Decline and diversity in Swedish seas: Environmental narratives in marine history, science and policy.
AbstractBefore the mid-twentieth century, there was no comprehensive narrative about empirical conditions in Swedish seas. Around 1970, this view changed profoundly. In line with growing research and the emergence of 'the environment' as a defining concept, conditions in Swedish seas were framed as a 'narrative of decline'. Marine scientists have since recorded more diverse developments than are described by an overall declensionist narrative. Data show trends of interrupted decline, variability and even recovery, taking place at least partly in response to effective policy and legislation. We suggest that beyond the specialised fields of marine sciences and marine environmental history, the overarching narrative of decline has persisted, paying little attention to local and regional particularities as well as cultural and political dimensions of the marine environment. This overly uniform narrative risks obscuring historical reality and, hence, fails to adequately inform policy and the public about developments and outcomes of interventions in Swedish seas.