Science symposia

Johan Hjort symposium 2019

Challenging the scientific legacy of Johan Hjort: time for a new paradigm in marine research?

12–14 June 2019
Bergen, Norway

​​​​Conveners: Olav Sigurd Kjesbu (IMR, Bergen), Vera Schwach (NIFU, Oslo), Jennifer Hubbard (Ryerson University, Toronto) and Iain Suthers (UNSW, Sydney)

Publication plan

Contributions will be published in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Deadlines (tentative): abstract and early registration 15 February 2019; final registration 15 May 2019

In 2019 we celebrate the 150-year anniversary of Johan Hjort (1869–1948), who introduced the fundamental theory for current fisheries science with his concepts of the roles played by strong and weak year classes in population structure and productivity. Since then a wide range of new methods and approaches have emerged to refine Hjort's theory, but today's knowledge of factors regulating stock dynamics, e.g. recruitment and migration dynamics, is still vague and thereby makes stock projections often highly uncertain. Moreover, the urge to broaden the standard routines in stock management to embrace today's holistic views, including ecosystem approaches to fisheries and on-going changes in the marine environment, implies an interdisciplinary co-operation. In order to move forward, the current situation asks for a profound insight in the past and present stage, and a dedicated search for new ideas and scientific framework.

To investigate the history, the present and to explore new directions in a free and creative atmosphere – in the spirit of Hjort – we invite marine researchers and historians of marine science to gather in this Bergen symposium, at the place where Hjort launched his paradigm-changing publication in 1914. 

We argue that by integrating data, information and perspectives, from a range of scientific fields, we will be able to reach a more advanced understanding of marine life as well as the practice of marine science in the past and present. Challenging the scientific legacy of Johan Hjort will be a truly interdisciplinary event, and bring historians together with marine and fisheries scientists.

The majority of the sessions will be set up as plenary sessions, and contain contributions from different bodies of knowledge.

  • Opening session: “Johan Hjort (1914): a Classic to Honour and Challenge". This session will introduce the aims and ambitions for this symposium, but also to remember, examine and challenge the classics in marine research, with a particular focus on Hjort 1914.

Keynote speaker: Professor Ray Hilborn, University of Washington, Seattle, USA: (Preliminary title) The broad horizon: Challenges in today's population dynamics and fisheries management seen in a historical perspective.

  • Scientific legacy, theories and study species

In this session we aim to explore theories, traditions and long trends in fisheries investigations. Any fish stock in the world could be addressed. We have selected four commercially important categories of stocks to exemplify current and long trends in fisheries research and advice to be presented as keynotes by outstanding fisheries/marine scientists. Each keynote will be followed by complementary presentations (oral and poster), but within flexible frames to create stimulating and, perhaps controversial, discussions. Hence, this session will cover issues like advancement in knowledge regarding vital rates (natural mortality, growth, recruitment), resulting intra- and interspecific stock dynamics, and how to implement environmental stressors in the new era of climate change. Synthesis work rather than studies on specific, detailed topics will be given priority, especially those addressing progress in science and “what now"-issues.   

Keynote speaker: Professor Gudrun Marteinsdottir, University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland: (Preliminary title): Cod fisheries research in a long-term perspective

Keynote speakerSenior Research Scientist, Karen Evans, CSIRO, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia: (Preliminary title): Tuna fisheries research in a long-term perspective

Keynote speaker: Director/Research Scientist, Robert L. Stephenson, DFO, St Andrews Biological Station, Canada: (Preliminary title): herring fisheries research in a long-term perspective

Keynote speaker: Science Leader/Principal Scientist Timothy M. Ward, SARDI, Henley Beach, Adelaide, Australia. (Preliminary title). “Small pelagics" research in a long-term perspective

Keynote speaker: Prinicipal Scientist Svein Sundby, IMR, Bergen. “Hjort (1914) vs. Helland-Hansen and Nansen (1909) – cold case reopened 100 years later

  • On the shoulders of the giants of marine science

When should fisheries science revisit the past, and where should it search for new answers? This session examines and challenges the intellectual heritage and suggest ways forward. We want paper which search for a deeper insight in the present stage of scientific basis, and encourage search for new ideas and scientific framework.

Key note speaker: Killam Memorial Chair/Professor Jeffrey A. Hutchings, Dalhousie University, Canada

  • The making of fisheries scientists

In session we turn our attention to the individual fisheries scientists of today. The session explores how their cultural and disciplinary backgrounds shaped their decisions to go into this research field. Which factors influenced their choice of career and topics; how did the personal ambitions and creativity impact fisheries science? Did “role models" play a part?

Chair and moderator: Associate Professor Jennifer Hubbard, Department of History, Ryerson University, Canada

  • Science and management, an uneasy pair?

This session examines how science has influenced/influence fisheries management decisions and fisheries policy, and vice versa, the ways fisheries policy and management have shaped/shape fisheries/marine science. We welcome presentations (and papers) of marine scientists as well as managers emphasizing the value of past and on-going fisheries research in their daily operational decisions.    

Key note speaker: Researcher Dorothy Jane Dankel, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway  

  • When historians meet marine scientists

This is a special dialogue between historians and (four) invited marine scientists. The goal is to investigate the past, present and to explore potential new directions. We plan to send out questions in forehand. The session may open up to questions and comments from the public.

Chair and moderator: Associate Professor Helen Rozwadowski, University of Connecticut, Groton, USA

  • Johan Hjort and the Bergen he saw

This is a photo exhibition of sites of importance to Johan Hjort's life and work during his years in Bergen. Vera Schwach will give an introduction to Hjort's biography and time in Bergen, possible in cooperation with a curator from Bergen's museum. We plan to use photos from the exhibition in the publication, and we will supply the exhibition by a marine scientific walk: “Across Bergen, in the footsteps of Johan Hjort"

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​​Bergen, at Johan Hjort’s time. Hand coloured photo of the city, as viewed from Fløien around 1903.​​

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Johan Hjort symposium 2019

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