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Gass, Gillian Linda.
Managing marine life :scientific and practical work at two British marine stations, 1884-1902.
Ph. D. -- University of Toronto, 2006
Ottawa :Library and Archives Canada = Bibliothèque et Archives Canada,[2007]
4 microfiches
Includes bibliographical references.
The rise of a large-scale trawl-fishing industry in Britain during the second half of the nineteenth century had impacts beyond the nation's economy and food supply. As this industry, and the fish upon which it was based, became indispensable, anxieties grew that the trawlers were overfishing Britain's coastal waters, damaging young fish and sending too-small fish to market. A succession of Royal Commissions and parliamentary inquiries were uniform in their calls for marine fisheries science: scientists, with their privileged access to nature, were thought better placed than either fishermen or Commissioners to find the answers that would guide how Britain's trawl fisheries were managed. British marine naturalists like E. Ray Lankester of the Marine Biological Association (MBA), eager to establish marine research laboratories along their own coastline, saw their opportunity. In 1884, a small marine research laboratory opened at St. Andrews, Scotland, organized and staffed by William Carmichael M'Intosh; four years later, a larger coastal laboratory opened at Plymouth, organized by the MBA and staffed year-round by a Director and a Naturalist, paid workers dedicated to studying economically important food fish species. These stations had been founded in large part on the basis of promises that the scientific work undertaken there would be of practical value to Britain's fisheries. This dissertation examines what keeping those promises looked like. J. T. Cunningham, the Plymouth Laboratory's first staff Naturalist, was the embodiment of the MBA's promises to government and industry, his work simultaneously scientific and practical in method and outcome. In his studies of the growth, development, and colouration of flatfish like plaice, sole, and flounders, Cunningham had to develop supply chains of specimens coming into the laboratory and inventories of specimens living in the laboratory's tanks. M'Intosh, too, traced the development and migrations of young flatfish while developing sophisticated biological arguments against the possibility of overfishing the sea. Both men, and both laboratories, denied the distinction between scientific and practical work on food fish; the fish themselves figured equally as organisms and as commodities, as objects of study, exchange, and consumption.