Development of Fishing Industry

Prehistoric people were hunters and food collectors, and they found much of their food in lakes, rivers, and shallow coastal ocean waters. Shellfish were the most accessible food , and the large shell heaps found around the first fishing technique, the use of bare hands.

During 10,000-6000 BC, certain cultures that depended almost entirely on a diet of fish developed primitive fishing technologies. The Scandinavian Maglemosian culture used stone-pointed fishing spears, antler and bone harpoons and fishhooks, and lines and nets woven of bark fiber. Improved equipment increased the size of catches, and preservation techniques were developed for drying, smoking, salting, and pickling fish. As larger boats were built, fishing craft adventured farther into the oceans, and sea fishing developed into a well- defined business, with settlements whose main occupation was catching fish.

Early ocean fisheries were confined to the coastal regions of settled areas and to the Mediterranean Sea, which had been the traditional fishing grounds for large numbers of fish species, especially tuna. Slowly, the rich fishing regions of the Atlantic Ocean and the North and Baltic seas began to be exploited. The opening of these new fishing grounds had a significant influence on the spread of trade during the Middle Ages and on the establishment of new trade routes – for example, the herring fisheries in the southern Baltic and North seas that helped to establish the HANSEATIC LEAGUE.

The opening of the fishing areas around Nova Scotia and Newfoundland had a serious effect on European history. First fished by the French in the early 1500s, by the beginning of the 17th century the North Atlantic fisheries had become the main source of New World wealth for England.