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Journal Article

In the Wake of Politics: The Political and Economic Construction of Fisheries Biology, 1860–1970

Jennifer Hubbard
Vol. 105, No. 2 (June 2014), pp. 364-378
DOI: 10.1086/676572
Stable URL:
Page Count: 15
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ABSTRACTAs an environmentally focused, applied field science, fisheries biology has recently been marked by its failed promise to enable sustainable exploitation. Fisheries biology’s origin through state support raises many questions. How did fisheries biologists get this support? Did political considerations and economic ideals fundamentally shape the science? Why has it been perceived as fundamentally conservation oriented? New evidence indicates the political basis for Thomas Henry Huxley’s contention that the deep-sea fisheries were inexhaustible; this essay shows how his influence extended to recent neoliberal resource management solutions. It also explores how fisheries biology acquired the ideal of maximum sustained yield (MSY) via Progressive Era efficiency conservation and German scientific forestry; how American Cold War foreign policy made this ideal paradigmatic of mid to late twentieth-century fisheries biology; and how emerging bioeconomics in the 1950s imposed a troublesome misunderstanding of fisheries biology’s earlier mission.
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