History of Fisheries in the Northwest Atlantic: The 500-Year Perspective

W H Lear
1998 Journal of Northwest Atlantic Fishery Science  
Along with the discovery of the New World was the discovery of the fish resources of the Northwest Atlantic in the 1490s. The prolific cod populations of the Northwest Atlantic opened up enormous potential as a source of food for Europeans. The fishery, initially operated by fishermen from ports in western Europe, soon provided the basis for settlement of numerous coastal communities in the New World. The groundfish fisheries, solely for cod in the earlier centuries, were important for trade
more » ... ortant for trade and industrial development and the economic expansion between Europe and the Newfoundland coastal communities. The earlier fishery exploited cod almost exclusively, but later fisheries for other groundfish species, as well as for pelagic species developed. A synoptic overview is presented of the expansion of the groundfish fisheries in the latter part of the 19th Century and 20th Century to the present. The overview attempts to trace the history of fisheries exploitation in its various phases in the Northwest Atlantic from its earliest recorded European beginnings to the present situation. Although various fluctuations have been recorded, the most recent two decades have shown dramatic declines. Because of collapses in some cod stocks and significant declines in other groundfish stocks, moratoria were imposed on major groundfish fisheries in the early-1990s to facilitate stock rebuilding.
doi:10.2960/j.v23.a4 fatcat:s3jvfgy5a5hvrjk2fk3dy3qc2y