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date: 12 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Marine resources were, and continue to be, dietary mainstays of Pacific Island communities. In this article, archaeological fish-bone assemblages from twelve central-east Polynesian (CEP) islands are used to examine spatial and temporal patterning in indigenous marine fisheries in the first millennium ad. Settled by biologically and culturally closely related peoples from western Polynesia, CEP colonists encountered a familiar but biologically impoverished fish fauna. Common cultural and faunistic origins, in combination with ecologically diverse seascapes, make CEP an ideal setting for investigating long-term social-natural interactions. Most spatial variability appears linked to natural fish abundances, but a distinctive and geographically circumscribed colonizer strategy targeting pelagic fishes is also identified. Over time, fishing declines, inshore fisheries intensify and angling is reduced while mass harvesting increases. Harvesting impacts are sometimes intimated but generally not well demonstrated. The causes underlying these processes are considered, along with methodological improvements that would enhance regional comparisons.

Keywords: central east Polynesia, Pacific fisheries, archaeofish, pelagic fishing, resource depression, inshore fisheries, mass harvesting, methodological biases

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