In the twentieth century, experimental science became the primary intermediary between society and nature, a development that environmental historians need to consider more seriously. This book offers a rare opportunity to see this medium from the perspective of those on the front lines of research and development. The St. Andrews Biological Station is located on the Bay of Fundy, one of the most unique marine ecosystems in the world. The chapters, drafted by station scientists for a 2008 centennial celebration, bring a deep and intimate understanding to the history of oceanography, marine biology, environmental science, benthic ecology, and flow studies as these disciplines were forged in the give-and-take of field and laboratory study. Historian of science Jennifer Hubbard traces the culture of the station back to the eighteenth-century gentleman-scientist, pointing out that in an era of limited state bureaucracies, voluntary institutions perform functions later filled by government departments. Canada adopted this upper-class service ethic, and as a result the Biological Station was staffed early on by independent scientists. The station adopted German sustained-yield forestry models to marine science, and these principles spread during the 1930s as researchers realized they provided a better analogy for fisheries than the American idea patterned on agricultural cultivation. The first Atlantic Biological Station was a floating platform moving from place to place; only in 1908 was it fixed to St. Andrews. Early studies included hydrological flows, fish processing, and resource inventories, but in the 1920s the station shifted to methods of intensifying fishing effort on the understanding that some species were underexploited. In the 1940s and 1950s, the station began assessing fishing impacts with an eye to regulation, and in the next two decades it explored the science of industrial pollution. Women, according to Mary Needler Arai, were important contributors to these efforts but were held back by lack of recognition, prohibitions against serving on high-seas research ships, restrictive field garb, and the expectation they would leave the profession if they married. Nevertheless, Arai found a host of women to commemorate, working in areas ranging from marine algae and invertebrate genetics to plant morphology. The station excelled in applied science. Submersibles allowed researchers to study the efficiency and impact of drags and trawls, and other technologies allowed them to chart the bay’s seawater circulation, which led to a keener understanding of phytoplankton blooms, finfish larvae drift, and the dispersion of industrial pollution. In the 1950s, researchers focused on scallop towing gear, oyster cultivation, and the impact of grounds closures. They traced Atlantic salmon life cycles, studied smolt predators, and gauged the effects of DDT runoff from the forest industry. The salmon program ended in the early 1970s when the wild fishery shut down, but research shifted almost immediately to salmon farming. Recent research has gravitated to the marine environment, covering a wide range of questions from various species–habitat interactions to specific environmental threats. Among the latter was a proposal to dam the huge Passamaquoddy Bay in order to generate hydropower from its 20-foot tides. Partly because of its environmental impact, the project was abandoned. The station also conducted experiments in oyster culture, lobster holding pens, and scallop, salmon, halibut, and haddock production. In 1986 the station inaugurated a Salmonid Demonstration and Development Farm patterned after land-based experimental farms all across Canada. Hubbard, Wildish, Stevenson, and their colleagues present marine science as a negotiation between social need and ocean environment. As an in-house history, it is sometimes narrow in scope, but as a study in how scientists learn from, respond to, and occasionally lead in the development of marine fisheries, it is an important contribution to environmental history. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Society for Environmental History and the Forest History Society. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: email@example.com This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)
Environmental History – Oxford University Press
Published: Apr 1, 2018
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