Founding Fish: 17th Century Cod Fishing

July 1 2021 7pm to 8pm

Mike Dekker, Author and Historian

Fishing has been a mainstay of the region’s economy since the arrival of Europeans in the early 17th century. Originally plying the waters of the Gulf of Maine on a seasonal basis, English fishing crews established permanent, year-round fishing stations from the Isle of Shoals to Monhegan by the mid 1620’s. Exports of dried, salted cod to Europe, Africa, South America and the Caribbean ranked as one of the primary economic engines of the New England economy throughout the colonial period.  The finest fish went to the ports of Catholic Europe where dried salted fish became the food of the masses. Along the west coast of Africa fish was used as currency in the slave trade, while in Brazil and the sugar islands of the Caribbean, low grade fish unsuitable for markets elsewhere were purchased to feed burgeoning slave populations.  The Atlantic fishery was of such economic importance it often figured heavily in considerations of war, peace and diplomacy.  Despite the cod fishery’s seemingly endless bounty, today it stands on the brink of collapse due to a host of human and environmental factors. 

Mike Dekker

Growing up and residing in Mid Coast Maine, Mike Dekker has developed a life-long passion for the region’s past. An avid student of early American history and material culture, he presents educational programs for historical societies, museums, historic sites, schools and the public. Mike is the author of the book The French and Indian Wars In Maine, which uncovers the tragic and largely forgotten story of the six wars which ravaged Maine between 1675 and 1760. In 2017 Mike participated in an international conference hosted by the Maine Ulster Scots Project and the Ulster-Scots Agency dedicated to the history and culture of the Scots-Irish. The paper Mike presented at the conference, Resistance and Reprisal: The Scots-Irish of Mid-Coast Maine During the French and Indian War has been published in the book 1718-2018 Reflections on 300 Years of the Scots Irish in Maine

The lecture is available either in-person or by zoom

Bath Freight Shed
27 Commercial St
Bath Maine 04530

Dried cod with fishing tools
Processing cod for transport