The article explores the connection between Russia and the marine environment during the seventeenth century prior to the modernizing reforms of Peter the Great. Drawing from archival sources, it traces the links binding local and regional actors (e.g. state officials, local fishermen, monastic authorities, etc.) to an array of maritime resources and actors. Emphasis is placed on analysing the routine practices associated with natural resource use evident at this time in order to reveal a relatively complex management system underpinning Russia's exploitation of the maritime environment.