Fishing for Food and Fodder: The Transnational Environmental History of Humboldt Current Fisheries in Peru and Chile since 1945
This dissertation explores the history of industrial fisheries in the Humboldt Current marine ecosystem where workers, scientists, and entrepreneurs transformed Peru and Chile into two of the top five fishing nations after World War II. As fishmeal industrialists raided the oceans for proteins to nourish chickens, hogs, and farmed fish, the global "race for fish" was marked by the clash of humanitarian goals and business interests over whether the fish should be used to ameliorate malnutrition in the developing world or extracted and their nutrients exported as mass commodities, at greater profit, as a building block for the food chain in the global North. The epicenter of the fishmeal industry in the 1960s was the port city of Chimbote, Peru, where its cultural, social, and ecological impacts were wrenching. After overfishing and a catastrophic El Niño changed the course of Peruvian fisheries in 1972, Chile came to dominate world markets by the early 1980s due to shifting marine ecologies along its coast that shaped the trajectory of the ports of Iquique and Talcahuano. As Peruvian anchoveta stocks recovered in the 1990s, new environmentalist voices--from local residents to international scientists--emerged to contest unsustainable fisheries practices. This study demonstrates how global, transnational, and translocal connections shaped Humboldt Current fisheries as people struggled to understand the complex correlation between fish populations, extractive activity, and oceanic oscillations within a changing geopolitical context.
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