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The Aquatic Frontier: Oysters and Aquaculture in the Progressive Era (Environmental History of the Northeast)

The Aquatic Frontier: Oysters and Aquaculture in the Progressive Era (Environmental History of the Northeast)

Current price: $26.95
Publication Date: May 23rd, 2019
University of Massachusetts Press
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Although few remember their former significance, oysters were one of the largest U.S. fisheries at their peak in the late nineteenth century. As the fishery industrialized on-and offshore, oyster farms and canning factories spread along the Eastern Seaboard, with overharvesting becoming increasingly common. During the Progressive Era, state governments founded new agencies to cope with this problem and control this expanding economy. Regulators faced a choice: keep elaborate conservation systems based on common property rights or develop new ones with private, hatchery-stocked aquaculture farms. The tradition-preserving solution won, laying the groundwork for modern oyster management.

The Aquatic Frontier explores the forms this debate took between 1870 and 1920 in law enforcement, legislative advising, natural science, and oyster cartography. Samuel P. Hanes argues that the effort to centralize and privatize the industry failed due to a lack of understanding of the complex social-ecological systems in place—a common dilemma for environmental managers in this time period and for fisheries management confronting dangers from dwindling populations today.

About the Author

SAMUEL P. HANES is assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Maine.

Praise for The Aquatic Frontier: Oysters and Aquaculture in the Progressive Era (Environmental History of the Northeast)

"Hanes's gift for summary and analysis means this book is portable. People from fields beyond history—anthropology, political science, geography, hopefully even fisheries managers—will find this version of history easy to digest."—Matthew Morse Booker, author of Down by the Bay: San Francisco's History between the Tides

"Hanes builds upon the foundational scholarship of several relevant fields, including environmental history, in interesting ways while also effectively drawing upon unused or under-utilized archival resources."—Christine Keiner, author of The Oyster Question: Scientists, Watermen, and the Maryland Chesapeake Bay since 1880

"This volume is an interesting blend of history, economics, and science, in which Hanes manages to merge these disparate fields into an effective study of early environmental advocacy."—CHOICE

"Samuel Hanes focuses on oysters and the in-between world of estuaries to examine several poorly documented issues . . . One of Hanes's strengths is synthesizing local stories into regional patterns for New England, the mid-Atlantic, and the Chesapeake without flattening the fishery's ethnic, class, and technological tensions."—Environmental History

"This book is not just useful to historians of maritime environments but to any scholar looking at how social, cultural, and political forces affect resource management."—H-Net Reviews