Historical accounts of the development of a modern science of aquaculture have tended to focus upon one or two states, particular interest groups, and, or, specific species of fish. This small and narrowly focused body of literature has left the existence of a broader movement, one that ultimately spanned the entire globe by the second half of the nineteenth century and included many dozens of aquatic species, largely unappreciated and unexamined. This essay highlights the significance of the French origins of that modern aquacultural revolution and traces the movement’s diffusion into wider Western intellectual and ecological peripheries.
DURING NAPOLEON III’s Second Empire, French scientists, naturalists, and imperial authorities joined forces to launch a new campaign of conquest. It was a campaign that took advantage of the best French scientific and bureaucratic assets to elevate the last unconquered region of the planet—its aquatic wilderness—to a level of domestication. The French, responding to a perception that a “terrestrial bias” had prevented the wise exploitation of the illimitable potential of the earth’s waters, developed state policies and initiated scientific inquiries that ultimately led to a major shift in human attitudes concerning aquatic ecosystems. In this case, it was no less than the commencement of a Western scientific aquacultural revolution that ushered in a global, and coextensive, cultural and ecological transformation.
Aquaculture, simply defined, is the systematic cultivation of the natural produce of aquatic habitats. Its etymological kinship with agriculture is obvious: In the terrestrial context, “cultivation” suggests the breaking of land for planting crops and improving disorganized wilderness through the taming effects of domestication. Aquaculture displays a similarly activist agenda. Yet systematic agriculture, along with the husbandry of domesticated animals and plants, became the central scheme around which diverse human civilizations coalesced. As such, managing agriculture became a central preoccupation of states. In contrast, husbandry of aquatic habitats, while documented from antiquity to the modern period, remained on the peripheries of state interest and control. States by and large viewed aquatic habitats as bountiful pools of resources that simply could be taken through fishing and gathering, and such methods proved wholly adequate to supplement the consumptive needs of pre-modern Western agricultural societies.
AQUATIC SCIENCE AND THE STATE
NOT SURPRISINGLY THEN, one finds the epicenter of what became a global aquacultural revolution not on the fertile plains of the Neolithic Near East, but in a far more recent setting. More precisely, it was in nineteenth-century Paris where elite savants initiated an intellectual inquiry that ultimately redefined human relationships to aquatic habitats; from places of mere exploitation they became rationally organized dominions. It was the ideologies of nationalism and imperialism that ultimately gave states cause to view the waters as something more than natural larders for fish, but as fertile basins for the cultivation of a great bounty of aquatic resources. Western nations found their inspiration and, in most cases, their scientific models, in France, where in less than fifty years, the investment of vast financial and intellectual resources provoked a global appropriation of aquatic habitats, and distribution of aquatic fauna, that has continued to intensify and become more sophisticated to this day.
This French aquacultural revolution encompassed both marine and freshwater habits and included fish, mollusks, and even leeches for medicinal purposes. Hirudiculture (leech culture) was comparatively small, although it was seen as commercially important because of declining wild stocks and the cost of importing leeches from abroad. With the exception of ostreiculture (oyster culture), mariculture techniques developed much more slowly than freshwater ones, largely because of the greater complexity inherent in simulating marine habitats and working with marine species. The science of aquaculture, therefore, found its epistemological footing in experimentation upon freshwater fish. The process, which remained a challenging endeavor nevertheless, became known in French as la pisciculture.
In the Anglophone world, pisciculture eventually gave way to the English translation, fish culture—a subject that a few American environmental historians already have examined. In its American context, these scholars have found the cultivation of fish demonstrative of a new realization of man’s impact on nature, and of the development of conservation practices that predated the officially sanctioned Progressive era. Focusing primarily on fish culture in conjunction with a growing conservation ethic on the east and west coasts of the United States, these groundbreaking studies offer a distinctive example of how French ideas were assimilated from their epicenter into one Western periphery.
Still, these studies have left the movement’s French roots largely unexamined and fundamentally underappreciated. This has been unfortunate, for a better understanding of the eventual scope, scale, and character of the nineteenth- and twentieth-century aquaculture movement can be found in those Gallic origins. The epicenter of the movement lay in a France that was overwhelmingly rural, as it would remain until after the Second World War. In that agrarian context, aquaculture grew out of a specific, unambiguous, and purposeful idea to cultivate the nation’s watersheds and coastline through a regime of rational improvement. That central idea, more than any other, thoroughly permeated the ideology of those nations across the West that first measured their own aquaculture programs by French standards.
That nations would look to France is not surprising. At the dawn of the creation of Napoleon III’s Second Empire, Paris remained an intellectual beacon from which scientific veritas shined out upon the rest of the Western world. There French scientists and naturalists, many of them aristocrats and all of them products of an educational elite, looked down from their lofty scientific summit upon their Western neighbors and generally found them all slightly less civilized, less sophisticated, and less advanced than themselves. Such pretentiousness rarely endeared them to other scientists and intellectuals, who often responded with defensive and stereotypical attacks upon the cliquish and pompous nature of Parisian science.
There was, however, no exaggeration in the exceptionally new way in which a group of Parisian naturalists began to envision water as a fertile territory that, like land, required exploration, appropriation, delineation, order, and “cultivation,” so as to better serve the French nation and its populace. This vision was most clearly espoused by the 27-year-old naturalist Jules Haime, who wrote in 1848: “Fisheries are not the agriculture of the waters, they are only the harvesting. The waters are a source of production extremely powerful, but by no means infinite, and that the harvest may be always certain and abundant, it should be prepared by regular sowing.” His comments often have been cited as exemplifying a new sensitivity to conservation. Such sensibilities did exist. Within the social, political, and intellectual reality of France, however, they were something far more radical—representing nothing less than a clarion call for the adaptation of the nation’s aquatic habitats to modern paradigms of scientific agriculture.
Haime was merely a young protégé and chronicler for a larger following, and their vision should be seen as the culmination of a long series of complex events. First these words were buttressed by an intensifying intellectual interest in aquatic habitats in France, one that had stemmed from a cluster of scientific activities: a careful cataloguing of knowledge of the French littoral, its rivers and lakes and fisheries, and the traditions and customs of fishing people during the eighteenth century; an integration of earlier compendiums of knowledge of aquatic species and places; and even the theft of natural history collections by military forces during the Napoleonic Wars. By the nineteenth century, French aquatic science had progressed at an astonishing pace and with unmatched specificity and breadth. George Cuvier and Achille Valenciennes’s monumental, twenty-two-volume Histoire Naturelle des Poissons (1828–1848), a product of the encyclopedic tradition developed by Buffon in Histoire Naturelle, probed and recorded the physiologies and habitats of more than 4,500 aquatic species from around the world in such a sophisticated and systematic manner that it made them the world’s pre-eminent ichthyologists and their study a model for the West for more than a half-century.
Along with the creation of new knowledge, the construction of a regime of aquatic agriculture found inspiration in some very old traditions. French naturalists examined, with a measure of curiosity and criticism, the fish husbandry of ancient Egypt and Rome, China, and to a lesser extent, medieval and renaissance Europe. As the scholarship of Richard Hoffmann reveals, medieval pond husbandry was involved in elaborate networks of trade, and even transformed such individual species as Cyprinus carpio, the common carp. Some scholars, particularly fisheries scientists, have pointed to these ancient and medieval practices as the start of an inexorable march toward modern, state-sponsored aquaculture. But ancient and medieval fish husbandry remained a product of ancient and medieval worldviews. Moreover, they worked through mimicking natural ecosystems and, as such, they are better defined as opportunistic, “captive exploitation.” Nevertheless, these early practices confirm that however revolutionary modern aquaculture was as a science in France, it was not without important cultural antecedents.
For all their interest in earlier traditions, French fish culturists believed their techniques superior in method, scale, and scope. They cast them as a rational, scientific process, guided by a management regime at each level of the fish’s life cycle, starting with conception. They could do that thanks to knowledge of the process of “artificial fecundation” that permitted direct control over the mechanism of reproduction. The technique consisted of harvesting the egg mass (ova) and seminal fluid (milt) of sexually mature fish during mating by gently squeezing them from living fish, mixing the reproductive materials together in a container and protecting the resulting fecundated embryos (known as “eyed-ova” because of the small dark spot that formed in the middle of the translucent egg) until they hatched (eclosion) and passed through a stage where they fed off their own yolk sacks (alevins), developing into juvenile (fry) that could be distributed directly into rivers and lakes. The great advantage, it was believed, was the significantly improved regenerative capacity of the fish that otherwise lost the vast majority of their eggs and young to a host of natural predators.
The application of artificial fecundation ultimately proved a key component of the French aquacultural revolution and, in an era infused with nationalism, one of the most contentious. The French Baron de Montgaudry famously cited a fifteenth-century treatise that documented its use by Dom Pinchon, a monk at the Abby of Réome, near modern Montbard, France. He never produced the document, and his claim came to be viewed by many outside of France as spurious. Although this treatise has never been found, it was repeatedly cited in monographs, pamphlets, and studies on aquaculture. Yet the majority of French fish culturists, and most of those sympathetic to their cause, quickly found the claim little more than a curious footnote. Credit was given where credit was due, they believed, and they gave it to an eighteenth-century German agriculturalist from the Duchy of Lippe—Stephen Ludwig Jacobi.
Jacobi’s is certainly the first account of the process to have been published. Yet even his account reveals that something about the story has been eternally lost to the ages. Jacobi’s 1763 letter to the Magazine of Hanover described his having learned the techniques from “a local fisherman”—a man without a title, probably without land, and consequently unknown. This nameless fisherman’s techniques were duplicated by Jacobi on his own estate for more than twenty years with so much success that when his descriptions came to the attention of his fellow German nobleman, King George III of England, he was promptly decorated with a medal and given a life pension. The fisherman undoubtedly went on with his ignoble existence, unaware of any of the aristocratic braggadocio.
People were not the only forgotten elements in these developments. Great significance surrounded new human relations with fish species. Jacobi conducted his experiments on trout, not one of the various forms of carp. This was significant in and of itself. Carp had been one of the most esteemed fish in Europe for centuries. The fish was appreciated for its prolific nature and its ability to grow “fat and sweet,” even on a diet of human garbage. Sixteenth-century pond culture texts indicate that laborers in England were happy to be paid for a whole day’s work digging ponds with one large, live carp. Recipe books across centuries show how to stew, stuff, grill, boil, fry, fricassee, and bake it to grace the tables of everyone from peasants to popes. Considered the “queen” of the fishes, it proudly sat next to “king” salmon in an aquatic dynasty that reigned until the end of the eighteenth century in western Europe.
“Queen” carp owed its eventual downfall across much of Europe (although it remained greatly appreciated in parts of Germany, Poland, and Eastern and Southern Europe far longer) principally to anglers, who by the mid-seventeenth century had begun a devoted cult following of the celebrated English merchant, angler, and writer, Izaak Walton. Walton’s The Compleat Angler, written in 1653, remains one of the oldest, continuously reprinted texts in the history of literature. The text redefined angling as an art, and as an expression of the classical virtues of patience, appreciation of nature, and contemplation. It also played a significant role in redefining the value that people gave to fish species. On the second page of the text’s first edition, Walton extolled the virtues of the delicate trout, a fish with a “daintiness of taste” that lived in clear, clean running water—a fish rarely, if ever, mentioned in earlier works. Exiled to chapter nine was “queen” carp, the docile inhabitant of turbid waters, followed in subsequent chapters by her court: the tench, the bream, the perch, and the eel. Carp were common. Trout were rare and seen as more “exotic,” and the wealthy typically monopolized the places where they could be found. Thus Walton had been able to make deep-seated medieval values surrounding fish appear archaic and to imbue trout with a kind of “aristocratic” prestige.
The two species also have very different physiologies, which became an important factor in the development of artificial fecundation. Carp, a cyprinid, is a placid, warm-water, herbivorous fish that reproduces by broadcasting spawn on random aquatic plants, submerged logs, and rocks. It can reproduce, quite prolifically, even in confined conditions imposed upon it by humans. Trout, a salmonid, is a voraciously omnivorous (even cannibalistic), territorial, cold-water fish, requiring precise environmental conditions for spawning. These conditions include specific water temperature, water speed, and oxygen levels, as well as a gravelly surface for the deposits of spawn in nests called redds. Human intervention in the reproductive process of salmonids had been impossible until Jacobi’s revelation of artificial fecundation became common knowledge and was improved through nineteenth-century experimentation. Whether Jacobi ever read Walton is uncertain, but those who did expressed great interest in what Jacobi had done, for he had provided a technical solution to the barrier that evolutionary traits had imposed upon changing human fashions. Thus, in many places where the aquacultural revolution was exported, anglers became agents as influential as states.
The attention given to Jacobi from King George III, who already showed signs of his debilitating madness, might not have been the best publicity. Jacobi noted that the Royal Prussian Society of Sciences and the Northern Society of Sciences at Hesse showed little interest, and “at Petersburgh and several other places they have considered this method of artificial breeding of trouts and salmon as a false chimera.” Jacobi’s letters, complete with diagrams of his ponds and hatching boxes, were quickly translated from German, first into Latin and then into French and English. Nevertheless, for nearly a century they resulted in little more than small-scale experimentation by those who possessed more intellectual curiosity than practical interest in the use of artificial fecundation—and most likely, by ordinary people like the fisherman who revealed his secret to Jacobi and employed it with little fanfare.
“LA CULTURE DE L’EAU”
DESPITE THEIR INTELLECTUAL PREDOMINANCE in aquatic sciences and the strong relationships developed between science and the state, the French at first made no effort to adopt Jacobi’s methods on a broader scale. The Baron de Rivière, a French economist, made one notable attempt to encourage people to make practical use of it. In a paper read at the Société royale et centrale d’agriculture in 1840, he referred to pisciculture for the first time as an industry “yet to be created.” His spirited rhetoric again fell on deaf ears. What he saw as a potential new “branch of rural economy” lacked an underlying ideology and a purpose. Nearly a decade later, both were found in two popular causes.
