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A Fishery for Modern Times

A Fishery for Modern Times: Industrialization of the Newfoundland Fishery, 1934-1968

Miriam Wright
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 196
  • Book Info
    A Fishery for Modern Times
    Book Description:

    A Fishery for Modern Timesexamines the ways in which the state, ideologies of development, and political, economic, and social factors, along with political actors and fishing company owners, contributed to the expansion of the industrial fishery from the 1930s through the 1960s.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-2364-4
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-9)

    The collapse of the northern cod stocks off the coast of Newfound-land in the early 1990s was not only a major ecological disaster, but has also been devastating for the province’s economy and society. In 1992, after several years of particularly poor landings, government fisheries scientists announced that the fish population was too small to withstand another season of fishing. In early July, the federal government declared a moratorium on commercial cod fishing on the east coast of Newfoundland, on the Grand Banks, and off the coast of Labrador. The following year it closed the cod fishery on the south...


    • 2 Beginnings in a Dying Colonial Regime
      (pp. 10-36)

      In Newfoundland, the 1930s and 1940s were a period of significant political, economic, and social change—change that occurred on several levels. Economically, the 1930s began with a crisis in the saltfish trade, caused largely by the Great Depression and the downward spiral of prices for food commodities on the world markets. During World War II, however, the emergence of new technologies and market opportunities helped encourage the rise of a new, frozen-fish sector. Unlike the saltfish trade, the new sector had an industrial organization, with its offshore fishing trawlers and centralized processing plants. These structural changes had implications for...


    • 3 Visions of Development in the Canadian Context
      (pp. 37-64)

      After the clock struck midnight on 31 March 1949, Newfoundland quietly slipped into Confederation, an anti-climactic event after the tumult and rancour of the political debates that preceded it. As part of the Terms of Union, responsibility for Newfoundland’s sea fisheries moved to Ottawa from St John’s. Under the British North America Act, the federal government had jurisdiction for regulating and conserving Canada’s ocean fisheries. This role was administrative only; the state did not claim public ownership of the resource the way it had with minerals. The provinces retained control over processing and labour in the fishery.

      The events of...

    • 4 Federal-Provincial Conflict, Co-operation, and Compromise
      (pp. 65-80)

      The industrial vision of development that first emerged in the 1940s dominated fisheries planning at both federal and provincial levels in the 1950s. Alternative visions espoused by W.J. Keough and others received little attention from Premier Smallwood and federal officials. Despite the hegemony of the industrial vision, however, the path from ideology to state practice was not straightforward. As Stuart Hall observed about the way various Western states have evolved to support the economic system: ‘the process happens, in different social formations, at a different pace: by significantly different routes: with more or less degrees of completeness: and with strikingly...

    • 5 Smallwood and the Frozen-Fish Companies
      (pp. 81-103)

      Unlike the federal civil servants and politicians, Premier Smallwood had no reservations about establishing a direct connection between private enterprise and the state. Indeed, the Commission of Government had already set a precedent, having extended the first loans to fishing companies in the 1940s. As well, Smallwood, new to institutional politics, had no investment in the ‘small-L’ liberal ideal of the separation between the economy and the state. In the absence of support from the federal Department of Fisheries, Smallwood turned to private enterprise to fulfil his promises of a new industrial economy for Newfoundland. Between 1949 and 1 December...


    • 6 Facing the ‘City of Trawlers’ in Newfoundland
      (pp. 104-125)

      The people of Newfoundland were used to sharing the rich cod resources off the coast with fishers from across the Atlantic Ocean. For centuries, fishers from Spain, Portugal, and France had been fishing off the Newfoundland coast. In the 1950s, however, they began replacing their wooden ships with steel-hulled otter trawlers and factory-freezer trawlers, which allowed crews to process fish on board. Every year brought more trawlers from an ever-increasing number of countries. Soon, the vessels regularly catching fish off the coast of Newfoundland, Labrador, and in the Gulf of St Lawrence numbered in the hundreds. In the days of...

    • 7 Federal Response to a Changing Fishery
      (pp. 126-149)

      In the 1960s, the federal government responded in two ways to the growing problems in the Newfoundland fishery: by searching for an international solution to the intensification of European offshore fishing, specifically a 12-mile fishing limit; and by providing direct funding for new technologies, education, and community centralization. In particular, the federal government committed itself to providing loans to private firms to build more fish plants and acquire offshore fleets. Indeed, the federal government finally seemed willing to take a more direct role in implementing the industrial vision of development.

      Why, after a decade of telling Newfoundland that Ottawa should...

  8. 8 Conclusion
    (pp. 150-157)

    We might imagine how John Hope Simpson, P.D.H. Dunn, and Stewart Bates would have viewed the result of 25 years of industrial development in the Newfoundland fishery.¹ By the late 1960s, the fishery was still changing, partially transformed into the modern economy and society they had envisioned decades earlier. Frozen fish, not salted fish, generated the most revenues. Newfoundland fish was more likely to be found in the frozen-food section of a shopping mall grocery store in Utah than stacked in wooden barrels in the open-air markets of Lisbon or Barcelona. Although most fishing people continued to fish from small,...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 158-188)
  10. Index
    (pp. 189-196)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 197-198)