There is now widespread agreement that fish stocks are severely depleted and fishing
activity must be limited. At the same time, the promise of the green economy appears
to offer profitable new opportunities for a sustainable seafood industry. What do these
seemingly contradictory ideas of natural limits and green growth mean in practice?
What do they tell us more generally about current transformations to the way nature
is valued and managed? And who suffers and who benefits from these new ecological
arrangements? Far from abstract policy considerations, Patrick Bresnihan shows how
new approaches to environmental management are transforming the fisheries and
generating novel forms of exclusion in the process.
Transforming the Fisheries examines how scientific, economic, and regulatory
responses to the problem of overfishing have changed over the past twenty years.
Based on fieldwork in a commercial fishing port in Ireland, Bresnihan weaves together
ethnography, science, history, and social theory to explore the changing relationships
between knowledge, nature, and the market. For Bresnihan, many of the key concepts
that govern contemporary environmental thinking—such as scarcity, sustainability, the
commons, and enclosure—should be reconsidered in light of the collapse of global
fish stocks and the different ways this problem is being addressed. Only by considering
these concepts anew can we begin to reinvent the ecological commons we need for the
Patrick Bresnihan is a member of the Authority Research Network and an Assistant Professor in environmental geography at Trinity College, Dublin.