The first originated from France’s recent and recurring political instability, in which food shortages, in many cases, had played a substantial part. Part of the platform of Republican reform included promises not only to ensure an unchecked food supply for the people, but also to democratize the same kinds of “exotic” foods available to the aristocracy. Second was a growing democratization of science that manifested itself in the nation’s Sociétés d’Émulation—local scientific clubs composed of doctors, lawyers, notaries, and military officers. More than mere social venues, these clubs served as outlets for dispersing elite science from the Parisian center into regional peripheries.
The intellectual, political, and social conditions that made France fertile ground for planting new ideas about human relations with aquatic habitats finally merged in 1848. That year saw the throwing up of barricades in Paris and the violent political unrest that led to the collapse of the July Monarchy, the promulgation of a new constitution that began the Second Republic, and the election of Louis Napoleon. But, it also “commenced,” as Haime described it, “a new era … in France for the economy of the waters.” This “new era” proved to be revolutionary not only socially, but ecologically as well. Following roughly the anatomical stages of political revolution identified by Crane Brinton, this aquacultural revolution was animated by broad popular appeal, yet controlled by an elite, and found ultimate legitimacy through inclusion within the state bureaucracy. Finally, the aquacultural revolution, if less violent toward humans, also was diffused to a broader Western audience who acculturated its central tenets, even as they rejected French intellectual primacy.
The aquaculture revolution took place amidst a bitter and continuing disagreement by French naturalists surrounding the modus operandi of nature. They all agreed, however, on its plasticity and that its dominion was the prerogative of humankind. As a result, the revolution easily appropriated both terrestrial and imperial metaphors. Both are readily apparent in a scientific paper written by Louis Armand de Quatrefages de Breau, a zoologist of rapidly rising prestige with an interest in animal reproduction. In a general summation of Jacobi’s treatise, he concluded that artificial fecundation could permit “the seeding of the waters with fish, as one seeds the earth with grain.”
The most important response to his paper came from an unusual source. It was instigated by a curious series of events that had occurred more than five years earlier. In 1843, the prefect of the Vosges opened a letter from one of his citizens, and unbeknownst to him had withdrawn the tinder of controversy that would fuel popular interest in the aquatic revolution. Contained within was a brief and unpretentious missive from one of the many ordinary fishermen eking out a living on the La Bresse river. He described how through “careful observation” and “great care and effort” he had learned to “hatch an enormous quantity of trout eggs … giving vigorous and healthy young.” He claimed to have been profiting from this “discovery” for many years, only confiding his secret methods to his trusted friend and fellow fisherman, Antoine Géhin. A protracted dry period affecting fish catches all along the river prompted him to conclude that his “discovery” might be “worthy … of the interest of the government.” It was signed by one Joseph Remy.
Intrigued, the prefect passed the letter on to his local Société d’Emulation des Vosges. Seemingly unaware of the esoteric experiments in artificial fecundation of previous decades, the Société awarded the two men a bronze medal and a one hundred-franc prize. Five years later, the society’s secretary, a physician who went simply by the name “Doctor” Haxo, sat reading Quatrefages’s paper and was instantly reminded of the two remarkable fishermen. Haxo quickly penned a letter to the Académie des Sciences to inform them of Remy and Géhin’s earlier accomplishment. The academy’s reply was cold and sceptical. For Haxo, a staunch Republican who had lost his father in the wars of revolution, this was a serious affront. The atmosphere in France was newly charged with revolutionary fervor. Common people were up in arms, Red banners were appearing in Paris, and aristocratic privilege had, once again, become a target for popular protest. Haxo saw such impudent behavior as demonstrating the poisonous effects of scientific elitism in Paris and found ready allies within a growing movement of writers of popular scientific texts (known as vulgarisateurs) who sought to simplify elite scientific works to make them accessible to ordinary people, who they believed were in a better position to develop practical applications. He teamed up with one of the more popular of these vulgarisateurs, Abbé François Moigno, who began a vigorous letter-writing campaign on Haxo’s behalf. Moigno wrote editorials and essays in newspapers and sympathetic scientific journals, and the publicity eventually aroused a measure of popular indignation. Republicanism had spurred a search for justice and provided a rare platform for tribunes who would speak up for the common fisherman.
The result was a David vs. Goliath debate that played out in the media between eminent Parisian science at the center and a coterie of popular scientific journalists and writers led by a stubborn physician from the geographic and intellectual margins of French society. The contest drew enthusiastic supporters to both sides. In calmer political times, this struggle over an obscure science of fish reproduction might have been met with indifference. After all, the Sociétés d’Emulation were intended to be passive receptacles accumulating knowledge, not boards of critical review. For the Parisian scientific elite, popular scientific literature was little more than the product of rustic amateurs, ignorant interlopers, and superstitious clergymen. Under the circumstances, the situation required a more measured response. With unusual expediency, an official committee was composed of the eminent Henry Milne-Edwards of the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle de Paris and the ichthyologists Valenciennes and André Duméril to investigate and study Haxo’s claim. Milne-Edwards traveled to the Vosges and met Remy and Géhin to evaluate their work. He concluded that if these “poor peasants … had not enriched natural history by any new achievement,” they deserved at least “recognition for having finally caused a great interest in artificial fecundation by proving its practical applications.”
The Parisian science establishment, ordinarily so exclusive, responded in this situation with gestures of inclusiveness. Quatrefages cited the activities of the two fishermen in a subsequent paper. The academy secured for each of the men awards its membership deemed “modest.” From the average French fisherman’s point of view, however, the state was extremely generous. Remy, by now elderly and infirm, received a small, state-licensed tobacco shop, along with a life pension of fifteen hundred francs per annum. Géhin, to whom fell the state-mandated responsibility of “vulgarizing and popularizing their process,” also received his own tobacco shop, a one-time payment of twelve hundred francs, a five hundred-franc annual pension, and a special travel allowance to cover the expense of promoting artificial fecundation around the country.
This event proved unique, not just in terms of the development of aquaculture, but in a much broader sense. Members of the French scientific establishment had been forced to leave their ivory towers, and, in the process, they successfully used public interest to turn an obscure discovery of the previous century into a popular cause and simultaneously laid the groundwork for further partnerships among science, the state, and the popular classes. In a moment, that arcane process of artificial fecundation came to be viewed, as one popular scientific chronicler commented, as something so simple, “that even the children of fishermen [can] practice it as easily as they would tend a flock of sheep.” If it found an easy analogy with the terrestrial practice of agriculture, it also meshed comfortably with an emerging imperialistic rhetoric. Another journalist wrote of Remy and Géhin’s “discovery” in an imperialist key: “Man reigns on the earth supreme: he bends the sun to his use for the plants he requires; domesticated animals submit to his will and produce at his pleasure; all nature seems to obey his laws. [Until now] the fish alone have escaped his dominion.”
Such imperialist rhetoric became commonplace. Louis Napoleon’s coup d’état of December 2 that led to the declaration of the Second Empire a year later became the backdrop for a program of dominion over the fish. Napoleon’s minister of agriculture instructed Milne-Edwards to lead a project to construct an institution that would employ the artificial fecundation techniques popularized by Remy and Géhin on a national scale. By 1852, an appropriate site was found at Huningue, in Alsace, a small bucolic town on the Rhine frontier between France, Germany, and Switzerland. For centuries an important commercial and strategic crossroads, the town contained one of Vauban’s many celebrated fortresses, a well-developed canal network, and superior access to water and fishery resources. The state purchased eighty acres, upon which it constructed a series of buildings complete with sunken ponds and mechanized water lifts, for a total cost approaching fifty thousand francs. The site benefited from the most up-to-date science of aquatic biology, scientific tools, equipment with standardized interchangeable parts, rational methods of organization, and technicians who would brush the eyed-ova daily to remove harmful sediment.
The Huningue complex was referred to as a “piscifactoire”—literally, a “fish factory.” One author commented that there, “just as in our grand manufactories, we will be able to infinitely multiply [fish] for distribution at the lowest price of consumption.” French engineers estimated that the nation possessed 3,177,500,000 cubic meters of fresh water with a population of 25 million fish, from which revenues of 6 million francs were realized annually. The Huningue piscifactoire, they believed, could through “rational seeding” produce 3,177,500,000 fish (one fish per cubic meter) in only four years, which would result in an increase of annual freshwater fisheries revenues to over 900 million francs. Such bombastic rhetoric was typical of Napoleon III’s propagandistic imperial schemes. Napoleon III’s critics, and there were many, later fixated upon the disparity between the lofty promises—which had been intended primarily to excite interest—and the meager results and claimed the whole movement a failure. What such criticism failed to recognize was that even the apparently modest results that were eventually attained represented an unprecedented and remarkable scientific and technical achievement with lasting ecological consequences. By the decade’s end, more than 100 million ova of various species of trout and salmon were successfully fecundated, much of them surrounded by moistened moss and carefully packed into balsawood shipping containers and distributed throughout France’s departments, as well as England, Austria, Belgium, Spain, Holland, Italy, Prussia, Portugal, Russia, Switzerland, and various German states.
It was clear that its founders saw Huningue as something more than a new medium for the human exploitation of fish. As Napoleon Bonaparte had remarked only a few generations earlier, “In the eyes of empire builders, men are not men, but instruments.” Napoleon III adopted that very ideology to urban and rural landscapes by making facts of nature into instruments of human progress. Well known are the broad, straight, tree-lined avenues, devised and planned with the aid of the Baron Haussmann, to make the city of Paris more open and enchanting, and also less vulnerable to sieges by its potentially rebellious citizenry. Less well known are his numerous projects to reorganize France’s natural landscape to increase its bounty. His elaborate reforestation projects offer one example; the generous expenditure of state resources to encourage aquaculture was another.
Only two years after the construction of the Huningue site, a new scientific community was formed in France, La Société imperiale zoologique d’acclimitation. The Société’s mission was to promote and study the importation, acclimatization, and domestication of exotic animal and plant species that eventually could become acclimated to France and transformed into popular food sources. The Société’s founding members included Isadore Geoffery Saint-Hilaire, Milne-Edwards, Quatrefages, and a large group of prominent naturalists and aristocratic supporters. Saint-Hilaire believed acclimatization to be the first step in a three-stage process that would lead ultimately to the complete submission of species to human domestication. At Boulogne, just outside of Paris, they constructed the centerpiece of their movement, the Jardin d’Acclimitation, which served as a laboratory for collective investigation. The Jardin, with its imperial sanction, represented nothing less than an ecological extension of the mission civilisatrice, and activities at Huningue became closely associated with the Société’s goals.
In addition to its scholarly work, the Société engaged in more popular spectacles. New species of animals and plants usually arrived (and often were eaten) amidst great public fanfare reminiscent of the pageantry of exotic animals in Imperial Rome. In one instance, a Parisian newspaper noted how the Société had distributed “little microscopic fish” (probably goldfish reared at Huningue or in the aquarium house at the Jardin) into the fountains and water basins in the Tuileries. Such acts brought artificial fecundation and fish acclimatization efforts into the popular imagination in ways that their academic journal could never have achieved. The introduction of exotic fish species con-sequently became the corner-stone of the Huningue pisci-factory’s operations and clearly dominated the inquiry of its director, the man put in charge of investigating and advancing French aquaculture science as a whole—Victor Coste.
Coste was a physician with specialized training in em-bryology, a member of the So-ciété, and imperial physician to Empress Eugénie. Eugénie was not just an imperial consort, but an important counselor, thus giving Coste a ready line of com-munication to the emperor with whom he established a strong, amicable, and lifelong rela-tionship. Coste commenced his new responsibilities with a fisheries survey of the French and Italian coastline. Along the way, he visited the small Italian town of Commachio, on the Adriatic between Ravenna and the mouth of the Po River, where he investigated the use of aquaculture practices that were said to date from antiquity. He noted: “The documents that I have gathered in my voyage of exploration will be the proof that human industry, guided by experience of centuries and the new discoveries of science, will organize along all the waterways machinery of exploitation, where the fruits of this inexhaustible domain, held, ripened and multiplied with care, will be harvested with as much profit and less labor than those of the earth.” He gave these ideas deeper meaning in 1853 in his Instructions pratiques sur la pisciculture. The text was intended to instruct ordinary people in the advantages and uses of a modern science of aquaculture and was quickly translated into English. This work was in every way a French aquatic-oriented predecessor to other kinds of modern environmental improvement writings such as those of Julius Sterling Morton who popularized the modern techniques of farming and forestry. If less well known today than Morton, Coste’s work had an equally global impact.
As a scientist, Coste believed that the “conquest of living nature” represented the “intent” of all of the natural sciences. Accordingly, “they had accomplished in the course of centuries, the most important act … by taking it from a wild state to a domesticated one.” As it did with the Société as a whole, this ideology informed his hope of being able “to transport and acclimatize in all the waters of France the most esteemed fish that can be found in every foreign nation.” His numerous experiments bore testimony to those efforts. He wrote, “in the tanks … are myriads of fish derived from artificially fecundated eggs gathered on the shores of lakes in Switzerland, the Rhine, and the Danube; … they now live like perfectly submissive barnyard animals.”
Activities at Huningue, as at the Jardin, were not limited to exotic introductions. They included experiments to create hybrids containing the best qualities of “esteemed” species, including fish. Coste noted: The “Chinese produce [hybrids] with golden carp, of which they procure infinite varieties; but, their trade consists in confining altogether the varieties of the same species, and allowing them to produce naturally. Artificial fecundation gives the means of obtaining, by crossing breeds, mongrels having the best qualities of the parents.” Such experiments already had been conducted successfully with species of trout and salmon, but Coste wanted to cross other species as well. “It now remains to be determined if … in like manner … other kinds belonging to a different family, the pike, for example … can procreate [with trout and salmon].”
