Poul Holm

senior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2013/2014
discipline History
Trinity Long Room Hub Professor of Humanities Trinity College Dublin

Research project

Deep Harvests. An Environmental History of the Oceans


Humans are driven not by what we eat but by what we want to eat, and fisheries have driven us far and wide.

Fishing played a central role in the voyages of discovery and in the spreading of humans throughout the globe. Perceptions and fashions are fundamental to understanding fishing matters. Those sentiments are what drove the Los Roques Indians to venture the Caribbean, it cannot escape anyone’s attention when you look at the imagery of Crete in the Mycenean age, and it is perhaps more apparent today with our focus on healthy seafood, sea air, diving and cruising. Fishing is by no means a unilinear, unstoppable sail towards emptying the oceans. But it is an environmental history full of conflict and choice.

I shall argue that the questions if, how and when to fish have been answered very differently through history. In some cultures, fish and othermarine products were considered essential while other societies literally

turned their backs to the sea. Ocean life was impacted by human activities long before modern trawling. Similarly, a preference for fish asfood shaped coastal  settlements, shipping and technology. Moreover, knowledge and understanding of oceans past may help us not only understand but even manage the current crisis in the oceans.

The book planned is divided in seven chapters, the first four deal with what and how much we have extracted from the sea and the ecological consequences of extraction and depletion; the fifth focuses on the factors that drive the fisheries, economically, socially, politically and culturally, and the last two on fisheries management and how the fisheries impact on human societies, in the past and with a look to the future.



Poul Holm is Trinity Long Room Hub Professor of Humanities at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, and Director of the Irish Digital Arts and Humanities Structured PhD Programme. He is President of the European Consortium of Humanities Institutes and Centres. In the past he has been Academic Director of the Trinity Long Room Hub, Rector (President) of the University of Roskilde, and Professor of Maritime History at the University of Southern Denmark. He holds a Dr. Phil. in History from the Aarhus University, Denmark.


His main research interests are Marine and coastal environmental history, all periods; Early medieval (Viking) Scandinavia and Ireland.

Selected publications


‘Commercial Sea Fisheries in the Baltic Region, c1000-1600’, in J. H. Barrett (ed.), Cod and Herring: The Chronology, Causes and Consequences of Medieval Sea Fishing ,Oxbow, Oxford, 2014.


‘Manning and Paying the Hiberno-Norse Dublin Fleet’, in E. Purcell, P. MacCotter, J. Nyhan & J. Sheehan (eds), Clerics, kings and Vikings: essays on medieval Ireland in honour of Donnchadh Ó Corráin, Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2014.


'World War II and the 'Great Acceleration' of North Atlantic fisheries', Global Environment, vol. 10, 2013, p. 66 - 91.


‘Collaboration between the Natural, Social and Human Sciences in Global Change Studies’, with M. Goodsite, S. Cloetingh, B. Vanheusden, K. Yusoff, M. Agnoletti, M. Bedřich, D. Lang, R. Leemans, J. Oerstroem Moeller, M. Pardo Buendia, W. Pohl, A. Sors & R. Zondervan, Environmental Science and Policy, 2012, pp. 25-35.


‘Marine Animal Populations: A New Look Back’ in Time’, in A. D. McIntyre (ed.), Life in the World's Oceans: Diversity, Distribution, and Abundance, Blackwell, Oxford, 2010, pp. 3 – 23.


‘Oceans and seas’, in W.H. McNeill & al. (eds), Berkshire Encyclopedia of World History, 2nd edition, Berkshire Publishing Group, 2010, pp. 1860 – 1866.


junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2017/2018
Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (SCAS)
discipline Philosophy
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2011/2012
Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (SCAS)
discipline History
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2012/2013
Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (SCAS)
discipline Literature
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2016/2017
Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (SCAS)
discipline History