Cod fishing was once the economic backbone of early America. This valuable fish supported a huge fishing industry in the Gulf of Maine, but overfishing has led to a steep decline in the cod population.

Good Day From the Bow Seat,

While sailing around Boothbay with author Colin Woodard, it was fascinating to learn how extraordinary the fisheries in the Gulf of Maine once were.

There was a time when sea captains reported catching cod as large as people and complained that the sheer numbers of cod slowed their ships or prevented them from moving at all! Colin helped us understand how depleted the stocks of cod and other fish are in the Gulf of Maine today when compared with those early times.

If you want to learn everything there is to know about cod, Mark Kurlansky’s book, Cod: The Biography of a Fish that Changed the World, is a must read.



Outstripping resources

Drying cod allowed the fish to be preserved for up to two years, allowing a valuable source of protien to be stored in the days before refrigeration.
courtesy of NOAA

Vast quantities of fish were split and gutted, then dried along the shore or on wooden frames, creating an international trade market.
courtesy of NOAA