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Cod Fishing


Cod Fishing in Canada Begins at Newfoundland
By Miodrag Trajkovic

cod fishingUp in the north of Canada thrives a little community. It's not about the people; it's all about the cod fish.

When It All Started

Cod fishing in Canada, particularly in Newfoundland, started when the region was discovered before the end of the fifteenth century. Since then, all cultures from French, Portuguese, English, and Spanish came to its waters in order to search for cod. Hook and line was the manner of fishing, with herring, capelin, sea birds, and squid used as bait.

The Process of Cod Fishing

The people of Newfoundland were more into inshore fishing. They fish close to the shore using little boats with depths below 35 feet. They were also engaged in salting and drying codfish, their main methods of food preservation.

Male members of the family, consisting of the husbands, older sons, brothers, and fathers, would usually hunt for the fish while the female members such as the mothers, wives, daughters and sisters remained on shore. The younger boys were allowed to stay with the female group.

Once the males arrived at the shore, the women would then busy themselves splitting and salting the fish. Once this was done, they would begin the process of curing. The salted fish were gathered and spread onto racks and wooden fish flakes. They were left to dry under the heat of the sun. Taking care of the fish was the responsibility of the women, who would take turns guarding them during the night and on rainy days.

The Moratorium

During the early part of the 1990s, the cod, which roamed around the waters of Newfoundland for many years, suddenly disappeared because of years of excessive fishing. To solve the problem, the Canadian government issued a moratorium in 1992. Fishing communities in Newfoundland were deeply devastated with the closure. It hit the women the most. Before the release of the moratorium, there were about 15,000 of them who worked as plant workers as well as fishers in a number of fisheries. Others who worked in businesses related to the fishing industry also lost their jobs. An estimated 10,000 women were qualified for government compensation, but this also ended in 1998. Ever since the end of cod fishing, fisheries employed only a small group of people for shrimp and crab fishing. Processing jobs and competition for licenses was very intense.

Nobody can actually predict the future of cod fishing in Canada, and no one can anticipate if it will ever return. One thing is for sure, however. Cod fishing added to the pages of a colorful history of Canada.

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