Publishing the history & culture
of Southeastern New England  •  Since 1981


Down to the Sea for Fish:
New Bedford Fishing Fleet

Booklet • Originally published by Reynolds Printing Co. in 1939 • $12.00
28 pages • 5.5” x 8.5” • 20 photos & illus.
Reprinted on-demand, laser quality

This 28-page booklet is one of the earliest narratives describing the early years of New Bedford’s commercial fishing industry. It includes accounts written by industry pioneer and visionary Captain Dan Mullins about the  history of the Georges Banks fishery, facts about contemporary fishermen, and the state of the industry. There are also excerpts from popular magazines and newspapers of the day---such as  The Atlantic Fisherman, The American Fishermen, and The Nantucket Inquirer and Mirror---relating details about the New England fisheries from Maine and Gloucester to Boston and Cape Cod. The booklet includes a listing of registered boats in the New Bedford fleet along with their engine types, tonnage, captains and owners. An informative essay by Curator Tripp (along with excerpts from his scrapbook) details the evolution of fishing vessels from schooners to trawlers and draggers; and an editorial by journalist Joseph Chase Allen adds a poignant perspective of the future of the industry.

While the booklet celebrates the men and the accomplishments of the New England fishing industry, it also devotes considerable ink to overfishing and conservation:

  1. It now looks as though the biggest part of the dragging fleet will he out of luck for fair as draggers unless the skippers get together and work out some plan for conserving the flounder. The flounder fishery has been carried on extensively only about fifteen years and in the present intensive manner for only five or six, but the supply on the Nantucket grounds and thereabouts shows indications of serious over fishing already. It is conceded that a few more years at the rate they are going now will about end them. Most of the draggers are too big to engage in other shore fisheries and too small to go to sea if they have to quit floundering.

Note: This booklet is not to be confused with Spinner’s forthcoming book of the same name, Down to Sea for Fish: The History of the New Bedford Fishing Industry.

Down to the Sea for Fish

Booklet published by Reynolds Printing Co. in 1939

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