The 2019 North Atlantic Fisheries History conference

Re-visiting Fisheries History – Re-visiting Iceland – The North Atlantic Fisheries History Association (NAFHA) has returned to Iceland

The 2019 North Atlantic Fisheries History conference organized by the North Atlantic Fisheries History Association (NAFHA) took place Oct 17,18, 2019 in Reykjavik, Iceland. Co-organized by Guðmundur Jonsson, University of Iceland, and Ingo Heidbrink, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA, it was a successful return to the country where the work of the North Atlantic Fisheries History Association (NAFHA) has begun. The topic of the conference‚ ‘Re-Visiting Fisheries History – Re-visiting Iceland’ was mainly chosen to stimulate discussion about recent historiography and more importantly contemporary fisheries history – or in other words, what has happened after the Cod-Wars.

The 15 papers presented by colleagues from seven nations around the North Atlantic clearly demonstrated that there is fisheries history beyond the Cod Wars and that the dramatic effects of the changes within the international distant water fisheries on the fisheries, technology, port cities, nation states, economies, societies, identities, etc. provide rich and plentiful topics for historical research of major societal relevance. One of those fisheries historians and a participant of a number of previous NAFHA conferences, who is well recognized for his research contributions in this field, opened the conference with his keynote paper, ‘The Cod Wars are not over. The use and abuse of the past in present debates’. Unfortunately, shortly after being promoted to Professor at the University of Iceland, Guðni Th. Jóhannesson got elected President of Iceland and consequently ‘needed to take a sabbatical from academia’. But fortunately it seems that this sabbatical still provides some room for fisheries history which became obvious during the reception at Bessastaðir, the official residence of the Icelandic President (or the Icelandic White House).

Ingo Heidbrink