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The Fisherman's Problem: Ecology and Law in the California Fisheries, 1850-1980.

"The Fisherman's Problem" by Arthur F. McEvoy, subtitled "Ecology and Law in the California Fisheries, 18501980," has been published by the Cambridge University Press, 510 North Avenue, New Rochelle, NY 10801. McEvoy, Associate Professor of History at Northwestern University, analyzes, from an historic perspective, the most important fisheries of California in terms of the development of public policy. In doing so, he has provided a unique synthesis of information from such fields as marine biology, ecology, law, economics, and anthropology.

The author reviews the various ways that humans have harvested and managed California fishes, beginning with the fisheries and fishery management of the Native Americans and the early settlers and immigrants. In addition, the mechanization of the fisheries is discussed, along with the interaction of fishery biology and politics and the inception and work of various fisheries commissions or committees. He also provides a look at some of the personalities involved and their contributions, as well as the successes and failures in managing and developing the State's fishery resources.

In a sense, the author has presented an overall history of the California fisheries as a "laboratory example" of the complex, interrelated problems that face many fisheries elsewhere. He also chronicles the fisheries' sometimes violent ups and downs and the clashes between different groups of fishermen. In the end, the author does not make any specific recommendations for future fisheries policy. While not all may agree with all of his interpretations or selection of examples, the strength of the book lies in its synthesis and examination of historical resource utilization, past policies, societal and political pressures, and their effects on the fisheries. Appendices give climate records for 1853-1980 and the standing crops from 1800 to 197O of three coastal schooling fishes (Pacific sardine and mackerel and northern anchovy). Extensive notes and a bibliography are included. Indexed, the hardbound 368-page volume is available from the publisher.
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Publication:Marine Fisheries Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 22, 1988
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