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When Italian explorer Giovanni Caboto (or John Cabot as he is locally known) first discovered North America in 1497, his first words were "O buono vista!" When translated into English, this phrase means, "Oh happy sight!" which is certainly fitting for what would become the town of Bonavista, the historic site of Cabot's landing. That wasn't the only thing said about the area. His crew reported that "the sea there is full of fish that can be taken not only with nets but with fishing-baskets". These days, rocky shores, pebbled beaches and picturesque fishing boats line small formations of houses, new and old. Whales, seabirds, and icebergs are usual guests along the amazing shorelines surrounded by dense trees. In The Dungeon, the cliffs give way into a mammoth, natural opening with two seaward-side channels. But what about the cod fishing? Carried out at a subsistence level for centuries, large scale fishing began shortly after John Cabot's arrival. Traditional methods included venturing out in a dory armed with a couple of lines and knowledge of the ocean. In 1951 factory fishing began with new super-trawlers such as the 'Fairtry' 280 feet long and 2,600 gross tons. Approximately 8 million tons of cod were caught between 1647 and 1750, a period encompassing 25 to 40 cod generations. The factory trawlers took the same amount in 15 years. Then in the early 1990s the industry collapsed due mainly to overfishing. After a 10 year moratorium the waters are still dominated by crab and shrimp rather than fish, but if you find a friendly fisherman you can still head out into the Atlantic, use old school methods, and look for the slowly returning cod. Not only do you get a feel for what life used to be like for the hard working Newfoundlanders, you may also get a spectacular feed.

  • by travelcontent
  • recorded November 2012
  • uploaded Nov 15, 2012
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