As a distinctive example of the progressive character of the new French Empire, Huningue became another notch in the yardstick used to measure French imperial prestige. The international success of Huningue as a model laboratory and commercial enterprise inevitably evoked expressions of national pride. Haime proclaimed: “We believe that it is just to say that if the application of artificial fecundation to the repopulation of the rivers is owing to a German naturalist, it is in our country that fish culture has grown, has been perfected, and has finally come to constitute an actual branch of industry.” In this case, Haime’s statement was not mere hyperbole. The French had been able to do something with aquaculture that no other nation had ever attempted. In the process, a successful partnership between science and the state had been developed and linked to broader popular ideologies. Haime’s proclamation was perhaps an understatement, for in fish culture’s ready application to industrial and imperialist mentalities, it found purposes and consequences that went well beyond improving one nation’s aquatic habitats.
In 1862, Quatrefages wrote an updated article on the subject in the Bulletin de la Société, entitled “Fertilité et Culture de l’Eau,” in which he laid out an even more sophisticated vision: “Without water,” he said, “even the richest soil remains completely sterile, yet the water is sufficient, in and of itself, to produce all sorts of living beings.” The raison d’être of this “Culture de l’Eau,” one that had been tested and verified in the ponds and laboratories of Huningue and the Jardin and at other sites along the French coast, was no longer the mere application of terrestrial paradigms to aquatic habitats. It consisted of the conscious cultivation of aquatic life from its very conception, and the creation of new “sorts of living beings.” Aquatic resources would no longer simply be harvested; they would be manufactured and reinvented so that by kind and abundance they would be superior to the raw material provided by nature. Grafted to a larger imperial ethos, aquaculture as an idea spread rapidly from the French epicenter to far-flung global peripheries—from St. Petersburg to Bombay, to Capetown and Washington, D.C., and points in between.
DIFFUSION OF THE REVOLUTION TO THE PERIPHERY
FRENCH AQUACULTURE, by appropriating terrestrial metaphors, finally had seized upon rhetoric that could penetrate the solid barriers thrown up by an omnipresent, terrestrial bias. It did so in a way that left an indelible mark on French culture as a whole. Its influence is readily visible in Jules Verne’s Vingt mille lieues sous les mers, a work of science fiction that benefited greatly from the scientific literacy created two generations earlier by the popularization of aquatic sciences in France. Delegations of prominent scientists from all over Europe spilled through that metaphorical breach to investigate what was going on at Huningue. Newspapers throughout Europe hailed the arrival of eyed-ova and fry from the French model piscifactory. State-sponsored carbon copies of Huningue sprang up all across the continent. One noteworthy exception was across the channel. In England, where most river fisheries were privately owned, the state was all too happy to watch France and other European nations invest in the fabrication of little fishes and leave similar efforts, to the consternation of some outspoken English citizens, to private angling and acclimatization clubs, who would have to use their own wealth if they chose to invest in the French model.
The movement also coincided with the popularization of the world’s fairs and expositions of the late-nineteenth century. Fairs and expos became visible venues for imperial posturing and served to showcase French fish culture, and later the experiments of other nations, to a wider audience. Fish culture debuted at the Paris Exhibition Universelle of 1855, where Coste attracted curious crowds to his unusual exhibit of fish, aquaria, and aquaculture instruments. It was most likely that public interest that won his work a modest honorable mention from the perplexed international jury. Until specialized fisheries exhibitions began to absorb them in the 1880s, subsequent fairs almost always included exhibits of aquaria and fish culture experiments. These displays helped fuel more extensive state participation in aquaculture activities and led to a popular interest in fish keeping and breeding as a hobby for the wealthy.
While scientific envoys and world’s fairs remained important elements of diffusion to other countries, in the United States, the most significant contact initially came from French publications, especially those of Victor Coste. These were read at meetings of the nation’s natural history societies, agricultural fairs, and social clubs. That these clubs often exhibited the same kind of elitism found in France, albeit on a different scale, was noted by William Henry Fry, who remarked of the Farmer’s Club of the American Institute that: “A practical farmer occasionally gets among the judges, doctors, professors, etc., and relieves their forlorn incoherences with a few sensible suggestions and useful information; otherwise the discussions of the fancy city-agriculturalists who assemble in the Institute rooms are very incongruous affairs—gratifying, no doubt, the obfuscated vanity of a few bewildered fogies who can there make speeches on subjects of which they know nothing, or read dull translations from the French, or Dutch, on other subjects, respecting which nobody cares anything.”
Fry followed his remarks by happily indicating the emergence of a new climate, one that revealed itself in a new-found attention to fish culture. Fry was certainly one of the most peculiar characters to have weighed in on such a subject. Better known by many music historians as the “father” of American opera, he also happened to be a scion of an Eastern newspaper mogul, and through his father’s connections earned a posting to France as a cultural journalist for Horace Greeley’s influential New York Tribune. Arriving in 1846, Fry remained in France for seven years. In all the time he spent there, the subject that inspired him to write a book upon his return was neither French opera, nor any other aspect of Parisian high society; it was none other than the novel science of pisciculture.
Ironically an outspoken advocate of the need for American composers to “reject foreign liveries,” Fry championed this new French science in ways that no other American had. At the prodding of “scientific friends,” he undertook the careful translation into English of all the major writings on the subject available in French, especially the experiments of Victor Coste, and organized them into a compendium entitled, A Complete Treatise of Artificial Fish Breeding, published in 1854. In his preface, Fry called fish culture “a discovery of the highest importance, of a mode of actually creating fish in illimitable numbers … a subject equally important to the farmer, the economist, and the statesman.” The words revealed that Fry’s translations successfully interpreted not only the science’s more technical aspects, but also the movement’s entire philosophy. In the same manner as the French government, he saw pisciculture in terms of its promise to improve the waters, heretofore ignored. And, to do so could only be a beneficial contribution to American nation building.
Fry’s translations represented the first and most complete collection of nineteenth-century, French state-supported scientific experimentation and evaluation of fish culture published for an American audience, appearing three years before George Perkins Marsh’s far-more-often cited “Report Made under the Authority of the Legislature of Vermont on Artificial Propagation of Fish.” Curiously, Marsh, a proponent of the great potential of fish culture and an advocate of its use, concluded in his report that “[t]here is little which is new in the methods now followed in France.” Marsh clearly had a different audience, one that may not have found much favor in the French model of centralized control over state fisheries resources. Nevertheless, even ten years later, in his Man and Nature—after French experimentation had led to the creation of internationally recognized model pisciculture enterprise that resulted in the diffusion of fish culture operations, as well as the shipping of millions of eyed-ova and fry all over Europe and even into North America—Marsh continued to write that “fish breeding” while having “been revived,” had produced “no important results.”
That even erudite and thoughtful sages like Marsh could not bring themselves to acknowledge the huge significance of what had happened in France in terms of aquaculture science since 1848 says much about the rejection of French scientific hegemony in the Western peripheries. Marsh’s comments certainly were contemporaneous with a broad, cultural shift in sensibilities concerning France in the United States. What had been a general climate of Francophilia at the turn of the century became constricted to appreciation for the fine arts. By mid-century, manifestations of Francophobia had appeared amidst an atmosphere of anti-Catholic nativism and anti-intellectualism. In the latter decades of the nineteenth century, back-to-nature movements celebrated rustic American provincialism, not refined and cultured French metropolitanism. Contributing to peripheral attitudes, even those of the United States, was the inaccessibility of French universities to foreign students. Partly from elitism, but more significantly out of a fear of Prussian espionage, French universities in the second half of the nineteenth century largely barred access to foreigners. As a result, most Americans going abroad for study matriculated at universities in the German states or in England, where they learned French science influenced by German, or English, nationalist sentiments.
New demographics in the United States played a role as well. Emigration from the Germanic states to the United States during the period was substantial. These German immigrants brought with them their own national proclivities and prejudices. Added to this was a new nationalism of American science that did little to disguise a penchant for adopting Europe’s scientific notables, like Louis Agassiz, and claiming the intellectual baggage that they carried with them as their own national treasure.
What lay behind this shift in attitudes toward France may be complex, but the consequences were clear. While there were always a few sympathetic voices, in the United States, the French origins of fish culture science were more and more deftly dismissed, occasionally ridiculed, and sometimes treated with hostility, especially by official sources. All of this contributed to a national narrative of American fish culture that entered into the “mystic chords of memory” with much duplicity. American pioneers of fish culture tried to highlight all that was uniquely American about their efforts, even as they continued to be solidly entrenched in French methods and ideologies. Those seeing the development of aquaculture as primarily an intellectual exercise awarded the title of “father of American fish culture” to Dr. Theodatus Garlick, author of the 1857 Treatise on the Artificial Propagation of Fish, a work based on fish culture experiments with his colleague H. A. Ackley. Garlick, a physician practicing in Cleveland, admitted to having read Fry’s translations with “great satisfaction,” but found the work of one of France’s best-known embryologists and the world’s most experienced aquaculturist “deficient in some important points.”
Garlick’s major complaint was that, with the exception of “Salmo salar, the habits of not a single American fish are given,” prompting him to conduct his own experiments and publish his own treatise—more than half of which consisted of translated French studies. It seems he returned to the more lucrative enterprise of being a local physician (it was another twenty years before he published another four-page scientific paper on the hybridization of fish), but his treatise, republished only one year later in 1858 and again in 1880, came to be one of the most popular sources on fish culture science in the United States. Garlick’s most important contribution was in proving that French-inspired aquaculture was viable in a North American context.
Those who saw fish culture as a promising commercial enterprise hung the laurels on New York native Seth Green, who, during the 1860s, conducted experiments and patented improvements on some French technologies. His work on the culture of trout led to a nearly decade-long interest in the use of fish culture to raise fresh trout for local restaurants and wholesale fish markets. One later historical work in the 1940s even cited Green as the actual inventor of the science of fish culture. Although he chose not to highlight it, Green still relied upon French literature, methodology, and technical achievement as the foundation of his own work. During the same period, the popular fish culturist and angler Thaddeus Norris chose Stephen Ainsworth as the most fitting “father.” Norris too, noted that Ainsworth had built his knowledge of fish culture from “whatever light he could get on the subject from newspapers and periodicals, generally accounts of what was going on in France.”
What could not be rejected or conveniently ignored was that the science that these American fish-culture “fathers” were working so hard to implement and make their own had developed within the womb of French ideology; they had been given birth by a social conflict between elite, metropolitan intellectuals and rural, peripheral champions of applied science and found financial succor in the benevolent arms of empire. Not surprisingly, while fish culture became an area of interest in various American states, it largely lacked the broad, fertile political environment and the recognizable societal impetus at the national level that it had found in France. It was not until after the American Civil War, long after Fry had died and his translations had largely been deemed inconsequential, that American fish culture found similar footing.
During Reconstruction, northeasterners especially began noticing the environmentally detrimental effects of a century of industrialization and unchecked exploitation and blamed them for reducing populations of both commercial and game fishes such as salmon, trout, and shad. Elite anglers and ordinary commercial fisherman were united in their anger and used it for common cause. By 1870 they had formed the American Fish Culturists’ Association (AFCA), which sought to promote the use of fish culture at a national level. While these men certainly decried the decline of America’s fisheries, what they came to identify as their “great undertaking” implied something more than the restoration of formerly bountiful fisheries. They called for the “introduction and multiplying of shad, salmon, or other valuable fish—not just in the Northeast—but, throughout the country.” Programs of exotic species introductions and even hybridization followed. Like its French proponents nearly twenty years earlier, the members of the AFCA became convinced that their mission’s success depended on the central government’s direct participation.
The AFCA began a federal lobbying campaign that ultimately succeeded. The following year, in 1871, President Ulysses Grant signed into law a bill creating a United States Fisheries Commission (USFC), to be led by the man who had so strongly urged creation of the commission, the popular naturalist and assistant secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, Spencer Fullerton Baird. Baird almost immediately integrated fish culture, an enterprise that seems to have been dubiously within his legislative mandate, into the USFC’s overall mission. If somewhat obtusely, the American fish culture movement had finally found its own center. Just as quickly, it became framed within America’s own imperialistic and industrial rhetoric: a renewed “Manifest Destiny,” finally purged of the political and ethical dilemma of slavery and ready for unbridled westward expansion.
Subsequently, the commission’s policy formed around the promotion and fostering of fish culture in the individual states by casting them as efforts to improve the waters through the introduction of valuable fishes, most of them foreign to regional ecosystems. In its first year, the commission succeeded in introducing shad into the Great Lakes, and by 1872, it had introduced whitefish into California. In 1873, the same year the Ohio Fish Commission was established, its commissioner, John Klippart, read a paper before the Ohio State Agricultural Convention in which he announced, “so very successful has fish culture been in Europe … that Congress at the last session appropriated $15,000 to enable the commissioners of the several states to procure eggs from other and widely different localities.” Seeing opportunities, other states followed suit.
Fish culture was soon being hailed by the likes of Horace Greeley as one of the nation’s “Great Industries.” Like the claims made by Napoleon III, Greeley also was exaggerating. Nevertheless, proponents did take advantage of the greatest industrial invention of the age, the railroad, to aid their efforts to import, redistribute, and acclimatize fish species. In 1873, Livingston Stone, a charter member of the AFCA and later an employee for the USFC, rigged up a refrigerated fruit car with water tanks to transport “valuable” species from the East to the West and vice versa. In June of that year, he embarked with his motley collection of piscine passengers, including bass, pike, perch, catfish, tautogs, shad, eel, lobster, trout, and a barrel of oysters from Massachusetts Bay. Five days later, in what may be the most bizarre railroad accident in American history, the heavily laden car disastrously derailed, spilling its contents, including Livingston Stone, into the Elkhorn River in Nebraska. Uninjured and undeterred, Stone dried himself off and vowed to try again. A second attempt the following year went off without a hitch. His success prompted both federal and state fish commissions to design and build their own “fish” cars. These cars rode the rails for decades, quickly transporting fry and eyed-ova of multitudes of species via the nation’s rapidly expanding rail network. Similarly, steamships enabled the sure and rapid transport of fish species across the oceans.
