Technological innovation and resource management in the fisheries of the British Isles, ca. 1400-1900

  • Peter Jones

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

This thesis represents the first in-depth study of interactions between fishermen, fisheries managers and fishery resources in British waters before the industrial age. In particular, it investigates those interactions during periods of technological innovation and intensified fishing activity in the period between 1400 and 1900, and seeks to explain the responses of both fishermen and managers to those changes. By bringing together methodological tools from social history, environmental history and modern fisheries science it demonstrates that fishermen have always had a sophisticated understanding of the potential impact of their activities on the marine environment, and of the overall health of the fisheries in which they were engaged. Moreover, it makes clear that keen resistance to what were perceived as destructive fishing practices (particularly in relation to growth overfishing) has an unbroken history stretching back to the Plantagenets, and that fishermen’s complaints about such practices were very often met with sympathy and protective legislation for the majority of that time. What follows also demonstrates that, contrary to the conventional historical view, the most consistently reviled of all marine fishing practices, beam trawling, also has an unbroken history of usage reaching back to at least the fourteenth century. Finally, it goes on to show that the majority view of fishermen, who remained largely in favour of protection for inshore fisheries and the inshore marine environment, was sidelined in debates about fisheries management at some point in the mid- to late-nineteenth century. This shift in perspective heralded the abandonment of at least six hundred years of protectionism in the management of Britain and Ireland’s fisheries and ushered in a new era of fish production at any cost.
Date of Award1 Oct 2016
LanguageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SupervisorDouglas Speirs (Supervisor) & (Supervisor)

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