The theme of the Woods Hole workshop, “On the History of Marine Fisheries,” was selected in light of the results of an earlier meeting in Monterey (see synopsis by Bradley, this volume), where participants had proposed that a Census of Marine Life be pursued as an iterative process of modeling and observation. The Monterey proposal included a pilot observational phase that would concentrate on filling in large gaps in existing ecosystem models, particularly at the upper trophic levels. Building on these ideas, organizers of the Woods Hole workshop asked their participants to address two main questions:
- What do modeling and observational studies tell us about the state of marine fisheries prior to, and in the early stages of, exploitation?
- What further studies should be undertaken to improve the state of knowledge in this area?