The Development of Biological Studies in the Ocean Environment

  • T. R. Parsons
Conference paper


During the 1800s the first organized attempts were made to study the world’s oceans and their resources. A brief resumé of the dates for the establishment of some of the more important organizations and laboratories is given in Table 1. In setting up these organizations and laboratories it was well recognized at the time that the study of the fish of the sea could not be separated from a study of their environment. This is found in various quotations written at the time. For example, the work of the U.S. Fish Commission (Goode 1884) was described as being divided into three sections. The first of these was “The systematic investigation of the waters of the United States and the biological and physical problems which they present.” This purpose was reinforced by the first Commissioner, Professor Baird, who insisted “… that to study the food-fishes would be of little importance, and that useful conclusions must needs rest upon a broad foundation of investigations purely scientific in character.” This statement was supported by a subsequent Commissioner of Fisheries, the Hon. Marshall Macdonald (Prince 1907) who said:
The knowledge to be obtained by such investigations is absolutely necessary as a foundation upon which to build an intelligent, rational administration of our fishery interests. A knowledge of life in its relation to environment is an important subject which biological investigators have not heretofore sufficiently dealt with, but which, it seems to me, is necessary in order to give practical value to special studies of different species. After all, it is the relations and interdependence of life to the aggregate and of conditions influencing
Table 1

Some of the earliest organizations and laboratories founded for the purpose of conducting studies on the biology of the sea encing it adversely or otherwise, that mainly concern those who are seeking to apply scientific methods of investigation to economic problems.



The Royal Commission to Investigate Fisheries Problems


Marine Laboratory of the Prussian Commission (Kiel)


Commission zur Wissenschaftlichen Untersuchungen der

Deutschen Meere


United States Commission of Fish and Fisheries


Stazione Zoologica (Naples)


U.S. Fisheries Commission Laboratory (Woods Hole)


Marine Biological Association Laboratory (Plymouth)


International Council for the Exploration of the Sea


it adversely or otherwise, that mainly concern those who are seeking to apply scientific methods of investigation to economic problems.


Fishery Science Ocean Environment Early Life History Lower Trophic Level Maximum Sustainable Yield 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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