past to describe the causes and consequences of changes in the marine environment, and to address improved management of ocean fisheries."
– A. K. Volety, Florida Gulf Coast University, USA
"Informative and engaging"
"A fascinating book [...] Recommended"