Cod & The Fisheries
There is no stronger definition, no stronger attachment or symbolism, than Newfoundland and Labrador with Atlantic cod.
Cod holds a mythic place in Newfoundland culture. The following excerpt from George Rose’s book Cod, The Ecological History or the North Atlantic Fisheries says it best:
“There are places and species that have become inextricably linked in human history and in the human mind have taken on mythic proportions. This is not to say that these same species occur nowhere else, or that they are the most abundant or important, although they may be. But somehow the animal comes to symbolize and define the place. In this way, the wildebeest symbolizes the Serengeti Plains of Tanzania, the polar bear the Arctic, finches the Galapagos Islands, the panda China, and wild salmon the northern regions of the Pacific Ocean. But there is no stronger definition, no stronger attachment or symbolism, than Newfoundland and Labrador with Atlantic cod.”
For centuries, too many have viewed the oceans as providing vast, endless supplies of resources. In recent decades it has been recognised that the oceans’ resources are not infinite; the dramatic decline in commercial cod stocks attest to that. Decades of international factory overfishing brought the cod to the brink of ecological extinction and led to the declaration of a moratorium on cod fishing in 1992. The moratorium brought drastic changes to Fogo Island’s fishery, which has since adapted to fishing for different species, including crab, shrimp, and turbot. The good news? The cod are making a promising come back and human beings have been given the chance to start over in our relationship with this mighty fish. The challenge remains to forge a more holistic balance between the business of fish, human need, and the health of our oceans and ocean species.