Steam power and rail transport added a new element to American efforts and permitted the United States to surpass anything the French could have ever imagined. By then, most of those French founders were either dead or had become little more than observers, overcome by great events outside their control. The creation of the USFC had come shortly after the French Empire’s collapse in the Franco-Prussian war. With the French loss of Alsace and Lorraine went their piscifactory at Huningue. The city once again had a Germanic name, “Huningen,” and its celebrated model institution was now a trophy of war. For France, the outcome of the conflict was shocking and catastrophic. It was no less humiliating and humbling for French science in general and its acclimatization and aquaculture efforts in particular. The famine in the capital provoked by the siege eventually led to the closing of the Jardin, where the animals no longer were to be found within their enclosures, but in butcher shops and on the menu at the Saint Sylvestre. Even the “little fish” in the fountains of the Tuileries were gone, these humble offspring of the aquacultural revolution hungrily devoured by bivouacked French soldiers.
The war knocked France off its lofty summit as the pioneer of state-sponsored aquaculture. Victor Coste, having lost his imperial sponsor and his laboratory at Huningue, retired to his country estate, where he died in obscurity two years later. The French freshwater fish culture program, having put all its ova in one basket, never fully recovered. The empire’s efforts were not a complete failure, however. Coste had worked equally hard on developing oyster culture, and the French eventually resurrected it and developed a program that would once again become the envy of the world and make the oyster emblematic of the nation as a whole and a final reminder, until the international success of Jacques Cousteau and his Calypso, of its former predominance in aquatic sciences.
For the time being, the French could only suffer their indignation from the sidelines as the once ambivalent, and sometimes-derisive peripheries replaced them as boastful new centers. That shift revealed a great irony. Curiously, many in the Germanic states once had looked upon French fish culture efforts of the 1850s and 1860s with scorn. The Germans mocked the “excitable character of the French,” whose government wasted “hundreds of thousands, probably millions, of francs” in their aquaculture program. Special animosity was reserved for Victor Coste, who was considered an incessant noisemaker, having dubiously promised every Frenchman “a daily giant trout, in the same manner as Henry IV had promised every English farmer a chicken a week.” But the mockery fell silent as the new German Empire developed its own national fish culture program as a part of the Deutsche Fisherei Verein (German Fishery Union).
Across the Atlantic, Spencer Baird was too busy developing new ties with the German Fishery Union to notice the irony. In 1872, the USFC received from Germany an importation of salmon from the Rhine and in 1877 another gift of one thousand eyed-ova of a species of German whitefish. The United States reciprocated, sending 250,000 ova of Pacific salmon to Germany. By 1880, relations had become so cordial that when Imperial Germany sponsored an International Fisheries Exhibit in Berlin, the U.S. Congress appropriated twenty thousand dollars to participate. The German government agreed to underwrite the cost of transport between New York and Bremen. Despite the larger theme expressed in its title, the exhibit primarily focused on fish culture. The event was the climax of another repositioning of centers in the international movement. In Berlin, the United States was awarded six gold medals in fish culture to Germany’s three and Russia’s one.
Baird became the consummate promoter of fish culture in America. Even the French Société d’Acclimitation awarded him a gold medal in 1879 for his efforts. Through those efforts and largely as a result of his force of character, the practice spread across the whole of the United States. The Germans were particularly laudatory. For his achievements, he received a “magnificent silver trophy” directly from the German emperor. And, as we are told by his trusted assistant, George Brown Goode, “[Baird’s] portrait was placed over the entrance to the American court, and Herr von Behr, president of the Deutsche Fisherei Verein, never passed beneath it without taking off his hat in honor of the man whom he delighted to call the ‘first fish culturist of the world’.” The reality was that despite his “paternal” influence, there is no evidence that this incredibly busy man ever personally hatched a fish in his life.
Nevertheless, Baird had succeeded in making the United States the movement’s world leader. Accordingly, Goode set out to rewrite a history that more appropriately reflected his nation’s recently achieved primacy and its cordial relations with the German Empire. In his “Epochs of Fish Culture,” which had become the de facto government version, Goode, seemingly cognizant of the lingering bitter animosity between France and Germany, took on a decidedly partisan tone. He called his history a “tentative” one, no doubt because he was writing it even as new chapters in ichthyology and fisheries science, especially the prolific and growing work of David Starr Jordan and to a lesser extent his own work, were also contributing to the rise of the United States in aquatic sciences. On the surface, it was a reasonable attempt to situate American efforts into the new central context. Notwithstanding, his claim to having “no intention of treading on the toes of any one” in the process seemed much more disingenuous.
Goode’s “Epochs” begins with one of the most detailed accounts of the life and work of Stephen Ludwig Jacobi that can be found in association with any history of fish culture in English. What follows is a treatment of France that goes well beyond toe crushing to a general treading underfoot of truth. To Goode, any French claims to originality in the field of artificial fecundation were completely illegitimate. The close proximity of the Vosges to Germany, he deduced, made it highly likely that “the methods described in Jacobi’s treatise were probably not all that unfamiliar” to the two fishermen, Remy and Géhin. Sardonically he concluded, “I hope it is not uncharitable to suggest that the chief significance of [their] work lies in the opportunity it afforded France to put its energies into the field without acknowledging its indebtedness to Germany.”
A measure of bias is understandable. His mentor, Spencer Baird, had built close ties with Germany. There was still a great deal of dishonesty in Goode’s petulant, nationalistic yarn. It failed to acknowledge that the official French position consistently credited the pioneering role of Jacobi. French scientists continued to do so even to the extent of angering a significant audience of supporters of a more popular applied science who believed Remy and Géhin should be considered the inventors of an entire movement.
Begrudgingly, Goode acknowledged that “[t]o the establishment of Huningue the world is indebted for some important practical hints, but most of all for the influence upon the policies of governments.” Goode failed to appreciate, or chose to ignore, that this “influence upon the policies of governments” had been so exceptional and so entirely novel that its importance should have risen above any partisan bickering. It did not. To the candid observer, Goode’s bias is trans-parent. Once and for all, any recognition of French hegemony, even if now only a part of the past, was to be rejected. “To Germany,” he proclaimed, “beyond question, belongs the honor of the art of fish culture.” It is little wonder that later gen-erations of historians and fisheries scientists came to view French involvement in the development of a modern aquaculture movement, if they recognized it at all, as an almost inconsequential part of an otherwise American story.
Nationalistic interpretations might obscure but cannot completely conceal that primordial French influence, in large part because of the broad footprint that the French-inspired regime of aquaculture, one based upon cultivating and improving the waters, had left in the ecology of the world’s aquatic habitats. The center may have shifted, as it would many more times, but the core ideology passed nearly unchanged from one national group to the next. Fish culture science, and later a more inclusive aquaculture science, served the nation as a precision instrument—an aquatic plow—to furrow the waters based upon the state’s imperial designs. An American partnership with Germany did not change that fundamental goal, but it did mean that American fish culture would take on a slightly different ecological character.
If the movement’s ideological currents were traceable to a central epicenter, the ecological peripheries of the aquacultural revolution are more difficult to define. Introductions often failed to establish self-replicating populations. It was simply naively assumed, in most cases, that they did. Such efforts certainly did not succeed in saving salmon runs on the coasts of the United States, England, France, or Germany, or resurrect whitefish populations in the Great Lakes. Still, most nineteenth-century records of introductions remain entirely unexamined, and even unknown to modern fisheries scientists. There were many times more undocumented introductions than documented ones, especially those done by railroad companies and local angling clubs, most of these done in areas that had never been icthyologically surveyed. In spite of this, there were enough successes to say that this aquacultural revolution did result in global ecological change. Two of the more extreme cases demonstrate just how transformative many of these activities eventually were—the common carp and rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss).
The partnership between the United States and Germany had given the various strains of the common carp, collectively known as “German” carp, a remarkable new mobility. Herr von Behr, the president of the German Fishery Union and adoring friend of Spencer Baird and others in the USFC, led the effort to acclimatize them in the United States. The carp’s physiology ensured that little effort from its human partners was required. The Druid Hill Park ponds in Baltimore, Maryland, served as temporary reservoirs for carp coming from Germany before they were shipped out to fulfill their mission to “improve” the waters of the United States. The prolific carp quickly outgrew their accommodations, and many of them were transferred to roil in the government ponds on the lot of the still incomplete Washington Monument.
While distributed all over the nation, these “German” carp were especially promoted in newly settled areas of the country, such as Nebraska. Their introduction in that state represents the close association of fish culture with environmental imperialism in the United States. The “Great American Desert,” from which Nebraska was carved, had once been considered a “vast, barren, sterile, and treeless plain,” where American ingenuity and indomitable spirit imposed a progressive, civilized order. The process included the elimination of Amerindian peoples, the eradication of bison, and the destruction of a thick sea of prairie grass. Nothing indigenous, except the soil beneath, was of value. Exotic grains were imported from Europe and Asia, and rare breeds of cattle were imported from England—as were artificially propagated fish.
Fry had noted that with “fish culture … barren or impoverished streams may be stocked to an almost unlimited extent.” This statement suggested American waters were not only somehow devoid of aquatic fauna, but also lacking in culturally valuable species. Baird, who promoted the widespread introductions of fish, especially carp, into states like Nebraska, had participated in a process of cataloguing species—including fish—as a part of the transcontinental railroad survey. He would have been fully aware that there was not a “barren” or “impoverished” stream anywhere in the Nebraska Territory. The lightly populated region only gained the necessary human population for statehood in 1867, but it already had been populated for hundreds of thousands of years by a diversity of aquatic life. Two indigenous kinds became known as the pallid sturgeon and the Topeka shiner—neither made the list of “valuable” game and commercial fishes, but both eventually made a subsequent list of federally endangered species. Like the rest of the indigenous flora and fauna, these “useless” species were simply to be replaced by more desirable, introduced exotics. In Nebraska, and throughout the plains, the ideology of improvement could not be associated with any elitist rhetoric of conservation.
The Nebraska Fish Commission, along with other state commissions across the country, spent much time and energy introducing and developing a commercial value for carp. Often naively promoted as aquatic pigs, the metaphor was misleading. Efforts to sell carp to farmers as a common fish for the common man failed miserably. Even the few who were persuaded to try carp farming found the closest wholesale markets for their produce in cities far to the east: New York, Boston, and Philadelphia, where the primary consumers consisted of eastern European immigrant populations. The market was quickly saturated, making rail transport from the plains a losing venture for even the most enterprising Nebraska carp farmers. By the time state and federal authorities came to this realization, her majesty, the carp, already had set up a vast new dominion, pushing out and marginalizing indigenous species, not only in Nebraska’s aquatic ecosystems—but all across North America.
Carp may have had great value in Germany and some lesser residual value in England and France, but in the United States, where the cult of Walton had so permeated the culture, few people recognized any of its qualities. By the turn of the century, farmers, fisherman, and scientists alike spoke of it only disparagingly, as a menace—a “course” species, a “trash” fish, and one of the worst ideas that the government ever had. All laws that had been passed to protect them, most through the instigation of the USFC, were either revoked or simply ignored. Rather than farmed, they were netted, speared, shot, pitch-forked, and even attacked with explosives. Later in the twentieth century, the poison rotenone became a popular solution. All attempts to eradicate them ultimately proved so costly and time-consuming that many considered them a waste of effort. On par with the destruction of the buffalo, the introduction of carp remains one of the most significant, federally provoked environmental catastrophes in the United States.
Notwithstanding joint effort by Germany and the United States to promote carp, French fish culture had been based upon the employment of artificial fecundation primarily for species of trout and salmon, and these remained the focus of efforts outside France as well. In North America, fish culture eventually found what its proponents considered its greatest successes as a tool to introduce popular game fish, such as bass, trout, and perch. The relationship made economic sense. Game fish brought anglers, and anglers bought licenses, rode the rails, paid for guides, stayed in hotels, and variously raised state and provincial revenues. Since the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, most people with the leisure time to go angling have been wealthy and influential, and they have played a significant role in influencing states to develop freshwater sport fisheries as part of boosterism schemes to attract settlement and capital. After the salmon, this group came to appreciate no other target species more than the rainbow trout. Aquaculture permitted this animal to be diffused around the globe with a rapidity perhaps unknown to any other species. Rainbows originally were indigenous only to the drainage basins west of the Rocky Mountains. By the first two decades of the twentieth century, however, they had been dispersed, in many cases, through government programs and established throughout the entire United States, including Hawaii, and to every province in Canada, as well as forty-five foreign countries—in sum, to every continent except Antarctica.
In the peripheries outside of the United States, the exotic rainbows and many other species followed paths worn down by a French philosophy of aquaculture that long outlasted the scientists and imperial authority that had developed and promoted them. In Canada, where fish culture efforts became closely affiliated with the United States, Napoleon Comeau, a popular Quebec adventurer and sportsman who frequented the province’s rugged North Shore, remarked in the 1920s that he looked at a salmon river “just as I do a piece of land. The latter has a capacity for raising a certain number of bushels of grain, etc. If you do not get that amount of crop it must be that it is either badly cultivated or overgrown with weeds.”
