“The Great History of Fishing” Uses the Global Fishery History to Find the Way to Coexist With the Sea


The biggest enlightenment from the book “The Great History of Fishing” is that we need a historical perspective, and we need to understand and sort out the gradual relationship between human beings, the environment and even the natural ecology based on the development of fishery over the past hundreds of thousands of years, and learn from it. Get inspired to avoid the consequences of developing a disconnected relationship with the environment. The book clearly informs that since the nineteenth century, fishery has been transformed into an industrial-scale industry, and Combined with climate and environmental disasters, it will inevitably lead to the end of human society being cut off from nature.

Taiwan is an island with rich fish resources. From intertidal fishery to pelagic fishery, Taiwan has become a large fishery country with an annual catch of millions of tons. Fishing capabilities, including fishing technology and fishing gear and equipment, cannot be developed by leaps bounds, but are the result of a gradual process, relying on the progressive development of Taiwan’s fishery history and culture.

The remains of shell mounds are found everywhere in Taiwan, which proves that our fishery history far exceeds the 400-year history of Taiwan in the view of the Han people. However, there is no problem in progressing from the abundant fish resources in the upper reaches to the industrial capacity of a large fishery country, but the fishery culture, fishery spirit, and fishery art that should appear next are obviously too small. No wonder, when it comes to fisheries, many people in Taiwan may think that eating fish or Even banning fishing will solve the problem of depletion of fish resources.

The importance of the work “The Great History of Fishing” can be seen. It tries to remind us with the long history of fishery, various factors of today’s fishery plight, as well as future development trends and possible solutions.

Among the ancient methods of feeding, only fishing has survived to this day

Fishing has played an important but neglected role in human history. Hunting, gathering plants, and fishing are ancient ways for humans to obtain food, and of the three, only fishing has remained important after the development of agriculture and the increase in food stocks about 12,000 years ago.

In today’s world, collecting wild plants no longer makes economic sense anywhere. Hunting exists mainly because of the illegal poaching of ivory and the trade in traditional medicines, and less to control wildlife populations in North America. Yet fishing not only, but survived providing food rations for the pharaohs, supplies for Nordic sailors , and food for millions of us today.

There are few technological innovations in fishing, mainly relying on the observation ability of fishermen

The earliest fishing activities arose from the fundamental human trait of opportunity. Careful observation, combined with timing, led our ancestors to catch fish some two million years ago. It takes dexterous hands to pick a trapped catfish out of a shallow African pool, and it must be pursued carefully so as not to cast a reflection on the water. The secret is knowing where and when to look, the same skill you use for gathering honey, picking up lion carcasses, and hunting duiker. The only difference is that these catfish were in shallow water, making this almost not fishing and more like opportunistic hunting, a pattern that has been maintained for tens of thousands of years.

The same method of observation can be applied to catching mollusks, although they are far easier to catch than fish. Clams, limpets, oysters and moth snails are densely clustered in small areas, and the variables when catching are accessibility, water currents or tides. Like fish, they are also complementary foods and are not usually a favorite food source. From a hunter-gatherer’s perspective, shellfish are predictable food and a resource that provides a sense of security in a changing life. People visit mollusk habitats when other foods are scarce, especially in late winter and spring.

Nobody “invented” fishing. Everyone knows that the fish are there to be caught at a certain time and place. I am impressed by the way humans have fished in the past, because even when they were able to fish in large quantities, they were not accompanied by astounding technological innovations. Whether hunting on land or dealing with fish in shallow water,  people often use spears with wooden barbs or prongs. Original double barbed hooks made of sharp prongs, bone and wood , and later hooks are also ideal for bird hunting. Nets and traps used to catch small game also work well in water. Still, even with specialized hooks and larger nets, fishing tools have remained remarkably static over the course of history. The fisherman’s observation skills are the primary means, and always have been.

Fishing fuels boatbuilding Shipbuilding allows humans to travel far and wide

Much of the history of fishing is about change, not only in the dynamics of the fishing act itself, but also in the interactions between fishing communities and others who depend on them. Fishing was the main incentive for the development of shipbuilding, which in turn facilitated human trade, migration, and exploration. 45,000 years ago, people fished in boats off the coast of Southeast Asia, and 15,000 years later, people on the Bismarck Islands in the southwestern Pacific Ocean did the same. By 1200 canoes sailed AD, as to the Society Islands, Easter Island, and Hawaii, livelihoods on the Pacific islands began to depend on professional piloting and lagoon fishing skills.

Jomon-era fishing communities in northern Japan relied heavily on salmon runs and ventured out to the rough waters of the Kuril Islands and as far as the Kamchatka peninsula in Northeast Asia. Jomon fishermen caught almost the same species as the first cost Americans who castled the of Alaska. In the far north, on the Bering land bridge that connected Siberia and Alaska some 11,000 years ago, humans relied on mobility and a highly developed opportunity to make fishing and hunting marine mammals an extended survival way of strategy.

The catch was originally for personal use and later became rations

Subsistence fisheries aimed at providing more food for families and villages is one thing, but it is quite another to harvest large catches to sell as a commodity. In the ancient world, it was not uncommon for fish to be harvested plentifully, but even if some of the catch was traded with other communities, near or far, much of the fish was caught for its own consumption. Controlling salmon runs was a major source of economic and political power in the American Pacific Northwest, and probably in Jomon settlements as well. Fishermen on the Danube reap huge harvests when the sturgeon comes to the shallow waters to spawn. Subsistence fisheries of all kinds must rely on effective preservation techniques, such as drying, brining or smoking, which hunters have used for hundreds of thousands of years.

Even with organized seasonal harvests, local subsistence fisheries are fundamentally different from large-scale fishing to supply food rations to the ancient Egyptians who built the pyramids of Giza . full-time fishermen working the large purse seines. Those catches were gutted, cleaned, cut open and dried by thousands of people as rations for laborers in pre-industrial economies, with many benefits. Such fish products are light in weight, easy to carry in a basket, and can be stored for a long time. When fish is rationed , the scale of the fishery changes. With the growth of the non-farmer population, the advent of urban markets, and the increased need to provide nutritious food rations for troops and sailors, the use of fish as a ration was a logical outcome.

Farming as a response to overfishing

Aquaculture was not invented by anyone. When the demand for fish rapidly increases and local waters become overfished, people have limited options for coping. One is to use long fishing lines and other equipment to strengthen fishing; ; the third is to switch to aquaculture, that is, fish farming.

The third option is a logical strategy for those concerned about declining catches and a way to get larger fish. As early as 3500 BC, the Chinese domesticated the red-brown carp. Wealthy Romans were happy to display their wealth-raising fish at extravagant banquets In addition; the reason why European monasteries in the middle Ages began to raise fish was partly because of Christian teachings that pious believers had to increase the number of days of fasting without eating meat.

New technologies of the nineteenth century transformed fishing into an industrialized industry. Fewer catches prompted the development of longer lines and larger drift gillnets, as well as the first bottom trawls that devastated the seabed. Then came the steam engine, then gasoline power, and final diesel, allowing trawlers to go to deeper waters than ever before and sparking the fisheries crisis we face today.

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