Shifting Baselines: The Past and the Future of Ocean Fisheries

Overview

Shifting Baselines explores the real-world implications of a groundbreaking idea: we must understand the oceans of the past to protect the oceans of the future. In 1995, acclaimed marine biologist Daniel Pauly coined the term "shifting baselines" to describe a phenomenon of lowered expectations, in which each generation regards a progressively poorer natural world as normal. This seminal volume expands on Pauly's work, showing how skewed visions of the past have led to disastrous marine policies and why ...

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Shifting Baselines: The Past and the Future of Ocean Fisheries

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Overview

Shifting Baselines explores the real-world implications of a groundbreaking idea: we must understand the oceans of the past to protect the oceans of the future. In 1995, acclaimed marine biologist Daniel Pauly coined the term "shifting baselines" to describe a phenomenon of lowered expectations, in which each generation regards a progressively poorer natural world as normal. This seminal volume expands on Pauly's work, showing how skewed visions of the past have led to disastrous marine policies and why historical perspective is critical to revitalize fisheries and ecosystems.
 
Edited by marine ecologists Jeremy Jackson and Enric Sala, and historian Karen Alexander, the book brings together knowledge from disparate disciplines to paint a more realistic picture of past fisheries. The authors use case studies on the cod fishery and the connection between sardine and anchovy populations, among others, to explain various methods for studying historic trends and the intricate relationships between species. Subsequent chapters offer recommendations about both specific research methods and effective management. This practical information is framed by inspiring essays by Carl Safina and Randy Olson on a personal experience of shifting baselines and the importance of human stories in describing this phenomenon to a broad public.
 
While each contributor brings a different expertise to bear, all agree on the importance of historical perspective for effective fisheries management. Readers, from students to professionals, will benefit enormously from this informed hindsight.

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Editorial Reviews

Book News Inc.
"Twenty-six international scientists and historians contribute 11 chapters exploring the "shifting baselines" paradigm — how each generation regards a progressively poorer natural world as normal—as it applies to current perceptions of the world's oceans and the future of ocean fisheries. "
Oceanography
"[Shifting Baselines] provides a unique historical perspective on the evolution of knowledge and scientific thinking around shifting baselines...Book is a great effort by the editors and their team of authors, and it makes for compelling reading."
Choice

"Contributors present an analysis of historical data on the impacts of humans on marine systems, and address the need to understand the past to help predict the future. The essays are presented in a clear, logical manner..."
Conservation BIology

"Ecologists and historians, in an all-too-rare collaboration, combine their perspectives to explore the significance of the shifting-baselines paradigm in a set of studies that cover most of the world's major oceans."

