Human archives: Historians' methodologies and past marine resource use

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This chapter shows how historians’ methodologies and approaches are being used to reconstruct marine ecological phenomena of the past. In terms of the use of history in historical marine ecology, a number of examples are presented of how past species abundance and spatial aggregation as well as long term catch rates has been investigated through the use of past paper documents, including photographs.
Equally important, and more frequently, historians are answering anthropogenic questions evolving around individual fishermen, fishing fleets, consumers, managers and marine scientists. Listing all relevant historical scholarship, which can be termed marine environmental history are beyond the scope of this chapter. What is mainly in focus here, is historical research, where the methodologies have been used to infer knowledge on past marine resource use.
The final parts of this chapter explore some of the prospects for including historical archival material further in future research in marine environmental history. Accessing these types of data can be a rewarding but labour intensive adventure. Nonetheless, the ongoing process of digitization is a welcome proliferation of the accessibility of such data, where a number of examples were presented.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPerspectives on Oceans Past : A Handbook of Marine Environmental History
EditorsKathleen Schwerdtner-Manèz, Bo Poulsen
Number of pages17
Place of PublicationDordrecht
Publication date27 May 2016
ISBN (Print)978-94-017-7495-6
ISBN (Electronic)978-94-017-7496-3
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2016


  • marine environmental history
  • historical marine ecology
  • archival documents
  • Historical species abundances
  • Long-term catch rates
  • History of marine science
  • Digital data mining
  • Fisheries
  • fisheries history
  • fishing


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