Friday, 25 July 2014

Fogo Part 3: The Fishery

2013_NL_F14_0436This post, the third in my series on Fogo Island, looks at the goings-on related to fishing.

The history of Newfoundland is tied to fish, specifically codfish. So such so that in Newfoundland, if you say "fish" you mean cod. If you mean to refer to some other species of fish, you have to name it. So you would say "I'm going fishing for salmon", but if you were going for cod, you would just say "I'm going fishing."

Fish were extremely plentiful back in the day, and small fishing communities popped up everywhere. All that was needed was somewhere to shelter the boats.

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Houses were built as close to the water as possible.

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It didn't matter if there was only rock to build on.

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People still build on rock, but they sometimes truck in a bit of soil to grow some grass.

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You can imagine that if people's houses are this close to the water, then the working buildings must be even closer. And you would be right - the stages and sheds associated with the fishery were usually built right on the water.

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While building so close to the water means a very short commute to work, it also means that everything is subject to the pounding of the North Atlantic. I can imagine the sort of waves I would see if I were to stand here during the winter. I am surprised that the buildings actually last any length of time!

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With the collapse of the cod fishery, the economy of much of rural Newfoundland was devastated and there are many signs of the collapse today. All along the shores of Newfoundland, there are small boats settling in to their final resting places, the wood well into the process of returning to the soil.

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In many places, grass is growing unchecked and is attempting to consume man-made artifacts.

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Many fields are untended, and the grasses are growing up to the height of the fence.

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Many of the fences are in poor repair and are collapsing.

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Grave sites are sinking into the ground.

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Many buildings are long abandoned. Oddly, I could easily imagine hearing the laughter of children playing....

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Even in the face of adversity, Newfoundlanders do not lose their sense of humour.

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Like many Newfoundland communities, Fogo has a museum about the fishery. I'm quite bored with these museums, as I find they are all the same. They all seem to have the same exhibits about cod jiggers, nets, stages, and flakes. This one in Fogo, however, had something I had not seen before: pookes.

According to this exhibit, pooks were used to cover cod drying on the flakes when bad weather came in. It was easier to cover them up, then uncover them when the weather was fine again, than it was to pick them all up and then lay them out again.

Growing up, I used the term "pook" to describe something puffed out, such as a shirt. As in "Bonnie, your shirt's all pooked out there on the back." I never knew the origin of the term, but now I could see how the noun transformed into something else, making the visit to this particular museum worthwhile!

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After 20 years of a fishing moratorium, the cod seems to slowly be coming back, and I saw signs of a renewed interest in the fishery, if only the "food" fishery.

There were well-kept boats on shore.

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There were boats in the water.

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There were boats tied up to the wharf.

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There were boats in the water going places.

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There were several punts out on the water as well, as part of the Great Fogo Island Punt race.

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The best indication that fishing traditions are reviving is seeing fishermen cleaning their catch down at the water.

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The cleaning station the boys were using made for a great sunset image, which is what I will use to bring this post to a close.

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As with all of my blog posts, if you want to see any photo in more detail, just click on it and you will be magically transported to my Flickr site and the image will automatically load for you.



Here are the links to all the posts in the Fogo Island series:

Fogo Part 1: Getting There
Fogo Part 2: Walking Around
Fogo Part 3: The Fishery
Fogo Part 4: The Fogo Island Inn


Here is a list of links to all of the blog posts from my 2013 tour around Newfoundland:

Cuckolds Cove to Carbonear
Signal Hill
Boat Tour!
Bird Watching!
Whale Watching!
Twillingate Part 1: Getting There
Twillingate Part 2: Wine, Music, and Whine
Twillingate Part 3: An Iceberg and a Lighthouse


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I recently selected my best photographs of Newfoundland and Labrador and hand-made them as fine art prints, which I sell from my website here.



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