Applied Marine Environmental History in the Indo-Pacific: Problems, Sources and Opportunities

McCusker Conference Centre, Murdoch University, Monday 16 December

Venue: Murdoch University (McCusker Conference Centre, Room 390.2.006) Date: Monday 16 December 2019

The Indo-Pacific is a flashpoint for several pressing marine environmental problems – overfishing and resource depletion, habitat degradation, pollution and biodiversity conservation, with acute consequences for food security and the social and economic sustainability of coastal and maritime communities. Climate change, population growth, and consumption patterns linked to the rising middle class in China and elsewhere suggests the urgency of these challenges will endure deep into the twenty-first century.

Globally, marine environmental problems are increasingly informed by longer- term or historical understanding of the drivers and extent of change across time. Such awareness reflects the progress of the inter-related fields of Marine Environmental History and Historical Marine Ecology since the early 2000s. For the Indo-Pacific, however, the potential for developing baselines to inform management and conservation and better understand the drivers and patterns of resource exploitation and trade remains comparatively unrealised, despite several important studies and past research collaborations. At the heart of this problem lies the fundamental methodological challenges confronting historians and other scholars working in this culturally and socially diverse region, highlighting the need for innovative, interdisciplinary solutions to investigating human-environment interaction in Indo-Pacific seas.

Ten years after the HMAP Asia project first addressed these challenges, and five years after the publication of this project’s case studies, a new opportunity has arisen to consider the problems, sources and opportunities for marine environmental history in the Indo-Pacific, broadly defined. This workshop will focus on recent and current research that addresses the following questions:

  • What are the historical ‘turning points’ in relation to marine resource exploitation, marine conservation, and coastal or maritime community development in Indo-Pacific seas?
  • What can the data sources, methodologies and research outcomes of historians and social scientists contribute to the real-world challenges faced by fisheries managers, conservationists, and community development experts?
  • What are the challenges associated with historical research on human- environment interaction across Indo-Pacific seas, how are they being addressed?

The workshop is jointly convened by Dr Joseph Christensen, A/Prof. Pedro Machado, and Dr Kathleen Schwerdter-Manez, and supported by the Asia Research Centre.

Submissions are invited for 20-minute presentations address the key workshop questions. Abstracts of c.250 words (including title) should be sent to [email protected] by 1 August 2019.

See also:

Image: Report on the zoological collections made in the Indo-Pacific Ocean during the voyage of H.M.S. ‘Alert’ 1881-2.