Although they never received substantial government support, the British colonials were in the vanguard of efforts to acclimatize species to every corner of their far-flung empire. As Victor Coste had predicted, hatcheries could be cheaply and easily constructed along virtually any waterway. And they were, serving as biological way stations for the emigration of “valuable” species from North American and European metropolitan centers into colonial peripheries. Arthur H. Reid, an avid British angler, constructed hatcheries to bring rainbow trout to South Africa at the turn of the century, and others like him did the same in Nigeria and other British colonies in Africa. British ichthyologist and fish culturist Francis Day brought the promise of fish culture to India and Burma, and wrote numerous studies on the hybridization of fishes. By the 1860s, the Australian Acclimatization Society succeeded in acclimatizing European trout in the Southern Hemisphere, where no true salmonids had ever evolved. Their efforts to introduce the prized Atlantic salmon spanned half a century.
In all these places, acclimatized and self-replicating populations of fish deemed to be culturally valuable served as stellar examples of a commonly held Western ideology of improving the world’s watersheds through their integration into a paradigm of cultivation. If the unique confluence of events in France had, like the force of a battering ram, knocked down a wall of indifference to aquatic habitats, it had also inadvertently sent an ecological “humpty-dumpty” plunging from its perch. The aquaculture revolution may have had no human victims, but it did have countless ecological ones. Curiously, scientists’ realization of the potential consequences of importing exotic fishes lagged decades behind a similar understanding of the transformative power of terrestrial plant and animal introductions. Late nineteenth-century fears of introduced weeds, plant diseases, and insects had no ichthyological parallels until the 1930s and 1940s. No one at the time may have noticed, but these early aquaculture efforts had provoked massive change within still largely unstudied and unknown aquatic ecosystems. And, there was no way to put this metaphorical “humpty-dumpty” back together again, for no one had any idea of what he originally looked like.
LEGACY OF THE CULTURE DE L’EAU
MANY COMMENTATORS, ACROSS CENTURIES, have remarked upon the human species’ ingrained, terrestrial bias. One author of a set of by-laws drawn up for a select group of Cincinnati angling aficionados in the 1830s decried what he and the membership-at-large saw as an overwhelming “neglect of the wealth of our rivers” that caused members of the “finny tribes” to bear the cast-off names of land animals,” such as “buffaloes,” “red-horses,” and “cats.” Such sentiments for aquatic species and places are found with great consistency across centuries among people familiar with aquatic habitats. Fishermen and fishmongers, anglers and naturalists, to name only a few, all bemoaned what they saw as a deplorable, terrestrial bias that left most of the planet unknown and in a wild, unimproved condition. The French aquacultural revolution of the mid-nineteenth century is all the more remarkable as it inaugurated a movement that encompassed a broad stratum of society, including scientists, bureaucrats, sportsmen, and entrepreneurs, who actually began developing specific ideas and policies that succeeded in transforming humanity’s relationship to aquatic habitats.
For diverse social, political, and environmental reasons, Paris became the epicenter of an aquacultural revolution that successfully ended centuries of ambivalence toward the state-supported cultivation of aquatic habitats. Even if the French epicenter became obscured and ultimately forgotten in the peripheries that it had initially penetrated, the imperial ethos and terrestrial metaphor that permeated the new science remained largely intact. As a broad Western movement, aquaculture promoted the imperial conquest of water, and its diffusion of aquatic species had profound global consequences. Ecologist Charles S. Elton remarked that “[s]o slow are fresh-water fish to become redistributed … that they can almost be called ‘living fossils’, in so far as their present distribution is often one or more geological periods behind that of more mobile mammals.” Modern fish culture science bolstered by state resources and common ideologies had given the fishes mobility unsurpassed by the glacially slow processes of nature.
The French aquacultural movement of the nineteenth century is the direct intellectual precursor of a second aquacultural revolution, in the midst of which we are all living. Now expanded to an even wider range of aquatic flora and fauna—kelp, lobster, shrimp, and neon tetras, to name only a small fraction—it remains inseparable from its core ideology of improvement. More than 25 percent of fish now exploited by humans come from an aquaculture industry that not only continues to cross fish species with each other, but also to cross their genes with those of other animals, including those of humans. A global aquarium hobbyist industry, now the source of most of the world’s domesticated fish, has genetically modified dozens of species to improve their viability, their biology, and ultimately, their marketability.
Many state wildlife agencies around the world continue to engage in duplicitous behavior, promoting the conservation of native species while simultaneously importing aggressive exotics like the rainbow trout that sport anglers demand. While industrial fish farmers in America have imported tilapia from the Nile, and its promotion as an exotic new food has made it the sixth most popular fish consumed there. But this latest revolution is not taking place in the United States, but in a new epicenter in Asia and India, where the industry has come to be grounded in United Nations policies encouraging its use to “improve” the lives of the world’s ever-growing populations.
Above all, the nineteenth-century aquaculture movement remains more than a curious aside to the terrestrially centered, progressive programs of improvement. It was an inseparable part of a Western ideology of improving nature that became increasingly more complex through its engagement of science and state. Exemplary of that process are the following: the scientific forestry developed in Germany that planted forests intended to serve as living lumber depots; the English dog and cattle breeders who transformed animals into specialized breeds and validated their methods through elaborate and culturally codified breeding shows; and Americans in the Midwest who engaged in increasingly scientific methods of crossing their maize and fattening their hogs. In their extreme forms, these ideas even influenced joint efforts by scientists and states to improve the human race through eugenics programs, and the publication of popular human hygiene guides that preached the importance of “good mate selection.” What they all held in common was a desire to manipulate and tweak the biology of species to fit human cultural expectations. What made the aquaculture movement unique is that it succeeded in doing the same with the biota of a landscape still almost completely inaccessible and almost totally unknown to the human species—the world’s waters.
In all these improvement schemes, there was an overwhelming fascination with the fashionable and the exotic. Just as agricultural boards across North America encouraged the importation of new kinds of wheat, state fish commissions and private fish culturists became obsessed with introducing every species of fish, mollusk, and crustacean that they felt could increase the value of their waters. Coho and Atlantic salmon, European carp, and west-coast rainbow trout were seed stock. The waters into which all these fish were broadcast in immeasurable numbers, like fields of corn, eventually became systematically integrated into regimes of scientific management. The result was that seemingly natural places where commercial fishermen, angling tourists, and average citizens came to fish and that had become hybrid ecosystems—part ecology and part human artifice—so successfully merged into human society that only a small minority of trained professionals would notice anything out of place on a menu in Montreal, Omaha, or Paris offering fresh, “local” rainbow trout or tilapia. Such transplantations remain a ubiquitous, if almost completely unrecognized product of the aquaculture revolution.
That the integration was largely successful is hardly in doubt. One need only ponder the unusual level of paranoia perpetuated by the popular media concerning the dangers of accidental “invasions” of foreign aquatic species like the “creepy” Asian snakehead, or the “sinister” zebra mussel. Meanwhile, the far more consequential history of the wholly engineered, state-sponsored “conquests” of aquatic habitats remains almost completely unknown. And, an imperial conquest it surely has been. Linked to common Western ideologies like “Manifest Destiny” and la mission civilisatrice, the aquaculture movement provoked transformations in every nook and cranny of the landscape, including the areas beneath the reflective surface of the planet’s waters.
In his now classic text, Ecological Imperialism, Alfred Crosby referred to an old American folksong, in which “a certain Sweet Betsy from Pike County, Missouri, crosses the mountains … not as an individual immigrant, but part of a grunting, lowing, neighing, crowing, chirping, buzzing, self-replicating and world-altering avalanche.” While less audible and less apparent than Betsy’s terrestrial cohort, “cultured” fish have made a dramatic splash, whose concentric waves, if followed back to their epicenter in nineteenth-century France, remain a testament to a revolutionary human strategy to sow the waters as we have sown the earth, with consequences that continue to reverberate across the entirety of the biosphere.
Darin S. Kinsey is a doctoral candidate at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières. His doctoral dissertation, entitled: “Fashioning a Freshwater Eden: Fish Culture, Elite Anglers and the Creation of Quebec’s Sport Fishery, 1857–1939,” examines the coextensive nature of cultural and ecological change in Quebec’s freshwater habitats.
Much of the research for this paper was conducted during my term as the Joan Nordell Fellow of Harvard University’s Houghton Library, where I worked principally in the Daniel B. Fearing Collection of books and manuscripts on Fisheries, Fish Culture, and Angling. I wish to express my appreciation to the librarians and staff at the Houghton and also the Ernst Mayer Library at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology for their kind assistance, and posthumously to Daniel B. Fearing, whose little red marks in the margins of many of the works in his collection often sent me down long, untrodden paths. In addition, this paper also benefited from a grant from the Fonds québécois de la recherche sur la société et culture. I remain grateful to many people for their commentaries on draft versions of this paper, including the two independent peer reviewers; Willis Hobart, Chief of the NOAA research division; Richard Hoffmann of York University, and Olivier Levasseur of the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle de Paris. Of course, any errors or omissions remain my own.
1. Experts disagree as to the precise definition of aquaculture. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations defines it as the “farming of aquatic organisms including fish, mollusks, crustaceans and aquatic plants with some sort of intervention in the rearing process to enhance production, such as regular stocking, feeding, protection from predators, etc.” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, “Review of the State of World Aquaculture,” ed. Z. Shehadeh and J. Maclean, FAO Fisheries Circular No. 886 FIRI/C886 (Rev.1) (Rome, 1997), 11. This essay takes a purist approach, perhaps more appropriate for environmental historians, defining aquaculture more strictly as an activity of human dominion over the entire life cycle of aquatic species. On the long exploitation of aquatic habitats through “hunting and gathering,” see French environmental historian, Robert Delort, Les Animaux ont une histoire (Paris: Les Editions de Seuil, 1984).
2. Here I have been strongly influenced by Alfred Crosby, Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900–1900 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1986).
3. Olivier Levasseur, “La Gestion des Resources Marines au XVIIIième Siècle,” Mémoires de la Société d’Histoire et d’Archéologie de Bretagne, t. LXXIX, 2001, and Olivier Levasseur, Histoire de l’huître en Bretagne, des origines aux enjeux contemporains (Morlaix: Skol Vreizh, 2006). Anadromous salmon also were used. However, details of salmon migration and reproduction still puzzled naturalists; as such, their juvenile forms most often were defined and treated as freshwater fish.
4. Donald J. Pisani examined fish culture as an American reaction to water pollution: see “Fish Culture and the Dawn of Concern over Water Pollution in the United States,” Environmental Review 8 (1984): 117–31; John Reiger identified its use as part of a seminal conservation movement fostered by American sportsmen in American Sportsmen and the Origins of Conservation, 3rd ed. (Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2001); Joseph Taylor III illustrated how governments in the United States and Canada attempted to use fish culture in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries as a panacea for declining salmon runs. Taylor showed that, in the case of salmon, there could be great dissonance between fish culturists’ rhetoric and results; see Making Salmon: An Environmental History of the Northwest Fisheries Crisis (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1999). Richard Judd’s Common Lands, Common People: The Origins of Conservation in Northern New England (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997) also gives an account of fish culture activities. Two notable historical accounts by fisheries professionals include John Clements, Salmon at the Antipodes: A History and Review of Trout, Salmon and Char and Introduced Coarse Fish in Australia (Skipton, Australia: John Clements, 1988), which contains largely uninterpreted primary source material on nineteenth-century fish introductions in Australia; and R. W. Dunfield, The Atlantic Salmon in the History of North America (Ottawa: Department of Fisheries and Oceans, 1985).
5. In the 1970s, Joseph Ben-David promoted the thesis, around which a school of thought was founded, that French science underwent a significant decline during the nineteenth century. That thesis was successfully challenged by the scholarship of Harry W. Paul, Terry Shinn, George Weisz, Robert Fox, and Mary Joe Nye. For a brief overview of the thesis of decline, see C. R. Day, “Science, Applied Science and Higher Education in France 1870–1940, An Historiographical Survey since the 1950s,” Journal of Social History 4 (1992): 367–84; and Harry Paul, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: The French Scientist’s Image of German Science, 1840–1919 (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1972).
6. Jules Haime, “La pisciculture,” Revue des Deux Mondes (June 15, 1854): 1006–31. In this work, Haime offers a long discussion of the history of poor management of fishery resources and the “evil” effects of encroaching industry, but these concerns remained one issue within a larger theme. They further illustrate that Haime’s acknowledgment of the limited nature of resources was not new, but part of a conservation ethic long established in royal prerogatives of pre-modern European society. For a more complete discussion of this issue, see Michel F. Girard, “Conservation and the Gospel of Efficiency: Un modèle de gestion de l’environnement venu d’Europe?” Social History/Histoire Sociale 23 (1990): 63–79.
7. The material on fisheries compiled by Denis Diderot for his Éncyclopédie (1750) were written by François Le Masson du Parc, the first French Inspector of Fisheries. Le Masson du Parc died before being able to complete his Traité général de la pêche. His notes were compiled by Duhamel du Monçeau and incorporated into his Traité général de la Pêche in 1769. Both men became key figures in the development of French fisheries policy during the period; see Georges Cuvier and Achille Valenciennes, Histoire Naturelle des poissons (Paris: Chez F. G. Levrault, 1828–1849).
