Saturday, May 29, 2010

Portugese Cod Fishing with Banks Dories

More film of Portuguese and Basque cod fishermen.

These old shots just amaze me. Look at the seas these fellows braved every day, in small boats that most people today would consider dangerously diminutive.






Thank you, Caxinas a freguesia!

20 comments:

robert.ditterich said...

Great footage, what a fabulous record. Aren't you glad we don't have to fish in black and white?

michael b said...

1963. My entire memory of those days is in black and white!
No hand held video in these shots. Getting footage like this took a lot of effort.
Did you follow the link to Caxinas? More film there, as well as a great blog about traditional luggers. (English translation available.)

robert.ditterich said...

I can't get that link to work for me Michael. I wonder if it has something to do with that exclamation mark at the end?

michael b said...

Fixed now, Rob. Thanks for the "heads up". Caxinas is also one of the live feed links on the left side bar... the web site is in Portugese, which Google Translate has some trouble with so the translation requires interpretation, but a good site and worth the effort.

robert.ditterich said...

that's better. Cheers!

amovablebridge said...

Very neat film.

You must be aware of the dory shop in Gloucester, MA, and the International Dory Racing Association based there. They still build 'em and row 'em like they used to.

michael b said...

You east coasters have all the fun. There's a good chance I might be elected to Counsel for the Traditional Small Craft Association this month, which will give me added incentive to visit the eastern seaboard. It's been a long time and a lot of great boating activities are thriving on the Atlantic that I've only read about.

bonnie said...

DoryMan, I think you might really enjoy something I linked to today!

fangueiro.antonio said...

Hi Michael.

Thank you for sharing this film also with your readers. The whole documentary is probably French, as it focuses most of itself in the French Newfoundland/Iceland fleet.
Every time it shows a one-man dory... it´s the Portuguese.
Several other films may be found through out my blog.

B.Regards,
António Fangueiro
www.caxinas-a-freguesia.blogs.sapo.pt

michael b said...

António,
Do you suppose that French or Portugese, we are actually speaking of the Basque?
I read your blog regularly, the best I can, with translation. Always an inspiration! I appreciate the depth of your research.

fangueiro.antonio said...

Hi Michael.

On what I know, I never read of the Basque fishing cod in dories as we know them. Although Basque presence in eastern America has a good number of centuries, their main goal was whaling and even cod was fished in older methods, not by one or two manned dories.
But I´m always learning :)

Regards,
www.caxinas-a-freguesia.blogs.sapo.pt

michael b said...

I trust your expertise, António.
The older methods you speak of would be seiner fishing from a larger vessel?

fangueiro.antonio said...

Michael,

I believe cod in those early times was caught near shore and always by hand lines, fom small skiffs. The Basques had small stations installed near the sea to process the whaling products, but I don´t yet know how cod (if it was) treated. Definetly I see the Basques as a whaling people.

Regards,
www.caxinas-a-freguesia.blogs.sapo.pt

michael b said...

When we think of the cod fishery and fishing from boats with no motors, it is assumed that we are talking about the distant past. Yet these films, taken recently demonstrate that fishing in this method was effective even in modern times. It is a much more humane way of harvesting than the modern factory ships and fewer unintended species suffer, so why do we believe that bigger ships and more power are the answer?

fangueiro.antonio said...

Hi Michael.

Your last question on "why bigger ships and more power" can be the mote for a lot of writing. In fact codfishing as traditional started and maintained itself always by the method of handlining, for centuries. But as in many things, after the XVth century also the fisheries became a profitable business, with the great example of the Dutch and their monopoly of herring fisheries, with huge fleets in the North Sea, and also cod became a gold mine at this time and "big" ships started going to the Grand Banks, handlining the cod from both sides of the ship. Around the XVIIth century, with the fleets and Nations increasing in need for cod "to feed the people", a new method appears, with big skiffs taken onboard the ships, where at the Banks, would leave the "mothership" with around 10 men inside, again handlining. Later this method improves to the smaller boats, our beloved dories, made to fit themselves inside of eachother onboard and so able to be taken to the banks in big numbers. The only Nations I know that used dories, are the U.S.A., Canada/Newfoundland, Portugal and France. The singularity of Portugal with dories has 2 main points: 1st it was one man per dory (the French 2) and 2nd this method finished only in 1974, my father being one of the dorymen onboad the ship "Novos Mares" in this last historical campaign, ship where he has been a dorymen since 1967. The French abandoned the dories in the 1930s, so for more 45 years we maintained in our fleet the dories, gradually decreasing for a few trawlers and seiners. Many blame our leader of the time, Dr. Salazar for not modernizing our fleet, like the French, Russians, Polish, Swedish, Spanish, British, etc, etc, with their bigger and bigger trawler/factories, destroying all the Banks/ecosystem just next to our dorymen, staring at them. Through the 1950-60s, our fleet incorporated some trawlers and seiners, but none of them was such a "beast" in machinery as those Nations used. The reason is simple and obvious for super size/machinery ships: Profit! Why Dr. Salazar kept the "slow" dories until 1974? I know the answer, but I will write it down some other time.
Governments let themselves be controled by businessmen, and with cod was the same. I am totally against codfishing by trawiling and I truly believe that the perfect balance would be to return to a "dory-type" fishing. The reasons are very simple: the total sustainability of the fish, and in fact many (many) more jobs created. But in the modern economics, what I say is utopical and natural collapses of many forms are around us, worsening every year. Worse... is that with many of this collapses, also our human cultures collapse and I see a bigger and bigger "void" in what makes us human.
Governments and monopolizing business seem to go hand-by-hand- happier than ever. Somehow we may pay a very high price for this, but I believe "the people" has the power in their hands... the problem is that we don´t know it... .

