After explaining the cod’s many qualities, such as its high protein content and long storage life, the author of Cod, Mark Krulansky, discusses the effect the most popular fish in the ocean has had on Europe and North America. European powers including Spain, England, Portugal and France developed large fishing fleets to seek out the cod fish. Their pursuit of the cod and their constant search for prized fishing grounds resulted in an enormous amount of exploration and the discovery and settlement of new lands.
I learned that the expansion of the cod fishing industry basically put New England (literally, Cape Cod, Massachusetts) on the map. Before the discovery of plentiful fishing grounds off New England’s coastline, this was a starving settlement. By the eighteenth century, however, New England had become an international commercial power with trade routes to Europe, the West Indies and Africa (trading cod for rum and slaves). Krulansky explains that it was Britain’s fear of New England’s growing power in international markets that caused Britain to impose taxes and other trade restrictions and sparked the America’s revolution and independence.
Part II of Cod addresses the downfall of the cod population and its effect on the nations. In Part II, I learned that major changes in fishing methods and man’s own greed were the basic reasons for the depletion of the cod fish supply. Fishing techniques used for centuries, such as casting out trawl lines (a single line with a series of baited hooks) and hand-baiting from a small boat called a “dory”, were replaced with modern fishing methods. Large nets on larger and faster ships like sail-powered schooners, steamships, and then diesel powered iron ships allowed for much larger catches. And ships with large cargo holds remained at sea for longer periods of time, storing huge quantities of frozen cod. The problem was that fishing for cod became too efficient, and the cod supply became depleted....