Research articles

180 years of marine animal diversity as perceived by public media in southern Brazil


Commoditization of marine resources has dramatically increased anthropogenic footprints on coastal and ocean systems, but the scale of these impacts remain unclear due to a pervasive lack of historical baselines. Through the analysis of historical newspapers, this paper explores changes in marine animals (vertebrates and invertebrates) targeted by historical fisheries in southern Brazil since the late 19th century. The investigation of historical newspaper archives revealed unprecedented information on catch composition, and perceived social and economic importance of key species over decades, predating official national-level landing records. We show that several economically and culturally important species have been under persistent fishing pressure at least since the first national-scale subsidies were introduced for commercial fisheries in Brazil in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Our work expands the current knowledge on historical fish catch compositions in the southwestern Atlantic Ocean, while advocating for the integration of historical data in ocean sustainability initiatives.