Regards,
www.caxinas-a-freguesia.blogs.sapo.pt

michael b said...

António, your response is just as I hoped it would be.
When so many work to support the wealth of so few, you might think that a revolution was at hand. I guess we will see what happens when the food chain breaks down under economic pressure. Those who live already at a subsistence level may at last have the advantage.
Many are the old stories that tell of a happy life of hard work, with plenty of good food to eat as a result of your own diligent effort.

Some prgamatic changes in the world's fisheries would not mean a return to a primative life where a fisherman in his fifties was an old man. As you say, the triumph of the individual over the machine could employ many out of work people and a reasonable limit to the profit motive would insure adequate wages for everyone.

It doesn't seem too hard, so why is it so?
Tax the rich and feed the poor until there are no rich, no more.

fangueiro.antonio said...

Michael,

I´m glad you understand my point of view. As I wrote previously, I know why Dr. Salazar kept the dories until 1974... . His personal maxim was "God, Fatherland and Family". This as his trilogy for the basis of men, and he implemented it for 50 years. This meant for most of the Portuguese, a simple life, hard but I would say happy in what really makes us happy as humans. Villages where thriving with people and life, their culture and folklore, fishing comunities where painted, fotographed and admired internationaly. But not all men are happy with the same, and there was also a lot of emigration, as after WWII, Europe and the world changed to an economical "monster" until today (and will continue). So Salazar had no chances against the world, although keeping (also by hard ways) power for 50 years. He fought against the WWII, keeping Portugal neutral, fought for the colonies being atacked by “far away” interests, fought for a maritime Portugal, etc.
I was very lucky to be born in 1975, still in a time where that, in a sense, "enchanted" Portugal existed. Both my mother and father are from humble fishing people, since ever, and I grew up in that enchanted world of the seaside, amongst calm tides of green seaweed glued all over me, the heavy 5 metre waves crashing against our piers in Winter, the arriving of the boats (no sails already in 1980s) and the women organizing all this work wth the fish for selling, and me a happy kid enjoying my tin boat, made with kitchen knife and hammer, amongst all that Life. I grew up understanding the laws of nature, of the sealife and their so varied fishes that I always wanted to clean for lunch or dinner, the speed of boats depending on their hulls form, making big mess by sculptering them in white poliuretane.
Today those places, boats ans ways don´t exist anymore, due to the European Union directives which erased most of the traditional way of fishing and so erased the places and culture where I was born.
The Portuguese would never have a codfishing White Fleet without Salazar, but few today have the guts to admit it´s his work for us to admire as a maritime Nation, proven in history. Many fishermen hated codfishing, but it was the best pay of that time, and many other fishermen still remind those days, very hard work days, with tears in their eyes for missing so much that mix of prision/freedom of 6 months away from Portugal, the comradship on board, the tragedy always sneaking the doryman, the incredible feeling of missing our beloved ones for 6 months and then the return after the campaign… .
As I grow older, the more and more and am fascinated by that world… as it´s in there I see myself.

Regards,
www.caxinas-a-freguesia.blogs.sapo.pt

michael b said...

Good António, it seems that each generation has a similar story. I am of your parents generation, but was raised by my grandparents. So it is to the pre- WWI years that I look for inspiration and with nostalgia, but I know those were hard times and few who lived them thought of them as romantic. As I grow older I try to understand how much of my interpretation of the world is a fear of change and how much is concern for the future.

I'm afraid that I see more and more humans grabbing for fewer resources, which doesn't leave much margin for recovery.

One reason I celebrate the traditions of the past is that I see them disappearing before my eyes and the lessons learned lost to us forever, much the same as Europe in the centuries following the rule of the Roman Empire.

The dorymen worked hard and seriously depleted the cod fishery. Our answer to a diminishing resource was to invent new, aggressive and more efficient methods of fishing. We should have learned fifty years ago that we need to develop sustainable industries, yet the debate today is still whether we need to protect our resources, not how we should do so.

So, as it has been for all of my adult years, I join in the chorus of humans who realise that if we don't save and protect, we will lose.



I have known men who fished alone and made a living, perhaps not as prosperous a living as some... And I have known men who adopted factory fishing methods and became wealthy. Maybe the wealthy men are happy, I can't say, but I know that the young men and women who work for them are beset by poverty, ignorance, drugs and disease, while the men who work their own boats are their own masters. Surely there is a lesson to be learned there.

fangueiro.antonio said...

Michael,
On this comment you left on my blog,
«A question about the dories - On the Doryman blog, there has been some comments about whether the dories are called Banks, or Bank dories. Some people, including Wikipedia seem to think the dories are named for the Grand Banks, but I have recently read a very good book called "A Doryman's Day" by Captain Barry Fisher, who fished the dory boats as a young man. He says that all of the boats they used were "double banked", which leads me to assume that he is refering to the number of rowing stations. So, is the boat nammed for it's rowing stations? A single would be a bank dory, then there would be double banked dories, or even triple banked dories? Michael Bogoger (Doryman)»

To my knowledge, "banks" refer not to the sitting posts in the dory, but simply to the Grand Banks, where they became used in large scale, being this ocean area the richest in cod. The most known are the "Banks Dories" precisely due to the Grand Banks.

Regards,
www.caxinas-a-freguesia.blogs.sapo.pt

fangueiro.antonio said...

Michael,

"Double banked" in my understanding means simply 2 sitting positions. In fact the front one takes the sail mast, so I don´t see it even as a sitting position.

Regards,
www.caxinas-a-freguesia.blogs.sapo.pt