The closing of the frontier: A history of the marine fisheries of Southeast Asia, c.1850-2000

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This book is the first on the history of the marine fisheries of Southeast Asia. It takes as its central theme the movement of fisheries into new fishing grounds, particularly the diverse ecosystems that make up the seas of Southeast Asia. This process accelerated between the 1950s and 1970s in what the author calls “the great fish race”. Catches soared as the population of the region grew, demand from Japan and North America for shrimps and tuna increased, and fishers adopted more efficient ways of locating, catching, and preserving fish. But the great fish race soon brought about the severe depletion of one fish population after another, while pollution and the destruction of mangroves and coral reefs degraded fish habitats. Today the relentless movement into new fishing grounds has come to an end, for there are no new fishing grounds to exploit. The frontier of fisheries has closed. The challenge now is to exploit the seas in ways that preserve the diversity of marine life while providing the people of the region with a source of food long into the future. John G. Butcher teaches in the Department of International Business and Asian Studies, Griffith University, Australia. He is the author of The British in Malaya (1979) and co-editor (with Howard Dick) of The Rise and Fall of Revenue Farming (1993).

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