My book of choice this week has been Modern Fishing Gear of the World, Volume I, a collection of papers written by scientists and innovators in fisheries technology. The book came about through the FOA, as it was a conference in 1957 when all the writers met up and discussed, well, modern fishing gear. It sold out, and my (father’s) version is a third reprind from 1981.
This sizeable tome was first published in 1959 – and, as Hilmar Kristjonsson points out in his introduction, technology in the 20th century develops faster (and bigger) than all the centuries before it. So what was so new and important, that the first of 3 big books talking about fishing will be published? Hilmar goes on to talk about the 3 main technological leaps: mechanisation, echo sounding and synthetic fibres, which together have changed fishing as we know it. But it not just technology that makes the difference – the intent is also a key factor. The drive to create and try new things in a thorough and scientific way changes everything; the need to understand every aspect and variable of fishing, from fish behaviour to physics.
Like most good books, it pays off to read the introduction – Hilmar here starts off with a few facts. Fish production in in 1957 is almost 30 million metric tonnes; a “few years ago” it considered absurd that any more than 25 million metric tonnes would be possible. As of 2010, total global production was 148.5 million tonnes. Needless to say, things have changed and developed a lot more since 1957.
These books are invaluable to me because it does something important to the whole PhD concept: documentation. It’s not that I don’t have any faith in first hand accounts – rather, I am going to rely on them. But what I need is dated, pinned down fact that I can easily read, quote and reference. Which is why I have acquired my father’s copy and absconded with it over to Esbjerg. Not to worry , though. I’ll sure to bring it back – eventually!