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A research unit grows into an Institute - 100 years of fisheries research in Hamburg

Wegner, G.
Journal of applied ichthyology 2010 v.26 no.s1 pp. 3-13
agricultural resources, cities, consumer protection, estuaries, fisheries, foods, forestry, herring, natural history, planning, politics, research institutions, rivers, scientists, sisters, summer, trade, German Federal Republic
The city of Hamburg is surrounded by tidal influenced rivers with formerly rich fish populations. Thus fisheries and Hamburg belonged together ever since the days of first settlement in the 9th century. Since Hanseatic times, fish trade - predominantly of salted herring - was a continuous and profitable commerce in Hamburg. Significant changes in fish stock productivity and fisheries in the Elbe river estuary and the German Bight occurred around 1900 and influenced the fish trade in Hamburg. As a consequence, a Research Unit of Fisheries Biology was established on April 1st, 1910 at the Museum of Natural History to enlighten these changes by directed research. The research unit soon established close cooperation with other German marine research institutions, mostly in the framework of projects of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea in Copenhagen. Due to the great success the research unit's rank was upgraded to an Institute of Sea and Coastal Fisheries Hamburg when the Reich-Institution of Fisheries in Berlin was founded in 1938. During World War II, the institute's infrastructure was largely destroyed. Its small remainders together with three other fishery institutes of the former Reich-Institution continued their work in Hamburg since summer 1945 under British control. After establishment of the Federal Republic of Germany the Institute of Sea Fisheries and its three sister institutes were transferred into the later Federal Research Institution of Fisheries in Hamburg. During the next 60 years, the institute had to modify its main tasks and inner structure depending on national und international fisheries research requirements related to politics and the Law of the Sea. Today, the Institute is part of the Johann Heinrich von Thünen-Institut (vTI) which was created in 2008 by merging the federal research agencies of the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection dealing with the utilisation of natural resources from agriculture and forestry to fisheries. Several notes on the historic development of the Institute were published, e.g. Sahrhage (1985) on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Institute. Now, a 100 years after establishing the main origin of the nowadays institute, the planning for moving two vTI fisheries institutes from Hamburg to Bremerhaven has started. Here, I provide some background for founding and developing the Institute, about past and present research foci and concepts, as well as the scientists behind them. Lastly, some attention is paid to the various housings and its administrative assignments of the research unit and the succeeding Institute of Sea Fisheries.