People have fished for thousands of years but the history of fishing is really not well documented. There are an increasing number of books about individual fish, from salmon to tuna to Atlantic cod, but there are not many projects that try to look at how fisheries developed and interacted.
This is a pilot project of the Department of History at Oregon State University and Oregon Sea Grant, to bring together information on the fisheries history of the Pacific. We hope to establish a virtual community of people interested in the history of fishing throughout the Pacific.
The literature on the history of fishing is fairly sparse and its pretty fragmented. This is especially true of works on the history of fishing in the Pacific. There are many books dealing with salmon and tuna but my interest is the ocean fisheries, and development after the 1930s, when marine refrigeration made it possible for boats to fish further from home and to stay longer at sea. The development of this technology linked fishing to foreign policy concerns for many nations, including the United States and Japan, as well as Canada, Russia, and Latin American countries, including Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, and Chile.
The story of the development of fishing in the West coast is part of several much larger set of stories-like the industrialization of the food supply, and unique position that fishing played during the Cold War for both the U.S. and the Soviet Union. But at the same time, it is the story of individuals, living in small coastal communities, trying to wrest a living from the sea, as people have done for thousands of year.
We are in the initial stages of trying to write this history. If you were involved in fishing along the Oregon coast, as a fishermen, a scientist, a wife, a child, coastal resident or just somebody interested in history, we invite you to visit and contribute to our Pacific Fishery History Project website.