IRES present at the Book and Library Fair in Gothenburg


Ingvar Svanberg presented his recent book on the use of fish throughout history in the Baltic Sea area and talked about the importance and applicability of ethnobiological historical research in today’s world at the annual Book and Library Fair in Gothenburg.  

Ingvar Svanberg

On Sunday October 1 our colleague Ingvar Svanberg together with publisher Sabira Ståhlberg from the international publishing house Lecti Book Studio lead a discussion about ethnobiological research at the Book and Library Fair in Gothenburg. In particular, the discussion was focused on human use of fish throughout history and until present day in the Baltic Sea area. Ingvar opened the talk by presenting his recently published book Historical Aquaculture in Northern Europe, co-authored with the colleagues in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Poland and England. The book is based on the recently completed research project on the cultivation of crucian carp and carp in the Nordic countries, Baltic Sea area and Poland, from the Middle Ages and until today. Especially in the southern Baltic area there was already extensive production of pond fish in the late Middle Ages. For instance, in the year 1402, 29,000 carps were consumed by the residents of Memelburg (Klaipėda in the current Lithuania) that belonged to the German Order. Monastic ponds existed at the same time in Alvastra, Vadstena, Varnhem, Gudhem, Falckenau (Kärknä), Padise, Kuimetsa and Dünamünde (Daugavgrīva). Later, fish ponds became common on the farms, vicarages and even in towns (Svandammen, Zinkensdamm!). Ingvar emphasized the historical importance of fish farming in the Baltic countries as well as Poland, but also the role cultivated carp and crucian carp still plays in Lithuania, Poland and Belarus. The conversation slipped into the economic importance of inshore fishing and on how ethnobiological historical knowledge can be used for practical purposes today. The importance of smelt was particularly emphasized in Värmland, Russia, some places in Finland, Estonia and Lithuania. In Saint Petersburg, one can feel its distinct flavour of cucumber on the streets in March-April when the newly caught smelt fish is sold as “street food” all over the city. In northern Germany it is served in spring in many restaurants. It is a currently underused resource with a lot of future potential. Today, for example, Finland exports its catch to Russia, but it has potential as a future source of protein and industrial fish. No less than 70-80% of the biomass in lakes Vänern and Mälaren consists of smelt. Currently, Ingvar is conducting research on smelt's importance in the Baltic Sea area.

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