Fishing an Extreme Environment: Science, Sovereignty and Hudson Bay
- 271 Downloads
Was a deep-sea commercial fishery possible in Hudson Bay? This question brought the Dominion Government of Canada, through the Department of Marine and Fisheries, to sponsor several mostly-forgotten expeditions beginning in the 1880s to gauge its fishery potential. Logically, fisheries should have been possible, given the importance of many fisheries in far northern waters–the groundfish fishery in Barents Sea north of Norway, for example, and the whale fishery in northern Hudson Bay. Sea fisheries had apparently not developed yet in Hudson Bay due to its inaccessibility, the use of only small craft for near-shore fishing, and the climate’s severity. Or did the lack of a fishery reflect a real absence of fish? The Canadian government’s queries were perplexing, however, given the challenges in fishing Hudson Bay’s ice-shrouded waters. Its interest in the region had been so scanty that parts of northern Hudson Bay had not yet been charted. Also, the prolific east-coast fishery already harvested too many fish for domestic markets, and faced depressed prices in international markets. Toronto and other inland markets were well-supplied by Great Lake fish. Simply put, Canada did not require more fish.