author of Merchants of Doubt - Naomi Oreskes
"What exactly are marine conservationists trying to conserve? Most would answer 'nature.' But this important book—an innovative collaboration between scientists and historians—shows us that the current state of nature is not natural at all. On the contrary, it is profoundly depleted, the result of 300 years of intense human predation and pollution. If we continue on our present course, we shall 'manage' our fisheries to extinction."
Distinguished Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - Charles H. "Pete" Peterson
"In this book, Jackson and contributors illustrate how appreciation of historical baselines in marine ecosystems demands fundamental revisions of restoration goals for ocean resources and inclusion in ecosystem-based management schemes for fishes. This approach holds promise of transforming the science of sustainability."
Guilty Planet Blog, Scientific American - Jennifer Jacquet
"Given the diverse backgrounds of the contributors, this book gives a wide view of what the past means for the future: what cod populations really looked like, how to detect genetic bottlenecks (for instance, a population of 100 female whales loses 0.5 percent of its genetic variation every generation), why we need to write communication into scientific budgets. Editors Jeremy Jackson, Karen Alexander, and Enric Sala have tied all the threads together (full disclosure: they are friends and colleagues, as are many of the chapter authors)."
Oceanography - Alistair J. Hobday
"[Shifting Baselines] provides a unique historical perspective on the evolution of knowledge and scientific thinking around shifting baselines...Book is a great effort by the editors and their team of authors, and it makes for compelling reading."
Conservation BiIology
"Ecologists and historians, in an all-too-rare collaboration, combine their perspectives to explore the significance of the shifting-baselines paradigm in a set of studies that cover most of the world's major oceans."
Environmental History
"Shifting Baselines is refreshing intellectually in its willingness to bring together fisheries science and history to impose new questions on the development of the marine environment and the exploitation of the fisheries."
BioScience
"Shifting Baselines is a stimulating and necessary volume for anyone interested in the issues surrounding marine conservation, ecosystem-based management, or how societies may set ambitious but realistic targets for biodiversity."
Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UC Santa Cruz - James A. Estes
"Only by opening our minds to the past can we truly see and understand what humans have done to the natural world. Shifting Baselines is a poignant expos é of this fundamental yet sadly underappreciated truth, made both rigorous and credible through the skillful melding of traditional and natural history. A must read for everyone who cares about the status of fisheries, the state of our oceans, and the ideal of sustainability."
Choice
"Contributors present an analysis of historical data on the impacts of humans on marine systems, and address the need to understand the past to help predict the future. The essays are presented in a clear, logical manner..."
Conservation Biology
"Ecologists and historians, in an all-too-rare collaboration, combine their perspectives to explore the significance of the shifting-baselines paradigm in a set of studies that cover most of the world's major oceans."
CHOICE
"Contributors present an analysis of historical data on the impacts of humans on marine systems, and address the need to understand the past to help predict the future. The essays are presented in a clear, logical manner..."
Book News
"Twenty-six international scientists and historians contribute 11 chapters exploring the 'shifting baselines' paradigm—how each generation regards a progressively poorer natural world as normal—as it applies to current perceptions of the world's oceans and the future of ocean fisheries. "
Scientific American Guilty Planet Blog
"Given the diverse backgrounds of the contributors, this book gives a wide view of what the past means for the future: what cod populations really looked like, how to detect genetic bottlenecks (for instance, a population of 100 female whales loses 0.5 percent of its genetic variation every generation), why we need to write communication into scientific budgets. Editors Jeremy Jackson, Karen Alexander, and Enric Sala have tied all the threads together (full disclosure: they are friends and colleagues, as are many of the chapter authors)."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781610910002
  • Publisher: Island Press
  • Publication date: 9/5/2011
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeremy Jackson is Director of the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Karen Alexander is a historian who is currently Project Coordinator of the Gulf of Maine Cod Project. Enric Sala is National Geographic Society Fellow.
 

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Importance of Shifting Baselines Jeremy B. C. Jackson Karen E. Alexander 1

Part I The Problem Defined 9

Chapter 1 A Shoreline Remembrance Carl Safina 13

Chapter 2 The "March of Folly" in Global Fisheries U. Rashid Sumaila Daniel Pauly 21

Chapter 3 If a Frond Falls in the Kelp Forest (does it make any sound?) Randy Olson 33

Part II Anchovies and Sardines 43

Chapter 4 The Sardine-Anchovy Puzzle Alec D. Maccall 47

Chapter 5 Variations in Fisheries and Complex Ocean Environments David B. Field Francisco Chavez Carina B. Lange Paul E. Smith 59

Part III Cod 77

Chapter 6 The Historical Abundance of Cod on the Nova Scotian Shelf W. Jeffrey Bolster Karen E. Alexander William B. Leavenworth 79

Chapter 7 History and Context: Reflections from Newfoundland Daniel Vickers Loren Mcclenachan 115

Part IV Methods in Historical Marine Ecology 135

Chapter 8 Uncovering the Ocean's Past Heike K. Lotze Jon M. Erlandson Marah J. Hardt Richard D. Norris Kaustuv Roy Tim D. Smith Christine R. Whitcraet 137

Chapter 9 Whales, Logbooks, and DNA Stephen R. Palumbi 163

Part V From Fisheries Management to Ecosystems 175

Chapter 10 Management in the Gulf of Maine Andrew A. Rosenberg Karen E. Alexander Jamie M. Cournane 177

Chapter 11 Lessons from Coral Reefs Enric Sala Jeremy B.C. Jackson 193

Epilogue: Shifting Baselines for the Future Jeremy B. C. Jackson Karen E. Alexander 205

Notes 207

Contributors 275

Index 283

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