To celebrate National Heritage Week 2021, the Marine Institute has launched a new Interactive Marine Archive. Two rare historical collections on Irish sea and inland fisheries have been digitised and made openly available and interactive.

The Interactive Marine Archive includes two collections, the Sea and Inland Fisheries reports from 1839 to 1987, and the Scientific Investigations collection, which spans from 1901 to 1926.

The Sea and Inland Fisheries reports consist of books published yearly, including important baseline fisheries data collected in Ireland from 1852 to 1987. This shows what fish were being taken from Ireland’s seas, where they were landed, and their values at market. It also covers any novel information for the years, such as boat licences and other exceptional industry news.

There are also records on annual fish catches per port and gear type for about 100 years, including information about the species and weight of fish caught, the type of boats and even who was working on the boats at the time.

The Scientific Investigation time series from 1901 to 1926 contains papers and journal articles on new scientific discoveries – such as how Maude Delap closed the lifecycle of the jellyfish, and the deep-sea documentations of Anne Massey.

“These reports contain valuable data about the pre-exploitation state of Irish fisheries,” said Stephanie Ronan, librarian at the Marine Institute. “Digitising these historical books, and extracting key information, enables these data to be visualised and explored, making them easily and widely accessible to researchers and the public today.”

“It is only in examining the past, and beginning our journey of discovery with the appropriate baseline data, that we can offer advice on the impacts of climate change and fishing to government. For example, the work done 100 years ago on the herring fisheries in Ireland – which yielded tens of thousands of tonnes annually, while today the yields are in the mere hundreds of tonnes – shows the impacts that climatic changes had even then,” said Dr Maurice Clarke, marine ecosystems lead at the Marine Institute.

An interactive timeline allows you to travel through 150 years of Irish fisheries history and see some of the highlights for each year from the Sea and Inland Fisheries reports and Scientific Investigations series. The Interactive Marine Archive also includes annual landing data for species such as cod, haddock and salmon.

You can also explore the work and achievements of many of the key scientists in Ireland, such as Ernest Holt, George Farran, Arthur Went and the Marine Institute’s John Molloy (1940), and find out more about the vessels that supported Irish fisheries research through the years, from the 150ft steam liner Helga, used in 1901, to the Marine Institute’s present-day RV Celtic Explorer and RV Celtic Voyager.

The project was funded under the EMFF Marine Biodiversity Scheme.

To access the Interactive Marine Archive, click here.

This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.30 here.


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