The North Atlantic Fish Revolution
An Environmental History of the North Atlantic 1400-1700 (NorFish)
Professor Poul Holm
European Research Council Advanced Grant (2016-2020) NorFish, ERC-2014-ADG
In 1497, John Cabot returned to Bristol from a voyage across the North Atlantic. He told of waters so thick with fish that they could be lifted straight on board in baskets. Within a few years of this journey fishermen from all over Western Europe made the journey across. This was the beginning of the Fish Revolution of the early-modern world.
The Fish Revolution was one of the first examples of the disrupting effects of globalization and climate change. Fish was a high-priced, limited resource in the Late Middle Ages. The Grand Banks fishery offered abundant high-quality low-priced catches to the European market. At the same time climate worsened as the Little Ice Age drove down sea temperatures and changed marine ecosystems.
John Cabot Raising the English Flag on Cape Breton Island, 1497 (JD Kelly, 1862-1958)