Set against the backdrop of ongoing geopolitical conflict of the twentieth century, the history of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) illustrates the complexity of forging international collaboration to tackle environmental resource issues and pursue scientific knowledge. Originally brought together to address the problem of overfishing in the North Atlantic, ICES founders envisioned an international scientific collaboration that would achieve knowledge impossible from investigations by a single nation. In describing the successes and failures of the scientific and management approaches that ICES pursued, Helen Rozwadowski has used the organization as a lens to reveal the ways in which humans have changed the marine environment over the last century, and especially the ways in which they have sought to control and modify those changes.
ICES is the world's oldest international marine scientific organization. Formed in 1902 by eight northern European nations, it now has nineteen member nations from both Europe and North America and has evolved from a "gentlemen's agreement" renewed through diplomatic channels into a modern intergovernmental organization. From the start, ICES scientists embraced the idea that their work could solve practical fisheries problems, and ICES is one of the few scientific forums in which virtually all areas of marine science are represented. The Sea Knows No Boundaries contains vivid portraits of many key figures in ICES history, including Fridtjof Nansen, a Norwegian marine scientist who went on to lead famous polar explorations; the autocratic British Fisheries Secretary Henry Maurice; the Icelandic educator Arni Fridriksson, who hired and trained a generation of scientists; and the renowned Norwegian oceanographer, Harald Sverdrup, who brought European oceanography to the United States.
Commissioned for the organization's centenary, the book is the result of an exhaustive review of organizational archives and interviews with many of its present and past participants. Rozwadowski's history of ICES provides unique insight into the relationship between fisheries science and biological oceanography.