Multidisciplinary perspectives on the history of human interactions with life in the ocean

Alison MacDiarmid, Brian MacKenzie, Henn Ojaveer

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There is an essentially circular interaction between the human social system and the marine ecosystem. The Oceans Past V Conference "Multidisciplinary perspectives on the history of human interactions with life in the ocean" held in Tallinn, Estonia, in May 2015 was an opportunity for the presentation and discussion of papers on a diverse array of topics that examined this socio-ecological system from a historical perspective. Here we provide background to the disciplines participating in the conference and to the conference itself. We summarize the conference papers that appear in this special volume of the ICES JMS and highlight issues which arose during general discussion. We make two conclusions. First, to have greater impact and ensure more efficient use of knowledge gained from marine historical ecology (MHE) and marine environmental history (MEH) in ecosystem-based management and related policy development, practitioners need to work more routinely with population and ecological modellers and statisticians. This will allow greater processing of the available historical data to derive ecologically meaningful properties that can then be used to assess the ecological impact of long-term changes of affected species and define appropriate and realistic management targets. Second, increased multi-and trans-disciplinary effort is required to better understand the relative importance of different human demographic, technological, economic, and cultural drivers on the patterns, intensities and trajectories of human activities affecting marine ecosystems.
Original languageEnglish
JournalICES Journal of Marine Science
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)1382-1385
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • marine environmental history
  • marine historical ecology
  • oceans past
  • socio-ecological system


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