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Lifelines: Canada's East Coast Fisheries

The Cod Rush
The European Fishermen, 1497-1763
The Cod Rush: The European Fishermen, 1497-1763

From 1500 to 1800, the waters off Newfoundland teemed with cod, attracting over one hundred thousand ships and millions of European fishermen. The cod fishery generated huge profits that surpassed even those of the fur trade. It remained one of the main resources of eastern Canada's maritime regions until the 1992 moratorium.


The Cod Fishery - 
© Rouen, Musée des Beaux-Arts

This painting shows a small fishing vessel engaged in the green fishery on Newfoundland's Grand Bank. In 1754, a similar ship could catch on average 50 tons of cod over a period of six months using fishing lines. Today, a medium-sized trawler can take in 25 tons in a single haul!

The Cod Fishery (1754)
Detail of an oil painting
by A. Louis Garneray, 1832
Photo: Didier Tragin / Catherine Lancien
© Rouen, Musée des Beaux-Arts


The Cape Fortune - 
© Fisheries and Oceans Canada

On the eve of the 1992 moratorium on the cod fishery, a factory trawler with sophisticated equipment such as radar, sonar, and computers to manage its operations from the moment the fish were spotted to the moment they got to market, could locate, catch, process and refrigerate an entire school of fish in 24 hours.

The Cape Fortune, a Factory Trawler (1992)
© Fisheries and Oceans Canada


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