We’re Moving!

February 18th, 2012  / Author: admin

The Pacific Fishery History Project has not been very active, due to some technical problems, which are now resolved. Please join us at:


“Living off the Pacific Ocean Floor”

March 24th, 2011  / Author: admin

Moscovita“In 1965, we found new fishing grounds for Ocean Perch off the Oregon Coast. We were running and I was watching the fathometer. Suddenly I saw a big black spot on the screen. I got pretty excited because I knew that meant fish. Boy, did it ever! In our first tow we got 50,000 pounds of Perch. Before the day was over, we had one hundred and fifty thousand pounds of fish on the boat. They filled hatches and were piled on the deck so the boat was nearly sinking. We ran into Astoria and pulled up to Sebastian Stuart Fish Company. The manager came out and was really upset. He asked why we had not called in told him we were coming. He said he couldn’t possibly sell that much fish. It would have to go for mink food. I hadn’t called because I knew he would tell me not to bring it in. and I figured if I was there, he have to deal with the fish. So he got on the phone and sold it all. We get five cents a pound for it. That the was the biggest catch of fish I ever made in one day.”

I’ve been reading a fascinating little book, “Living off the Pacific Ocean Floor, Memoir and Stores by Captain George Moskovita.”  The … Continue Reading »

“Adventures in “rockfish” Cookery,” from 1951

February 6th, 2011  / Author: admin

rockfishrecipesIsn’t this a marvelous drawing? I was looking for information at OSU’s Valley Library this week and I plugged “Sebastes” into the search engine. Up popped a number of interesting items, including this one, to a publication of the Oregon Experiment Station in September of 1951.  It’s a collection of recipes, pulled together by the Seafoods Laboratory of the Food Technology Department in Astoria, by Margaret R. Lunning and E. W. Harvey.

This is interesting on several fronts. Oregon fishing companies were trying to sell more rockfish fillets and the Agricultural Experiment Station responded with a collection of recipes. The fish had been caught off Oregon since the 1930s, but hadn’t been generally available to the consumer. That was about to change. Pacific Ocean Perch was soon going to be “conspicuous in markets and groceries,” as the pamphlet put it.

Oregon rockfish are similar the the redfish, red perch, or ocean perch caught on the east coast of the U.S., where it is now the “most abundantly produced fish in that area of the country,” (italics in the original).

“The person who enjoys fish but resents a strong, “fishy” taste will find in this delicately flavored flesh a valuable addition to his list of seafood favorites.” The recipes all recommend combining salt with mono sodium glutamate, “a natural salt, which in itself has no … Continue Reading »

Oregon trawlers called them “rosies”

January 27th, 2011  / Author: admin

One of the stories that I vividly remember from my days working for The Oregonian was a meeting that Oregon Sea Grant agent Bob Jacobsen set up with four of Newport’s older fishermen. One of them was Gordon White and he had me enthralled, talking about trawling in the 1940s, heading out of Newport with just a depth finder to help them find fish. There weren’t coastal cities then, there were coastal towns, small towns, and on the ocean in the dark, there weren’t many lights to guide them back home.

Gordon White was one of the first fishermen to deliver a fish that he called rosies, or rosefish, a species I knew as Pacific Ocean Perch, or POP. The proper name is Sebastes alutus, and it is the current focus of my research and next book (check The Redfish Project entry under research projects for more information,http://oregonstate.edu/pacificfisheryhistoryproject/research-projects/). The book starts here, in Newport, with fishermen like Gordon White, captain of the Yaquina, delivering rosies to the Yaquina Bay Fish Company.  The rose fish looked a lot like a fish that East Coast processors were selling as Ocean Perch. The fish had the same biological name, Sebastes. The company’s owners, Harold Penter and Dudley Turnacliff, started marketing fresh fillets as “Newport Brand Ocean Perch.”

World War II had been a good period for American fishermen. The military signed contacts to buy most … Continue Reading »

The Albaross and Redfish

December 30th, 2010  / Author: admin

One of the things I love about history is way that bits of information connect and illuminate. I’ve been reading about the  Sebastes family of fish, as I get started on my next research project (take a look at our research projects page). And several of the articles I’ve looked at have a common footnote or citation, Gilbert, 1890. And that means some of the earliest scientific work on Sebastes alutus, or Pacific Ocean Perch, or POP, or Redfish–that work was started by Charles Gilbert as one of the four cruises onboard the Albatross.

In a previous post, An Oregon Fisheries Timeline, I wrote about the start of fisheries science in Oregon, with a cruise by the famous federal research ship, the Albatross. In 1888, the U.S. Fish Commission sent the Albatross to conduct investigations in the North Pacific Ocean during the fall of 1888 and the summer and fall of 1881. The summary of their findings was published in the Bulletin of the U.S. Fish Commission, vol. viii, in 1888. The survey is described as “extensive,” but few fishing spots were developed.

Launched in 1882, the Albatross was the world’s first large deep-water oceanographic and fisheries research vessel.  It had a distinguished 40-year career, and much of it was documented in a special issue of the Marine Fisheries Review, in 1999. As I’ve written … Continue Reading »