“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 book is a collective family effort; they taped his stories, then his daughter, Jo Ann Williams, transcribed them. Jo Ann’s husband compiled the text and arranged the pictures, including copies of newspaper stories from the Daily Astorian, the Chinook Observer, and Pacific Fisherman.

The cover picture shows George standing on a net full of fish; he doesn’t say if it was the 1965 catch of 150,000 pounds. The picture appears to be taken on the ocean, but the water sure looks calm.

I’m excited about this little book for several reasons. It’s a great read on the volatile days of the early fishery. George is everywhere, from fishing tuna off California to crab in Washington, in a variety of boats.  He talks about the early days of trawling, fishing for the mink plant in Astoria in the 1950s.  But I also really like that his family collaborated with him on the project, bringing together their family history (there were four daughters, and great pictures of them, in matching costumes, singing at annual Christmas festivals in Astoria). It’s a project that more fishing families should consider doing, especially now that software makes these sorts of projects much easier.

The World of the Oregon Fishboat: A Study in Maritime Folklore

December 10th, 2009  / Author: admin

The World of the Oregon Fishboat: A Study in Maritime FolkloreJanet C. Gilmore, The World of the Oregon Fishboat: A Study in Maritime Folklore, (Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1986).

The most comprehensive look at fishing in Oregon was produced in 1986, by Janet Gilmore, produced out the research she did while teaching a class in folklore at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology during the 1975. Her students began bringing her information about the fishing fleet. Gilmore was soon hooked on finding out more about the industry. She moved to Charleston, found a part-time job to finance her research, and set to work inventorying and cataloging the boats moored around the bay. She had the invaluable assistance of Paul Heikkila, who was the Coos Bay Sea Grant Extension Agent at the time. As Gilmore put it, her book concentrates “within the sphere of relationships and communicative behavior that integrates the world at sea with the world ashore through the medium of the fishboat (16).”

The Sea Knows No Boundaries

November 16th, 2009  / Author: admin

The Sea Knows No Boundaries:

The Sea Knows No Boundaries: A Century of Marine Science Under ICES
by Helen Rozwadowski

“For a detailed account of research and related activities involving the contribution of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) throughout the 20th century, and also the related activities of the International Commission for the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries (ICNAF) and its Standing Committee on Research and Statistics one can do no better than read Helen Rozwadowski’s comprehensive book published in 2002.” – Sidney Holt

Fathoming the Ocean

November 16th, 2009  / Author: admin

Fathoming the Ocean:

Fathoming the Ocean: The Discovery and Exploration of the Deep Sea
by Helen Rozwadowski

Helen Rozwadowski not only knows a lot about fishing, she knows a lot about oceanography and fascination that people have always had for the sea. I love this book; I love the way Helen has captured the excitement in Victoria England and the U.S., as the general public falls in love with exploring the oceans. Helen writes about little boys in sailor suits, Queen Victoria going dredging, and some of the events that led up to the Challenger expedition. It’s also a rollicking good read, and it won the Ida and Henry Schuman Prize from the History of Science Society last year.

A Science on the Scales

November 16th, 2009  / Author: admin

A Science On The Scales

A Science on the Scales: Canadian Fisheries Biology, 1898-1939
by Jennifer Hubbard

This is a wonderful book about Atlantic fisheries history. My favorite part is Jennifer’s account of the development of marine biological stations around the world, and the events leading up to the establishment of the St. Andrew’s Station in New Brunswick. If you’re interested in rooting the development of fisheries history and how it fits into the wider picture of Victorian science, this is the book for you. It won the North American Society for Oceanic History’s 2006 John Lyman Award for Canadian Naval and Maritime History.