8. A detailed description of many Egyptian and Roman practices is found in the Greek and Latin texts that were carefully catalogued and described in S. B. J. Nöel’s Histoire générale des pêches anciennes et modernes (Paris: De l’Imprimerie Royale, 1815). Nöel’s was the most in-depth study of fisheries to have been undertaken by the French government during the nineteenth century. Of the ten volumes planned, however, only one was published because of Nöel’s untimely death from leprosy during a scientific expedition to Drontheim, Norway. Several other volumes were left in manuscript form; for a modern study of fish culture in Ancient Rome, see James Higginbotham, Piscinae: Artificial Fish Ponds in Roman Italy (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997). Michael Aston, ed., Medieval Fish, Fisheries and Fishponds (Oxford: B.A.R. 1988) provides a survey, primarily archaeological, of fish pond use in England; in the 1970s, Eugene Balon identified the Danube as a focal point for a wild population of carp in Europe that would become the locus of European carp domestication and culture; see Eugene Balon, “About the Oldest Domesticates among Species” Journal of Fish Biology 65 (2004): 1–27. Balon theorized that carp culture spread across Western Europe via Roman influence. Richard Hoffmann’s scholarship, supported by archaeological evidence and medieval sources, reveals that the westward spread of carp culture actually took place throughout the medieval period. See Richard Hoffmann, “Remains and Verbal Evidence of Carp (Cyprinus carpio) in Medieval Europe” in Fish Exploitation in the Past. Proceedings of the 7th Meeting of the I.C.A.Z. Fish Remains Working Group, ed. Wim Van Neer (Annales du Musée Royal de l’Afrique Central, Sciences Zoologiques 274, 1994): 139–50, and Richard Hoffmann, “Fish and Men: Changing Relationships in Medieval Central Europe,” Beiträge Zur Mittelalter Archäologie in Öesterreich 15 (1999): 187–96. Hoffmann also shows that one of the central points of carp culture was in France, see Richard Hoffmann, “Carpes pour le Duc … The Operation of Fish Ponds at La Perrière-sur-Saône, Burgundy, 1338–52,” Archaeofauna [Madrid] 4 (1995): 33–45. Primary sources on fish husbandry during the pre-modern period include John Taverner, Certaine Experiments Concerning Fish and Fruite (London: Printed for William Ponsoby, 1600); Gervase Markham, Cheap and Good Husbandry (London: Printed by T. B. for Hannah Sawbridge, 1631); Jonas Moore, England’s Interest, or the Gentleman and Farmer’s Friend (London: Printed and sold by J. How, 1697); Jean Cussac, Pisciceptologie, ou l’art de la pêche (Paris: Cussac, 1816); and Roger North, A Discourse on Fish and Fishponds (London: Printed for E. Curll, 1715). On the zoology of domestication and the differing regimes of animal exploitation, see Juliet Clutton-Brock, A Natural History of Domesticated Mammals (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1987). In the English system, fish for personal consumption or market were kept in sub-ponds called “stews,” with separate ponds for the parent fish called “breeders,” as described in Thomas Best, A Concise Treatise on the Art of Angling (London: Printed for C. Stalker, 1787); French systems were similar.
9. This is an abridged description of trout and salmon development that describes the artificial fecundation and rearing process as far as it was normally taken throughout the nineteenth century. For a more detailed scientific description, see Peter B. Moyle and Joseph J. Cech, Jr., Fishes: An Introduction to Ichthyology, 4th ed. (Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 2000), 273.
10. Baron de Montgaudry, “Observations sur la pisciculture,” Bulletin de la Société Zoologique d’Acclimitation (1854): 80–90; Montgaudry also noted that in the region of Châtillon sur Seine, in 1735, similar methods of fish culture were described by monks in a “local newspaper,” but again, no details were given. Montgaudry was a grand-nephew of Buffon and had ready access to his archives, most of which were later destroyed by fire. Both Aston’s and Hoffmann’s work challenges a common assumption that monasteries were centers of fish husbandry activities, noting that there have been no specific studies to test these assumptions. Both demonstrate, however, that fish husbandry activities were largely associated with elite governance; the difficulty of finding a solution to the conundrum of assigning the priority of discovery of artificial fecundation is compounded by the fact that this method of artificial fecundation was arrived at empirically; thus allowing for independent “discovery” and “rediscovery” in many different places at many different times and bringing into question even contemporary beliefs that theirs was a modern practice; sources identify Jacobi variously with the last letter “i” and “y.” Here the spelling “Jacobi” is used throughout for consistency.
11. On Jacobi, see Haime, “La pisciculture,” 1015–18; and George Brown Goode, “Epochs in Fish Culture,” Transactions of the American Fish Culturists’ Association (New York, 1881): 34–36. Early accounts also occasionally mentioned a previous discovery by a “Count of Goldstein”; other sources identified Goldstein and Jacobi as the same person. Victor Coste clarified the situation in his Instructions Pratiques sur la pisciculture. (Paris: V. Masson, 1853), 29–30, by showing that Goldstein served as the intermediary for Jacobi’s writings published in France. Jacobi’s methods from “Translation of a Letter from the Hanover Magazine” 23 (March 21, 1763), gave an account of a method to breed fish to advantage; “Extract from the Hanover Magazine” 4 (January 12, 1765); and “Extract from the Hanover Magazine” 62 (August 5, 1765). One consequence of raising fish in an artificial environment free of predators was the survival of deformed fish that would not have lived under natural conditions. Jacobi noted among the fry the appearance of fused, “double-headed monstrosities,” as did later practitioners. French embryologist Armand de Quatrefages studied the phenomenon in his Mémoire sur la Monstruosité Double Chez les Poissons (Paris, 1874).
12. Best, Concise Treatise, 30; The English and French Cook: describing the best and newest ways of ordering and dressing all sorts of flesh, fish and fowl, etc. (printed for Simon Miller at the Star, at the west-end of St. Pauls London, 1674); T. Hall, The Queen’s Royal Cookery, or Expert and ready way for the dressing of all sorts of flesh, fowl, fish; with their several sauses and salads. And making all sorts of pickles. Also making variety of pies, pastries, etc. (Printed for C. Bat[es], etc.: London, 1709); Cussac’s Pisciceptologie also contains numerous medicinal and culinary recipes for carp, indeed, more than any other species mentioned in the entire text.
13. Izaak Walton, The Compleat Angler or the Contemplative Man’s Recreation (London: Printed by T. Maxey for Rich. Marriot, 1653), 2; see also Thomas Zouch, The Life of Isaac Walton: Including Notices of His Contemporaries (London: S.Prowett, 1823).
14. Moyle and Cech, Introduction to Ichthyology, 271–73.
15. Some of the more noteworthy experiments included John Shaw, Elements in the Development and Growth of Salmon-fry (Edinburgh, 1840); and Gottlieb Boccius, Fish in Rivers and Streams: A Treatise on the Production and Management of Fish in Fresh Waters, by Artificial Spawning, Breeding and Rearing: Showing Also the Cause of the Depletion of all Rivers and Streams (London: J.Van Voorst, 1848). Boccius claimed to have used his methods much earlier, but he was later impeached; see Haime, “La pisciculture,” 1018. Although Boccius’s work pointed in the direction that English fish culture and later American efforts would take, his interest was atypical of continental concerns, where industrialization was moving at a much slower pace; despite later pronouncements that his experiments were largely successful, this appears doubtful. M. le Marquis de Vibray’s “Observation’s sur la pisciculture,” Bulletin de la Société d’Acclimitation 1 (1854): 3–4, is one of the most frank accounts of the numerous difficulties that early fish culturists had in duplicating Jacobi’s methods; Louis Agassiz and Karl Vogt, Histoire naturelle des poissons d’eau douce de l’Europe Centrale (Neuchâtel: Aux frais de l’auteur, impr. d’O. Petitpierre [etc.], 1839); Jacobi, “Extract from the Hanover Magazine” 4, 23. Dabry de Thiersant, La pêche et pisciculture en Chine, (Paris, 1871), 6–8, noted that in 1758, the captain of the French ship learned of Jacobi’s methods during a port call to Hamel en Hanover. He transmitted the information to Buffon, who confided it to Lacépède. In 1773, Duhamel de Monceau published an account of Jacobi’s methods in his Histoire générale de la pêche, and Lacépède included an account in his Histoire des poissons; Marc Eliezar, Icthyologie générale et particulière, première partie (1795), 94. Spallanzani used the methods with frogs, attempting to hatch them in containers of lemon juice; see Lazare Spallanzani, Éxperiences pour servir a l’histoire de la génération des animaux et des plantes (Genève: Chez Barthelemi Chirol, libraire, 1785). In 1772, the French botanist Michel Adanson delivered lectures at the Jardin Royale in Paris, giving special attention to German efforts. Also see Humphry Davy, Salmonia, (London, 1829); it is to Davy that credit has been given for bringing Jacobi’s work to the attention of King George III; “Extract from the Hanover Magazine” 62, 8. de Thiersant, La pêche et pisciculture en Chine, 6–7, noted, “Fish culture is a common practice … along the Weser, in Switzerland, in the Palatinat of the Rhine and most of the mountainous and elevated areas of Germany.” Other efforts were mentioned between 1815 and 1837 in the principalities of Waldeck and Meurebach. Also noted were efforts in 1824 to stock the waters of Schauenbourg-Lippe with trout; in 1827 in Schieder to restock the principal waters of Lippe and in the Duchy of Sax-Cobourg; similar efforts were described in Detmond in 1834.
16. Baron de Rivière, Considérations sur les poissons, et particulièrement sur les Anguilles (Mémoire lu à la Société Royale et Centrale d’Agriculture, 1er Juillet 1840), 1–30.
17. For a discussion of the effects of the revolution on the democratization of science, see E. C. Spary, Utopia’s Garden: French Natural History from Old Regime to Revolution (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000); these Sociétés d’Émulation were popular in nineteenth-century France, with some departments having more than one; most still exist today.
18. Haime, “La pisciculture,” 1018–19; Crane Brinton, The Anatomy of Revolution (New York: Vintage Books, 1965).
19. Armand de Quatrefages, Comptes-rendus de l’Académie des Sciences 36 (1853): 936.
20. On the intellectual schism on the origin of species in France between Saint-Hilaire and Cuvier, see Hervé le Guyader, Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire: A Visionary Naturalist, trans. Marjorie Grene (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004). A copy of the original letter by Joseph Rémy can be found in Louis Figuier’s Les merveilles de la science ou description populaire des inventions modernes. Photographie, stéréoscope, poudres de guerre, artillerie ancienne et moderne, armes à feu portatives, bâtiments cuirassés, drainage, pisciculture (Edité par Furne, Jouvet et cie.: Paris, c. 1870), 671. Figuier was another major figure in the vulgarization of French science during the period. For more on his work, see Daniel Raichvarg and Jean Jacques, Savants et ignorants: Une histoire de la vulgarisation des sciences (Paris: Seuil, 1991).
21. Abbé Moigno was a popular and prolific scientific author and translator of foreign scientific treatises. A sample of Moigno’s writing campaign can be found in la Presse (April 16, 1849); the scientific journal, le Pays (July 13, 1851); and le Journal des Débats (June 24, 1849–51). See also Le Docteur Haxo d’Epinal, De la fecondation artificielle des oeufs de poissons et de leur éclosion, au Moyen des procédès découvertes par MM. Remy et Géhin (Épinal: De l’Imprimerie de veuve Gley, 1852), 77. Haxo’s nintey-three-page account leaves no doubt as to his negative opinion of the attitudes and actions of elite, Parisian scientists. He wrote a follow-up, the Guide du pisciculteur, after receiving notes furnished by Joseph Remy (Librarie Centrale d’Agriculture et de Jardinage: Paris, 1854). Haxo never wavered in his belief that Remy and Géhin were the true inventors of artificial fecundation because they were the first to prove that it had practical applications. After his victory in gaining recognition for their efforts, Haxo’s work and opinions were generally ignored by the Parisian scientific elite; see also accounts in the Annales de la Société d’Émulations des Vosges 9 (1855); private letters from Haxo to other members, including Dr. Jean-Baptiste Mougeot (1776–1858) botanist, mineralogist, and member of the Conseil Général du Département des Vosges, who gave further insight into Haxo’s efforts: Manuscrits 2492, 2510, 2517; pièces 3744–92: Dr. Haxo, January 27, 1847-January 29, 1856; pièces 7593–7600: Maud’heux, January 22, 1847, and May 24, 1860; pièces 8963–67: Société d’Émulation du Département des Vosges, correspondance officielle avec les secrétaires: L. Briguel, A. Ballon, Dr. Haxo, imprimés, 1842–1849, Archives de la Bibliothèque centrale du Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris.
22. A more accurate and detailed account of the work and conclusions of the committee is found in Victor Coste, Instructions pratiques. Haxo, who found his work neither “instructive” nor “practical” maintained a steady polemic against Coste. Haxo’s campaign against Coste was supported by others, including Victor Meunier, a celebrated scientific journalist who campaigned against scientific elitism in general. Meunier published a special series in support of the use of fish culture, but at the same time railed against its imperial representative, Victor Coste, calling him a propagator of “les poissons d’avril.” (A play on words, “April fishes,” a common colloquialism for the folly surrounding the first of April ironically in France, was associated with the appearance of young fish in the rivers and streams in early April, fish that were supposedly easy to catch with hook and line; used in the same sense as the Anglo-Saxon, “April Fools”); see Raichvarg and Coste, Savants et ignorants, 71–75. Note that all references to Milne-Edwards in this paper are to Henri, not his son Alphonse. A descriptive account of the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle of Paris and its academic culture is found in Camille Limoges, “The Development of the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle of Paris, c. 1800–1914,” in The Organization of Science and Technology in France, 1800–1914, ed. Robert Fox (Cambridge University Press: London, 1980), 211–46.
23. Figuier, Les merveilles de la science, 672, gives different figures for the rewards given the two men; other sources vary as well. Here the state version provided by Victor Coste in Instructions pratiques is used.
24. C. E. Godenier, Treatise on the Artificial Fecundation and Incubation of the Eggs of Fish and the Breeding of the Young Fish, According to the Processes of Messers. Gehin and Remy. Prepared from the facts furnished by M. Gehin, trans. William Henry Fry and published in his A Complete Treatise on Artificial Fish Breeding (New York: D. Appelon and Co., 1854), 21–23; For a German perspective on these events, see Unweifung zur künstlichen fortpflanzung der fische ober die unft Fische zu fäen wie man Getreide fäet, von Géhin und Remy (Drud und Commissionsverlag des Berlags-Comptoir: Grimma und Leipzig, 1851).
