The fisheries have had a profound influence on the development of human societies in the North Atlantic region. Assuming countless forms over the ages, fishing activity has ranged across the vast expanse of an ocean that comprises a myriad of complex, dynamic and fragile ecosystems. In these diverse waters, an array of species has sustained the subsistence fishing of indigenous populations, the labour-intensive fisheries of medieval and early modern societies, and the highly capitalised industries of the contemporary world.
Amidst this diversity, several common themes can be discerned. The fisheries have contributed significantly to human dietary requirements, generated income for those engaged in the catching, processing and marketing of fish products, and encouraged fishers – and their techniques, beliefs and cultures – to migrate to new lands in search of better catches and markets.
Written by experts in the field, this book explores such themes to provide a pioneering region-wide appraisal of the scale, character and significance of the North Atlantic fisheries down to the mid-nineteenth century.