We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Fishing a borderless sea

environmental territorialism in the North Atlantic, 1818–1910

Brian J. Payne

Publication Year: 2010

Over the centuries, processing and distribution of products from land and sea has stimulated the growth of a global economy. In the broad sweep of world history, it may be hard to imagine a place for the meager little herring baitfish. Yet, as Brian Payne adeptly recounts, the baitfish trade was hotly contested in the Anglo-American world throughout the nineteenth century. Politicians called for wars, navies were dispatched with guns at the ready, vessels were seized at sea, and violence erupted at sea.
     Yet, the battle over baitfish was not simply a diplomatic or political affair. Fishermen from hundreds of villages along the coastline of Atlantic Canada and New England played essential roles in the construction of legal authority that granted or denied access to these profitable bait fisheries. 
     Fishing a Borderless Sea illustrates how everyday laborers created a complex system of environmental stewardship that enabled them to control the local resources while also allowing them access into the larger global economy.

Published by: Michigan State University Press


pdf iconDownload PDF


pdf iconDownload PDF


pdf iconDownload PDF
p. v

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. vii-viii

This book is the product of over ten years of research, writing, and editing. Throughout this decade I received kind advice from mentors, colleagues, and friends. Recently I have benefited from the sound council of Michael Chiarappa, Jonathan Phillips, and Michael Carhart. I thank ...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. xi-xxiv

Many historians have examined the various and complex histories of the oceans’ great fisheries. Within this larger fisheries history, the North Atlantic has been one of the primary geographies of historical investigation. The North Atlantic codfish has captured the imagination of writers for hundreds of...

read more

“White-Washed Yankees”

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 1-28

Throughout the fishing season of 1836, Liverpool (Nova Scotia) fish merchant Philip Carten traveled through the small fishing villages of western Nova Scotia. Like other Nova Scotia fish merchants, Carten sought out inshore fishermen from whom he could purchase baitfish, principally herring or mackerel, in order to outfit his off shore fishing vessels for a voyage...

read more

“Intrusion of Strangers”

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 29-57

Throughout the fall of 1876, Gloucester fishing firms prepared their fleet for the departure to the winter herring fisheries along the coast of Newfoundland. The company of John Pew and Son prepared two well-equipped schooners for the voyage. Both the...

read more

“A fisherman ought to be a free trader anyway”

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 59-95

On the morning of May 6, 1886, local inhabitants of Digby, Nova Scotia, watched as an unknown fishing schooner entered the gut and passed by the docks.1 As the schooner slowly drifted past, the local fishermen of Digby turned their eyes to the stern of the vessel, eager to know her name. To their disappointment, a piece of canvas was draped over the schooner’s stern, which covered the larger portion of the name...

read more

“Peaceable Settlement”

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 97-119

The protracted debates surrounding the repeal of the 1871 Treaty of Washington and the failed 1888 treaty clearly demonstrated to many that baitfish had emerged as a complex diplomatic issue in Anglo-American relations. Th e United States Navy, the Royal Navy, and the Canadian Marine Police all sent armed vessels to enforce their own interpretations...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 131-129

After the 1910 decision at Th e Hague, the bait trade between American and Canadian fishermen continued in its usual manner. Americans were permitted to enter local waters to purchase bait and supplies so long as they did not interfere with the exclusive rights of local fishermen to harvest the catch themselves. After a hundred years of diplomatic communications, three treaties, three failed...


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 131-151


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 153-160


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 161-164

E-ISBN-13: 9781609172152
Print-ISBN-13: 9780870138744

Page Count: 176
Publication Year: 2010

OCLC Number: 763142579
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Fishing a borderless sea

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • Fishers -- North Atlantic Ocean -- History.
  • Social conflict -- North Atlantic Ocean -- History.
  • North Atlantic Ocean -- Commerce -- History.
  • Territorial waters -- North Atlantic Ocean -- History.
  • Fishery resources -- North Atlantic Ocean -- History.
  • Baitfish fisheries -- North Atlantic Ocean -- History -- 19th century.
  • Fishery law and legislation -- History.
  • Baitfish fisheries -- North Atlantic Ocean -- History -- 20th century.
  • International economic relations -- History -- 19th century.
  • International economic relations -- History -- 20th century.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access