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Historical Fishing Operations

This page goes into a little more detail describing old fishing practices as well as the sheer quantity of fish that used to be found in our area. Julien Mordecai’s great-grandfather Edward Wood owned Greenfield fishery, along with multiple others in the area. One source states that according to the 1844 records by Greenfield Fishery, a skilled “cutter” could process 4,000-6,000 herring per day! In a season, which only lasted during the spring, totals ranged from a low of 86,850 fish to a high of 1,138,075 fish processed at that single fishery. If you have ever tried to fish in the Albemarle Sound, those numbers should be shocking. 


They would harvest the fish using what was called “seining.” The seines, which were basically huge nets used in the fisheries, were enormous. They generally measured from 2,200 to 2,700 yards in length and 18 feet in depth and were set from two large rowboats. To further exemplify the number of fish that used to be found in our local waters, it was once reported that a single seine from the Albemarle Sound resulted in 220,000 herring. That is obviously a huge number, but records from 1835 to 1874 show that the average annual herring catch was about 1 to 3 million fish. 

Taylor, M. T. (1992). Seiners and Tongers: North Carolina Fisheries in the Old and New South. The North Carolina Historical Review, 69(1), 1–36.

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