Captain George Moskovita and the R/V John N. Cobb

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The Moskovita family has been kind enough to forward a package of pictures, newspapers clippings, and a couple of reports to us. We will be forwarding the material, especially the pictures, to the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria. But first we wanted to take a look at what George has saved.

His copy of the 1964 cruises of the John N. Cobb looks like it had spent at least some time on at least one of Moskovita’s boats. Moskovita was one of the early pioneers of trawling on the West Coast. In those days, fishermen had Lorans to tell them where they were on the water, but knowing when and where to set the net was considered an art and often a closely held secret, the fisherman’s little black book, as Bob Hitz had told us.

2016-08-12_1436One of the Cobb’s tasks, as part of the Exploratory Gear Group in Seattle, was to fish and record where fish were caught, then to make the information available to the fleet. The Cobb fished systematically, across a grid, recording what came up in its nets.

It is likely that Bob was on the cruises that make up the data for this small publication. The cruise data inside looks like a foreign language, and all but fishermen and scientists at the time, it was. We went through the book, hoping George had made some notes, or perhaps indicated where he might have set his nets and found fish.

It’s likely that the grid pattern turned up a lot of rockfish, especially S.2016-08-12_1436_001 alutus, in the waters along the West Coast. It was the dominant rockfish species in the area, and the fish were plentiful until 1966, when the Soviet fleet arrived and fished the stocks heavily, leading to a collapse. The projected recovery of rockfish off Oregon and Washington is about 2050.

History is about connections, and about uncovering relationships. It’s likely that George was excited to get the information contained in this document and that he might even have set his own fishing trips around some of the results. The report is another link in the ways that scientists and fishermen interacted, at a time when there was enormous excitement about the potential of discovering fish resources off the West Coast.

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About finleyc

I'm a writer and a historian of science. I'm interested in the intersection of science and policy in the oceans, and especially around fishing.
This entry was posted in Carmel Finley, Environmental History, Exploratory Fishing Base, fisheries science, Fishing, George Moskovita, History of Science, History of Technology, Maritime History, Ocean fishing, Pacific Fishing History Project, R/V John N. Cobb, Sebastes rockfish and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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