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1 Burnside Oceanography- Fisheries

All the Fish in the Sea: Maximum Sustainable Yield and the Failure of Fisheries Management


All the Fish in the Sea: Maximum Sustainable Yield and the Failure of Fisheries Management Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Between 1949 and 1955, the State Department pushed for an international fisheries policy grounded in maximum sustainable yield (MSY). The concept is based on a confidence that scientists can predict, theoretically, the largest catch that can be taken from a species’ stock over an indefinite period. And while it was modified in 1996 with passage of the Sustained Fisheries Act, MSY is still at the heart of modern American fisheries management. As fish populations continue to crash, however, it is clear that MSY is itself not sustainable. Indeed, the concept has been widely criticized by scientists for ignoring several key factors in fisheries management and has led to the devastating collapse of many fisheries.
Carmel Finley reveals that the fallibility of MSY lies at its very inception—as a tool of government rather than science. The foundational doctrine of the MSY emerged at a time when the US government was using science to promote and transfer Western knowledge and technology, and to ensure that American ships and planes would have free passage through the world’s seas and skies. Finley charts the history of US fisheries science using MSY as her focus, and in particular its application to halibut, tuna, and salmon fisheries. Fish populations the world over are threatened, and All the Fish in the Sea will help sound warnings of the effect of any management policies divested from science itself.

Book News Annotation:

The policy of maximum sustainable yield (MSY), instituted internationally in the 1950s, aimed to manage fish stocks so that they could endure; but the aims have not been achieved. Since the 1970s, there has been plenty of literature about why the policy isn't working, but Finley (history, Oregon State U.) offers a fresh approach. She explores the political roots of MSY, explaining in this illuminating study that rather than a step forward as it is often described, "MSY was a political and an economic construction before it was a scientific one, and the policy and legal implications have acted as a straitjacket on the ability of scientists to incorporate new scientific understandings into management." Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

About the Author

Carmel Finley teaches in the Department of History at Oregon State University. She is coeditor of Two Paths toward Sustainable Forests: Public Values in Canada and the United States.


Table of Contents

1          The Quest for Rational Fishing
2          The Confrontation at Bristol Bay
3          The Pacific Fisheries Frontier
4          The Fish War with Japan
5          Shaping Fisheries Science
6          The Line in the Water
7          The Road to Rome
8          The Meeting in Rome
Conclusion: Fishing “Up” to MSY
Notes Index

Product Details

Finley, Carmel
University of Chicago Press
Marine Biiology
Nature Studies-World Wildlife
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
16 halftones, 3 line drawings
9 x 6 in

Related Subjects

Business » General
Science and Mathematics » Agriculture » Aquaculture
Science and Mathematics » Agriculture » Sustainable Living
Science and Mathematics » History of Science » General
Science and Mathematics » Nature Studies » Ocean and Marine Biology
Science and Mathematics » Nature Studies » World Wildlife
Science and Mathematics » Oceanography » Fisheries
Science and Mathematics » Oceanography » General
Science and Mathematics » Physics » Meteorology

All the Fish in the Sea: Maximum Sustainable Yield and the Failure of Fisheries Management Used Hardcover
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Product details 224 pages University of Chicago Press - English 9780226249667 Reviews:
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