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The Social Construction of Fishing, 1949

Carmel Finley, Department of History, Oregon State University

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Abstract

The theoretical construction known as maximum sustained yield (MSY) exists in three realms: as science, as policy, and as a legal concept. Despite substantial criticism by scientists and economists, MSY remains at the heart of fisheries science and fisheries management. This paper suggests that its institutional resilience springs more from its policy and legal roles than from its scientific strength. Maximum sustained yield was adopted as the goal of American fisheries policy in 1949. Between 1949 and 1955, the State Department pushed for its adoption internationally. In this paper, I first look briefly at the relationship between fishing and foreign policy goals during this period. Second, I look at how fishing was understood during 1949, when the American High Seas Fishing Policy was adopted. Third, I look at the actions of the 1955 International Technical Conference on the Conservation of the Living Resources of the Sea and how American actions shaped the development of fisheries science and the modern fishery management process.

Key words

fisheries history; fisheries management; Milner B. Schaefer; salmon; surplus production theory; Wilbert M. Chapman; William C. Herrington
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087