25. M. le Dr. Séré, “Rapport sur l’établissement d’Huningue et les Services qu’il rend à l’acclimitation,” Bulletin de la Société Zoologique d’Acclimitation 2 (1855); A. M. Ernest Leroy and Le Dr. Pouchet, Rapport sur les Établissement de Pisciculture d’Huningue et du Wolfsbrunnen (Rouen, 1856), 6, estimated expenditures up to, and including 1856, were 150,000 francs. Wolfsbrunnen was a sub-center for experimentation with trout domestication. On Huningue as an application of industry, see Coste, Instructions Pratique, preface; and Auguste Jourdier, La Pisciculture et la production des sangsues, (Librairie de L. Hachette et Cie Paris), 1856).
26. Leroy and Pouchet, Rapport sur les etablissement de pisciculture, 19. Public interest is measured here by the number of associations that had attachments to Huningue: In 1854–1855, there were seven French groups and two foreign groups, and by 1861–1862, there were fifty-nine French and sixteen foreign, ibid., 50; For an official account of the daily activities and a log of the acclimatization and transplantation activities, see Ministère de l’Agriculture de Commerce et des Travaux Publics, Direction Générale des Ponts et Chaussées et des Chemins de Fer, Notice historique sur l’etablissement de pisciculture de Huningue (Strasbourg: Imprimerie de veuve Berger-Levrault, 1862). Emile Blanchard, Les poissons de l’eau douce de la France (Paris: 1866), offers typical criticism of the “deception” of fish-culture efforts in Nelson Cazeils Autrefois la pêche en aux douce: insolite, histoires, traditions, et savoir-faire (Paris: Ouest-France, 2003), 89.
27. David Baguley’s Napoleon III and His Regime: An Extravaganza (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2000) is a balanced account of a man and a period that have been seen mostly in a negative light. While not entirely sympathetic, it gives measured attention to the significant political and social accomplishments of the Second Empire. Jules Clavé, Le reboisement et la régime des eaux en France (Paris, 1859).
28. Richard (du Cantal), “Rapport fait àla Société Zoologique d’Acclimitation,” Bulletin de la Société Zoologique d’Acclimitation 1 (1854); on the creation and development of the Société, see Michael A. Osbourne, Nature, the Exotic and the Science of French Colonialism (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994); on the philosophy of Saint-Hilaire, see Jean-Pierre Digard, L’homme et les animaux domestiques: Anthropologie d’une passion (Paris: Éditions Fayard, 1990), 30–31; on the role of gardens and zoos in Europe in general during the period, see Éric Baratay and Élisabeth Hardouin-Fugier, Zoos: Histoire des Jardins Zoologiques en occident, XVIe-XXe siècle (Paris: La Découverte, 1998).
29. Although Benedict Henri Révoil’s personal scrapbook, “Album de Chasse,” contains mostly undated newspaper clippings from Parisian newspapers, the clippings are circa mid- to late-nineteenth century and provide a colorful, contemporary account of the popular interest in the Société d’Acclimitation’s activities during the period (Paris: c. 1860), Fearing Collection of the Houghton Library; Bulletin de la Société d’Acclimitation 1 (1854).
30. Desmond Seward, Eugénie: The Empress and Her Empire (Stroud, Gloucestershire: Sutton, 2004); Napoleon III took a particular interest in fish culture experimentation, personally visiting Coste’s laboratories and aquaria in March of 1858, after which he provided additional funding to enlarge the site. See Emmanuel Fauré-Fremiet, Notice sur la vie et les travaux de Victor Coste, 1807–1873 (Paris: Palais de l’Institut, 1960), 27; Victor Coste, Voyage d’exploration sur le littoral de la France et de l’Italie et rapport au ministre aur les industries de commachio, du lac Fusaro, etc. (Paris, 1855). See also Victor Coste, La nature: Revue des sciences et de leurs applications aux arts et à l’industrie 1 (Paris: 1873) : 295–98.
31. Fauré-Fremiet, Notice, 31. For the rest of Coste’s life his research had something to do with aquatic species, and his efforts in that regard led to a measure of international renown that had eluded him in his embryological studies.
32. Coste, Instructions pratiques, 89.
33. Jourdier, “La pisciculture,” 37; Coste, Instructions pratiques, trans. in Fry, Treatise, 51–52.
34. Haime, “La pisciculture,” 1018–19.
35. Armand de Quatrefages, “Fertilité et Culture de l’Eau,” Bulletin de la Société d’Acclimitation 9 (1862): 40–80; P. Vivier’s “Un important centenaire: Remy, Géhin, Le Docteur Haxo d’Epinal, Coste et l’établissement domanial de pisciculture d’Huningue, (1843–1853–1953),” Bulletin Française de la Pêche et de la Pisciculture 181 (1956): 121–39, is a French centennial remembrance of these events.
36. On European governments’ reactions to the work at Huningue, see Jourdier, La pisciculture, 20–22; on criticism of the lack of British government participation, see Francis Francis, Fish Culture: A Practical Guide to the Modern System of Breeding and Rearing Fish (London, 1863). A discussion of a general English lack of interest in exploiting its fishery resources fully is contained in James Bertram, The Harvest of the Sea (London: A. Gardener, 1865). While the English government did not get involved, many individuals and groups did. One notable effort was that of Robert Ramsbottom, who built an operation on the Tay; see his The Salmon and its Artificial Propagation (London: Simpkin, Marshall & Co., 1854). It would take much longer for larger-scale efforts to emerge; see J. Ramsay Gibson Maitland, The History of Howietoun (Stirling, 1887); and in Ireland, see Noel Wilkins, Ponds, Passes and Parcs: Aquaculture in Victorian Ireland (Dublin: Glendale, 1989), which is also an excellent account of the aquaculture movement as a whole.
37. Visite à l’Exposition Universelle de Paris, en 1855 (Paris: L. Hachette et Cie., 1855); Jules Clavé, “La Pêche et la Pisciculture à l’Exposition Universelle,” Revue des Deux Mondes (Paris : Bureau de la Revue des Deux Mondes Editeur, 1868). For accounts of fish culture at fisheries expositions, see United States National Museum, Exhibit of the Fisheries and Fish Culture of the United States of America (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1880); Levi Morton, “Fisheries and Fish Culture. Their Importance to the Industries and Wealth of the Country,” The International Fishery Exhibition at Berlin, Germany, April 1880, Delivered in the U.S. House of Representatives (Washington, D.C.: 1880); Amtliche berchte über die Internationale fischerei-ausstellung zu Berlin (Berlin: P. Parey, 1881); Godfrey Turner, International Fisheries Exhibition. Official Guide (London: W. Clowes and Sons, Limited, 1883); Frederick Whymper, The Fisheries of the World: An Illustrated and Descriptive Record of the International Fisheries Exhibition (London: Cassel, 1884).
38. Fry, Treatise, iii–iv.
39. Americans, like others across Europe, had engaged in small-scale transplantations of fish long before this period. Theodore Gill noted several such attempts to “colonize” fish in his “Pisciculture with Reference to American Waters,” U.S. Department of Agriculture Report of Commissioners (1866): 399–422. While interesting anecdotes, these transplantations were comparatively limited. Goode mentioned in “Epochs” some correspondence between Jacobi and American colonists; see L. Hapke, “Zur Entdeckungsgeschichte des Konstilichen Fishzucht,” Abhandlungen des Naturewissenschaftlichen Vereins 6 (1876): 157–64; and the Rev. John Bachmann, of Charleston, South Carolina, claimed to have conducted artificial fecundation experiments with trout in 1804, according to the Journal of the Agricultural Society of South Carolina in 1855. No evidence indicates that these correspondences or Bachmann’s work led to any systematic efforts in the United States. Richard Judd cited Louis Agassiz’s claim to have been the first to experiment with artificial fecundation in America in a “washbasin in his bedroom” in 1840, in “Origins of Fish Culture” in Common Lands, Common People, 149. Agassiz’s earlier work on artificial fecundation in Switzerland in the 1830s was certainly more sophisticated. No evidence indicates that his “washbasin” experiment was connected in any way with the spread of a larger American movement, either.
40. Fry, Treatise, v.
41. George Perkins Marsh, Report Made under the Authority of the Legislature of Vermont on Artificial Propagation of Fish (Burlington, Vt., 1857); George Perkins Marsh, ed. David Lowenthal, Man and Nature (Cambridge: C. Scribner, 1965), 102; David Lowenthal indicated that Marsh’s long-standing feud with Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune could have had something to do with his attitude toward Fry, who was closely associated with the paper. George Perkins Marsh: Versatile Vermonter (New York: Columbia University Press, 1958), 130.
42. Richard W. Judd’s “George Perkins Marsh: The Times and their Man,” Environment and History 10 (2004): 169–190, better addresses Marsh’s work in the context of the period. On American Francophobia in general, see Jean-Phillipe Mathy, “The System of Francophobia,” French Politics, Culture and Society 21 (2003): 21–22; and in particular, Michael Kammen, Mystic Chords of Memory: The Transformation of Tradition in American Culture (New York: Vintage Press, 1991), 172. On anti-intellectualism, see Richard Hofstadter, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life (New York: Knopf, 1962); and Michel Bréal, Quelques mots sur l’instruction publique en France (Paris: Hachette et cie., 1872), 1–11. A modern study of the phenomenon is Robert Fox’s “Science, the University, and the State in Nineteenth-Century France,” in Professions and the French State, 1700–1900, ed. G. L. Geison (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1984). One of the most noteworthy examples of national attitudes toward France was the great ambiguity shown toward the “gift” of the Statue of Liberty. Now an iconic image of America, it took nearly a decade and a massive publicity campaign by Joseph Pulitzer before Americans came up with the funds to build the statue’s base; see Simon Newcomb, “France as a Field for American Students,” Articles by Simon Newcomb Bound into a Larger Volume of Alumni Writings, Harvard University Widener Library (c. 1870).
43. Edward Lurie, Nature and the American Mind: Louis Agassiz and the Culture of Science (New York: Science History Publications, 1974), 10. On German immigration, see Don Dodd, Historical Statistics of the United States: Two Centuries of the Census, 1790–1990 (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1993).
44. John Hamilton Slack’s Practical Trout Culture (New York: American News Co., 1872) was one of the few works to see French efforts as the source of a modern scientific movement, 17; Theodatus Garlick, A Treatise of the Artificial Propagation of Fish, with the Description and Habits of Such Kinds as are the Most Suitable for Pisciculture (New York: T. Brown, 1858); here I allude to and remain influenced by the work of Michael Kammen, Mystic Chords of Memory. Nationalistic sentiments extended even to interpretations of the biology of fishes. Theodore Gill proposed that in fish culture, “The attention of man may, therefore, be directed with the greatest advantage to such species as exercise no care for their eggs or young. Almost all the European species exhibit such neglect; but many of the fishes of this country guard, with jealous care, the eggs and young,” Gill, “Pisciculture with Reference to American Waters,” 398.
45. Theodatus Garlick, Hybridization of Fish, paper read before the Kirtland Society of Natural Sciences (Cleveland, 1873), 45–48.
46. Popular accounts of this period also can be found generally in Field and Stream and the American Fish Culturist, as well as “Fish Farming in New York,” Harper’s Monthly Magazine 36 (1867): 47–50; and “Fish Culture in America,” Harper’s Monthly Magazine 37 (1868): 732–36. See also Thaddeus Norris, American Fish-Culture, Embracing all the Details of Artificial Breeding and Rearing of Trout: The Culture of Salmon, Shad, and Other Fishes (Philadelphia: Porter & Coates, 1868), 24; Seth Green, Trout Culture (New York: Green and A. S. Collins, 1870); Sylvia R. Black, “Seth Green: Father of Fish Culture,” Rochester History 6 (1944): 2–24; Fish Hatching and Fish Catching (Rochester, N.Y.: Union and Advertiser Co., 1879); and R. Barnwell Roosevelt; Home Fishing and Home Waters: A Practical Treatise on Fish Culture (New York: O. Judd Co., 1888). Green went on to become the superintendent of fisheries of the State of New York, and for his work on promoting fish culture in America, the French Société Zoologique d’Acclimitation awarded him a first-class medal; see also Stephen H. Ainsworth, “Restoring the Streams with Fish,” Ontario County Times (1867). Although Ainsworth did not write as prolifically as many other well-known American fish culturists, his work was written about widely; see M. J. Léon Soubeiran, “Pisciculture dans l’Amérique du Nord,” Bulletin de la Société d’Acclimitation 8 (1871): 1–24; this paper was republished in Dabry de Thiersant’s La pêche et pisciculture en Chine.
47. Green’s Trout Culture, covering New York, and John Slack’s Practical Trout Culture give an indication of these early commercial efforts.
48. Paul E. Thompson, “The First Fifty Years—The Exciting Ones,” in A Century of Fisheries in North America, ed. Norman Benson, Special Publication No. 7 (Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, 1970), 1–11; this source, while valuable, is clearly a sympathetic account; see also the Transactions of the American Fish Culture Association [AFCA], 1870–1890. Many aspects of the AFCA merit a more objective analysis. For instance, it is evident that members saw the ability to reproduce fish at will and sell the fecundated eggs in pecuniary terms. Moreover, this group’s activities require a more critical evaluation within the context of widespread cronyism and corruption of the Grant administration. On hybridization, see Transactions of the American Fish Cultural Association, Tenth Annual Meeting (New York, 1881), 6–9.
