Institute of Advanced Studies

Kathleen Schwerdtner Máñez Lecture


Further information

Looking Back To Go Forward: why marine management needs lessons from the past

A public lecture by Dr Kathleen Schwerdtner Máñez, Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology.

Kathleen Schwerdtner MáñezOver the last two decades, marine science has taken a historical turn. Global research initiatives as well as numerous individual studies have investigated social-ecological systems from European marshes to Pacific islands. Results show that human impacts on coastal and marine areas are often much older and more intense than previously thought. System states, which were thought to be pristine, in fact had already experienced some kind of anthropogenic influence, which required the definition of new baselines for their management. The recently established field of marine environmental history provides methods and tools that allow for a pushing back of the chronological limits of our knowledge.

This lecture introduced marine environmental history (MEH) and its relevance for marine management. It presented some of the underlying concepts, theories and methods, and present the first textbook in MEH. Case studies from the Indonesian Archipelago were used to show the practical relevance of information about the past for modern marine management.

Dr Kathleen Schwerdtner Máñez is a human ecologist with a strong background in ecology and social sciences. She has studied landscape ecology and nature conservation, and holds a PhD in Agricultural Economy.

For more than a decade, Dr Schwerdtner Máñez has worked on small-scale fisheries, including European inland pond fisheries as well as coastal fisheries in tropical developing countries. Since 2007, she has been a member of the social-ecological systems research group at the Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT). From 2010, she was involved in environmental history as member of the Steering Committee of the History of Marine Animals Populations Project (HMAP). Since 2014, she has been a member the Executive Steering Committee of HMAP´s successor, the Oceans Past Platform (OPP). In OPP, Dr Schwerdtner Máñez leads the working group “Gendered Seas”, studying the roles of women and men in the exploitation of marine resources over time.  She is the editor of the first textbook on marine environmental history, Perspectives on Oceans Past (2016), which contains a chapter on gender issues in fisheries that she has authored. 

This lecture was presented by the Institute of Advanced Studies and the UWA Oceans Institute.