Shifting Baselines
312 pages, 6 x 9
Release Date:29 Aug 2011

Shifting Baselines

The Past and the Future of Ocean Fisheries

Island Press

Shifting Baselines explores the real-world implications ofa groundbreaking idea: we must understand the oceans of the past toprotect the oceans of the future. In 1995, acclaimed marine biologistDaniel Pauly coined the term "shifting baselines" to describea phenomenon of lowered expectations, in which each generation regardsa progressively poorer natural world as normal. This seminal volumeexpands on Pauly's work, showing how skewed visions of the pasthave led to disastrous marine policies and why historical perspectiveis critical to revitalize fisheries and ecosystems.

Edited by marine ecologists Jeremy Jackson and Enric Sala, andhistorian Karen Alexander, the book brings together knowledge fromdisparate disciplines to paint a more realistic picture of pastfisheries. The authors use case studies on the cod fishery and theconnection between sardine and anchovy populations, among others, toexplain various methods for studying historic trends and the intricaterelationships between species. Subsequent chapters offerrecommendations about both specific research methods and effectivemanagement. This practical information is framed by inspiring essays byCarl Safina and Randy Olson on a personal experience of shiftingbaselines and the importance of human stories in describing thisphenomenon to a broad public.

While each contributor brings a different expertise to bear, allagree on the importance of historical perspective for effectivefisheries management. Readers, from students to professionals, willbenefit enormously from this informed hindsight.

Jeremy B.C. Jackson is the director of the Center forMarine Biodiversity and Conservation at the Scripps Institution ofOceanography. Karen Alexander is a historian who iscurrently the project coordinator of the Gulf of Maine Cod Project.Enric Sala is a National Geographic Society Fellow.
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