An Environmental History of the Northwest Fisheries Crisis
Publication Year: 1999
Published by: University of Washington Press
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Foreword: Speaking for Salmon, by William Cronon
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Conservation biologists speak these days of "keystone species," organisms so central to the functioning of an ecosystem, so tied to a multitude of other creatures, that their removal can have far-reaching, even devastating consequences. In the face of growing extinction rates worldwide, the possibility that the disappearance of one particular organism might carry away many...
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My name stands alone on the cover of this book, but I accrued many fiscal, intellectual, and personal debts during its writing. The following institutions and individuals deserve my deepest thanks. The Department of History at the University of Oregon helped me with a one-year teaching fellowship...
Introduction - A Durable Crisis
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Pacific Salmon have mattered for millennia, but the bond between humans and fish has changed radically over time. Huge runs once sustained aboriginal societies and later enriched industrial and sports fisheries, but now their scarcity threatens lives and economies. Salmon are still revered and coveted by some, but others fear and dismiss them. ...
1. Dependence, Respect, and Moderation
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To understand what went wrong with the industrial fishery and why modern management has failed, we should first step back and ask whether there was ever a successful fishery and what success might mean. Indians, as they do so often in environmental issues, have come to represent a native Eden. ...
2. Historicizing Overfishing
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Popular imagination misconstrued the aboriginal fishery, simplifying it as a benign activity. By positing that Edenic past, we have been able to explain the subsequent decline of salmon as a fall from grace. This quasi-Iapsarian story is tidy and linear. It begins with the expulsion of Indians from Eden. ...
3. Inventing a Panacea
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Although many Americans recognized the inroads which development was making on salmon habitat, they regarded change as an unfortunate but unavoidable cost of "civilization." Their solace was the burgeoning notion that science would enable civilization to compensate for the destruction it caused. Science, the modern panacea, would save salmon. ...
4. Making Salmon
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George Perkins Marsh, Spencer Baird, Livingston Stone, and Marshall McDonald greatly influenced the course of American fishery management. The system that Baird envisioned placed the federal government in a supplementary role as technical advisor and supplier of fish. The U.S. Fish Commission (USFC) would introduce fish and restore runs, but it would not subsidize fisheries. ...
5. Taking Salmon
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Fish culturists prophesied an endless supply of salmon, but when hatcheries failed to deliver immediately on that promise, the dream of a fishery without restrictions seemed to falter. With that dream also went all hope for harmony among fishers. Starting in the early 1880s, fishers began to compensate for declining harvests by attacking their competitors. ...
6. Urban Salmon
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Sportsmen loom large in historical interpretations of modern conservation because some scholars have argued that conservation's roots were urban and elite and that hunters and anglers were the "spearheads" of reform after 1850. Sportsmen's love for nature thus prompted them to decry the despoliation of wilderness when few others cared, but sportsmen did more than criticize. ...
7. Remaking Salmon
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Fish culturists and fishery scientists have debated hatchery practices since the 1870s. They have argued over the effect of predators on survival, whether to protect fry by retaining them in ponds, what to feed ponded fish, and when to release them. The language and conduct of these debates reveal much about the politics of hatchery policy. ...
8. Taking Responsibility
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The way we remember the past shapes the way we understand the present and prepare for the future. Thus the stories we tell about the past are critical. This is why history matters and why Americans contest its content so bitterly. History is political. Its ability to legitimate or condemn activities of the state, society, and markets makes it a force in public debates...
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Commercial fishing and maritime shipping are modern paradoxes. Although fishers and sailors still play crucial roles in feeding and supplying society, most consumers are oblivious to their labors. The market system that moves goods around the world so efficiently has effectively separated products from the identity of their producers. ...
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Publication Year: 1999