Fisheries of the eastern coast of the Azov Sea in the late 18th – 19th century – Organization, infrastructure and everyday life
The idea of North is a multivalent concept. It is geographical, but more than just Arctic; it is both an imagined space and a place of harsh challenges. These challenges resonate with each other across the northern world, shaping different areas of the North in many similar ways. Distinctive northern environments are created as humans adapt to climatic and geographic conditions while simultaneously adapting the landscapes to their own needs with technologies, trade, and social organization. This collection of essays argues that the unique environments of the North have been borne of the relationship between humans and nature. Approaching the topic through the lens of environmental history, the contributors examine a broad range of geographies, including those of Iceland and other islands in the Northern Atlantic, Sweden, Finland, Russia, the Pacific Northwest, and Canada, over a time span ranging from CE 800 to 2000. Northscapes is bound together by the intellectual project of investigating the North both as an imagined and mythologized space and as an environment shaped by human technology. The North offers a valuable analytical framework that surpasses nation-states and transgresses political and historical borders. This volume develops rich explorations of the entanglements of environmental and technological history in the northern regions of the globe.
The paper describes changing patterns of commercial fish catch in the downstream part of the Neva River and the eastern Gulf of Finland and analyzes drivers of these changes for the period 1929-1995. We summarize catch data on 20 species and species groups of fishes and lamprey, as well as available abiotic data (salinity, temperature and water transparency). Water transparency gradually decreased during the 20th century being inseparable from a number of non-quantified anthropogenic factors, thus it can be used as an integral index of anthropogenic loading on the ecosystem. Because fisheries statistics were not published regularly, catch data were extracted from archives and various publications. Fishing locations, gear and target species changed over time in relation to each other, reflecting technological developments in fisheries, commercial demands for fishery products and the abundance of fish populations. Until the 18-19th centuries, fisheries took place mostly in rivers where weirs and set nets targeted sturgeon, salmon and whitefish. By the end of the 19th century, herring and smelt were the main targets of fixed nets in coastal areas. A century later, the main commercial species, herring, was harvested with pelagic trawls operating offshore in the Gulf. This evolution in fisheries, along with other anthropogenic activities, caused severe declines in diadromous species. Spawning migrations that make them easy to catch, and their high market value, make diadromous fish more vulnerable than other groups. Canonical correspondence analysis showed that catches of most diadromous species decreased with increasing transparency, which may reflect their response to anthropogenic pressure. Marine and freshwater fish suffered from anthropogenic pressure, but to a lesser extent probably because of a wider distribution and dispersal, and more capital-intensive fishing methods. Catches of marine species, except herring, significantly increased in the 1970-1980s when salinity was comparatively high. We found no correlation of fish catches with temperature.