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White Ship

A short film made in 1966 by the National Film Board of Canada about one of the last sailing ships from Portugal to fish off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland

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The White Ship Gives a Glimpse of What Was Lost through Over-Fishing

  • Sep 27, 2009
  • by
Doing some research for my next book project, I've just come across a marvelous National Film Board of Canada short film about one of the last white ships from Portugal to fish of Newfoundland and Labrador. You can view it here,

Called The White Ship, it details a crossing in 1966 of one of the last ships to make the long voyage across the Atlantic from Portugal to fish cod. The photo above shows the ship, the Santa Maria Manuela, in St. John's harbour sometime in the 1950s. It is currently being restored in Portugal and may make once again cross the ocean, if only to provide a look at a maritime history worth remembering. 

For more than 500 years men in sailing ships set off from Portuguese and Basque ports to make their way across the treacherous Atlantic.  Initially the cod were so abundant that they could be scooped up in buckets dropped over the side.  While quantities fluctuated after that, the Santa Maria Manuela and ships like her did not take so many fish that the cod could not reproduce themselves in quantity.  But shortly after this film was made the factory ships came in, vacuuming up cod and everything else.  The stocks now are so reduced that commericial fishing is drastically reduced, with many areas permanently closed to fishing

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About the reviewer

Ranked #92
Mary Soderstrom is a Montreal-based writer of fiction and non-fiction. Her new collection of short stories, Desire Lines: Stories of Love and Geography, will be published by Oberon Press in November, … more
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