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There is no industry in America that antedates the fisheries. Fishermen from France, Spain, Portugal and England frequented the banks of Newfoundland before any trade relations between the Old and the New World came into existence. The codfishery of the New England coast was carried on many years previous to the establishment of a permanent English colony in our country. Voyages of exploration and settlement to New England were prompted by reports of the valuable fishing grounds lying between Cape Cod and Cape Sable. With the permanent settlement of New England the fisheries became the chief industry of the people, and continued down to the Revolution to be a main source of wealth, and to supply the principal article of trade between the merchants of New England and those of the West Indies and Europe.
The fisheries of New England were of especial importance during the colonial period and still continue to be of greater economic importance than at any previous period of our history; yet the industry, with the exception of the whale fishery, has no literature that adequately sets forth its history and value. There are several good accounts of the whale fishery; but the story of the cod and mackerel and inshore fisheries does not appear to have been an attractive field to writers. The accounts we have of the history and of the methods of the fisheries have been prompted largely by government inquiry and exist as government reports.
The present volume aims to show the development and importance of the New England fisheries from pre-colonial