49. On the life and work of Spencer Fullerton Baird, see Dean Conrad Allard, Spencer Fullerton Baird and the US Fish Commission: A Study in the History of American Science (New York: Arno Press, 1979); The Reports of the United States Commission on Fish and Fisheries, 1871–1940. Although the oyster was a significant fisheries commodity in the United States, the artificial oyster culture that was being developed in France did not attract much attention.
50. Similar sentiments can be found in N. W. Clark, Pisciculture an Address on the Artificial Breeding of Fish (Detroit: Tribune printing Co., 1875). Baird made his gifts of ova and funding contingent upon the state’s creation of an official state fish commission; by 1889, thirty-five of forty-two U.S. states had a fish commission and were actively engaged in fish culture activities. In addition, by 1885, there twelve federal hatcheries were being operated throughout Canada in the provinces of British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince-Edward Island.
51. Horace Greeley, et al., Great Industries of the United States: Being an Historical Summary of the Origin, Growth and Perfection of the Chief Industrial Arts of this Country (Hartford, Conn.: J. B. Burr & Hyde, 1872); Livingston Stone, “Some Brief Reminiscences of the Early Days of Fish-Culture in the United States,” Bulletin of the U.S. Fish Commission (Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, 1898): 337–43; John R. Leonard, The Fish Car Era of the National Fish Hatchery System (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1979); Jerry C. Towle, “Authored Ecosystems: Livingston Stone and the Transformation of California Fisheries,” Environmental History 5 (January 2000): 54–74. For a more complete account of Stone’s work for the fisheries in Oregon and the Northwest, see Taylor’s Making Salmon.
52. The slaughter of the animals was famously recorded by Victor Hugo in his Carnets Intimes de 1870–71 (Paris: Gallimard, 1953), 88; Révoil, “Scrapbook.”
53. Fauré-Fremiet, Notice, 29; Olivier Levasseur, “‘The Birth of the ‘Culture of Water:’ The Development of Oyster Culture in France in the Eighteenth and the Nineteenth Century,” History and Sustainability, Proceedings of the Third International Conference of the European Society for Environmental History, Firenze: Università di Firenze, European Society for Environmental History, 2005. The Huningue hatchery still operates today on a small scale, introducing salmon into the Rhine. It is also the site of a small research facility and nature reserve called the Petite Camargue Alsacienne.
54. H. Haact, Die rationelle Fischzucht (Leipzig : E. Peter, 1872).
55. The whitefish were referred to as “Madue maraena,” which have been speculated by ichthyologists to be the C. lavaretus, from T. N. Todd, “The Feasibility of Mass-culturing Coregonines in the Great Lakes. Research Completion Report” (February, 1983), unpublished mimeograph.
56. United States National Museum, Exhibit of the Fisheries; Goode, “Epochs,” 50–55.
57. See George Brown Goode, The Smithsonian Institution 1846–1896: The History of Its First Half Century (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1897), 188–91.
58. While Goode served in the position for only five months, his brief tenure included the implementation of sweeping changes to the USFC’s bureaucratic structure and subsequent mission. Goode edited the U.S. Fish Commission’s Fisheries and Fishery Industries of the United States. 5 Sections (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1884–1887). The influence of French encyclopedic studies of aquatic habits, fish and fisheries on this work is unmistakable; Goode, “Epochs,” 40; Alice N. Hays, David Starr Jordan: A Bibliography of His Writings 1871–1931 (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1952).
59. Goode, “Epochs,” 37.
60. Goode used as a primary source an English translation of Jules Haime’s, “History of Fish Culture,” by Gamaliel Bradford, published in the Report of Commissioners Appointed under Resolve of 1856, chapter 58 of the legislature of Massachusetts (Boston, 1857). As an example of French candor, Haime said of Dom Pinchon’s treatise, “he is, in all probability, the inventor of artificial fecundation, but his experiments must be looked upon as not having occurred, since they were not made public. They have, of course, had no influence on the progress of pisciculture, and are only interesting in a historical point of view.” He then went on to discuss Jacobi’s work and results in detail, 472. The prejudices apparent in Goode’s “Epochs” are more difficult to understand knowing that he served as the secretary, during the same period, of a special joint committee with France designed to gain greater access to American students in its universities; see S. P. Langley, Memoir of George Brown Goode, 1851–1896 (Washington, D.C.: Judd & Detweiler, printers, 1897), 29.
61. Goode, “Epochs,” 41–42.
62. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations operates a special program called “Fish Base,” a global database of freshwater fish introductions. This project, however, relies on self-reporting by state and national governments, which do not always have access to, or use, historical information. Still the project’s results show an exponential increase in fish introductions beginning in the mid-nineteenth century.
63. On the carp ponds of Washington, D.C., see Rudolf Hessel, The Carp and its Culture in Rivers and Lakes; and its Introduction into America (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1880). For a view of these ponds and associated activities from a popular British perspective, see “Progress in Fish Culture,” The Century Magazine, 27 (1884): 901–13. For more information on Herr Von Behr and the USFC, see Stone, “Some Brief Reminiscences,” 342–43.
64. Darin Scott Kinsey, “Fish Culture and Public Policy in Nebraska, 1879–1929” (M.A. thesis, University of Nebraska, 1997).
65. Fry, Treatise, ix; United States War Department, Reports of Explorations and Surveys, to Ascertain the Most Practicable and Economical Route for a Railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean. Vol. 8, Part IV. Charles Girard, Part 4. General Report upon the Zoology of the Several Pacific Railroad Routes. Fishes (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1855–1860). Baird worked on the report of birds and reptiles.
66. For wholesale prices of fish, as well as information on the fishing industry as a whole in the United States, see The (New York) Fishing Gazette, a weekly trade journal that began publication in 1866. During the last decade of the twentieth century, the price for “German” carp in New York’s wholesale market rarely exceeded ten cents a fish. They generally sold for far less. In comparison, trout sold for fifty to sixty cents each and occasionally went as high as a dollar each.
67. Old Fin, “Exit the Carp,” The American Angler: An Illustrated Magazine of Fish, Fishing and Fish Culture 21 (1891): 179–81; “The Useless Carp,” American Angler 25 (1895): 176; “Once again the Carp,” and “In Defense of the Carp,” American Angler 26 (1896): 101–03; “The Proper and Only Use for the Carp,” American Angler 27, (1897): 249. “Concerning Carp in America,” The Fishing Gazette (London) (August 5, 1899): 131; C. W. Smiley, “Some Results of Carp Culture in the United States,” Report of the Commissioner of Fish and Fisheries for 1884, Part XII, U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries, (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1884): 657–890; “Group Seeks Use for Unwelcome Carp in Utah” ABC News Online, March 24, 2006, http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory?id=1766007&page;=1.
68. H. R. MacCrimmon, “World Distribution of Rainbow Trout (Salmo Gairdneri),” Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada 28 (1971): 663–704. The taxonomy for rainbow trout was changed in 1989; see G. R. Smith and R. F. Stearley, “The Classification and Scientific Names of Rainbow Trout and Cutthroat Trouts,” Fisheries 14 (1989): 4–10; E. A. Tulian, “Acclimatization of American Fishes in Argentina,” Bulletin of the Bureau of Fisheries, 28 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1910): 957–65; Franz von Pirko, “Naturalization of American Fishes in Austrian Waters,” Bulletin of the Bureau of Fisheries 28 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1910): 979–81; Guiseppe Besna, “American Fishes in Italy,” Bulletin of the Bureau of Fisheries, 28 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1910): 949–54; L. F. Ayson, “Introduction of American Fishes into New Zealand, Bulletin of the Bureau of Fisheries (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1910): 969–75. For Chile, see Pedro Golusda, “Transporte de Pesces Vivos en Alemania,” Boletin de Bosques, Pesca I Caza 1 (1912): 407–08. On introductions of rainbow trout into Japan in 1877, see “Rainbow Trout in Japan,” American Fish Culturist 1 (1904): 8. Trade and hobby magazines, such as American Fish Culturist and American Angler and the Fishing Gazette of New York and London, and even aquarium hobbyist journals of the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, such as Aquatic Life, provide much information about species introductions.
69. Napoleon Alexander Comeau, Life and Sport on the North Shore of the Lower St. Lawrence and Gulf Containing Chapters on Salmon Fishing, Trapping, the Folklore of the Montagnais Indians and Tales of Adventure on the Fringe of Labrador Peninsula (Daily Telegraph Printing: Quebec, 1923), 363.
70. On the introduction of rainbow trout into South Africa and the hatchery infrastructure developed by British anglers there, see Arthur H. Reid, Trout and Angling in South Africa (Johannesburg: Specialty Press, 1921); South African Railways, Trout Fishing in South Africa, Official Illustrated Guide to Trout Fishing in South Africa (Johannesburg, 1916); B. Bennion, The Trout are Rising in England and South Africa: A Book for Slippered Ease (London: John Lane Co., 1920); B. Bennion, The Angler in South Africa (Johannesburg: Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent, 1923); Francis Day, Report on the Fresh Water Fish and Fisheries of India and Burma (Calcutta: Government Press, 1873). For more detailed information on the French intellectual origins of the Australian fish culture movement, see Clements, Salmon at the Antipodes; Anthony J. Harrison, Savant of the Australian Seas: William Saville-Kent, 1845–1908 (Tasmanian Historical Research Association: Hobart, 1997), and Marianne E. Lien, “‘King of Fish’ or ‘Feral Peril’: Tasmanian Atlantic Salmon and the Politics of Belonging,” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 23 (2005): 659–71. Lien also suggests that there is a broader cultural motivation for the fish-culture movement than that explained by conservation efforts.
71. For an overview of the scientific movement to control exotic introductions of terrestrial species in the United States, see Philip J. Pauly, “The Beauty and Menace of the Japanese Cherry Trees: Conflicting Visions of American Ecological Independence,” Isis 87 (1996): 51–73. It is not until the 1930s and 1940s, as fisheries sciences were becoming established on a local level and a new generation of hatchery superintendents trained in aquatic biology begin to arrive, that one finds a widespread concern for the ecological effects of introduced exotics. As an example see Ben Hur Lampman, The Coming of the Pond Fishes; An Account of the Introduction of Certain Spiny-rayed Fishes, and Other Exotic Species, into the Waters of the Lower Columbia River Region and the Pacific Coast States (Portland: Binford and Mort, 1946).
72. Proceedings of the Cincinnati Angling Club (from the Cincinnati Chronicle, October 23, 1830), 6–7; renowned oceanographer Sylvia Earle expressed her perplexity at modern manifestations of the terrestrial bias as “one of the great unsolved mysteries of the sea.” J. R. McNeill and others have noted its effects in the scholarship, or lack thereof, of the discipline of environmental history, as does Jeffrey W. Bolster, elsewhere in this issue. See Sylvia Earle, Sea Change: A Message of the Oceans (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons: New York, 1995), xvi; J. R. McNeill, “Observations on the Nature and Culture of Environmental History,” History and Theory 42 (2003): 42; and Jeffrey W. Bolster, “Opportunities in Marine Environmental History,” Environmental History 11 (July 2006): 567–597.
73. Charles S. Elton, The Ecology of Invasions by Animals and Plants (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958), 49.
74. Rohana P. Subasinghe, “An Outlook for Agriculture Development: Major Issues, Opportunities, and Challenges,” in “Review of the State of World Aquaculture,” ed. Z. Shehadeh and J. Maclean, FAO Fisheries Circular No. 886 FIRI/C886 (Rev.1) (Rome, 1997), 31–36. On the genetic alteration of salmon, see C. L. Hew, Journal of Fisheries Biology, Supplemental A 47 (1995):1–19; Griffe Witte, “Shining under Scrutiny,” Washington Post, March 13, 2004, A1; Zhong, et al. “Introduction of Human Lactoferrin Gene into Grass Carp (Ctenopharyngodon idellus) to Increase Resistance against aCCH Virus,” Aquaculture 214 (2002): 93–101, is exemplary of a larger body of transgenic science; see also “A Bush Bill Would Open Federal Waters to Aquaculture,” The New Farm (8 June 2005), http://www.newfarm.org/news/2005/0605/061005/aquaculture.shtml.
75. One example of increased international participation during the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was the French state’s study and implementation of an American model of scientific agriculture. For an overview of these developments, see Stéphane Castonguay, “The Transformation of Agricultural Research in France: The Introduction of the American System,” Minerva 43 (2005): 265–87; on plant and animal modifications, see Harriet Ritvo’s Animal Estate: The English and Other Creatures in the Victorian Age (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987); Deborah Fitzgerald, The Business of Breeding: Hybrid Corn in Illinois, 1890–1940 (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1990); and William Cronon, Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West (New York: W.W. Norton, 1991). Eugenics textbooks occasionally referred to fish culture techniques as illustrative of the ways in which human beings shape and improve other species from conception.
76. James C. Scott, Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998). Scholarship on “hybrid” ecosystems has focused mostly on the integration of natural ecosystems into urban environments. As an example, see Matthew Booker, “Real Estate and Refuge: An Environmental History of San Francisco Bay’s Tidal Wetlands, 1846–1972” (PhD diss., Stanford University, 2005). For more on hybrid aquatic ecosystems, see Richard White, The Organic Machine: The Making of the Columbia River (New York: Hill and Wang, 1995). An overview of the theme of exotic introductions can be found in the special issue of Landscape Research 28 (2003). More recently, a growing movement against marine aquaculture has emerged: Opponents in both North America and Europe are concerned that domesticated populations will escape to pollute wild gene pools. In addition, there is concern about the polluting effects of waste deposited by large populations of caged fish on marine habitats.
77. Helen Fields’s “Invasion of the Snakeheads,” Smithsonian Magazine (February, 2005): 62–70, questions media hype surrounding invasive species.
78. Crosby, Ecological Imperialism, 193–94.
By: DARIN KINSEY