Author to talk about cod fishing in the 17th century

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Maine’s First Ship and the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust will host a conference on 17th-century cod fishing at 1 p.m. on July 1 with author and historian Mike Dekker. Registration required for in-person or virtual participation. Contribution photo

BATH – Maine’s First Ship and the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust will invite Mike Dekker, author and historian, to take speakers on a journey to understand the historical, economic, environmental and cultural significance of the cod fishery in the 17th century at 7 p.m. Thursday July 1. Environment and history buffs will appreciate this in-depth look at how a fishery has played a role in the evolution of world affairs. Attendees will have the option of attending this conference either in person at the Bath Freight Shed at 27 Commercial St. or virtually through Zoom.

Fishing has been a pillar of the region’s economy since the arrival of Europeans in the early 17th century. Originally plying the waters of the Gulf of Maine on a seasonal basis, English fishing crews established permanent year-round fishing stations from Shoals Island to Monhegan in the mid-1620s. Cod exports dried and salted to Europe, Africa, South America and the Caribbean were one of the main economic engines of the New England economy throughout the colonial period. The best fish went to the ports of Catholic Europe where the dried salted fish became the food of the masses. Along the west coast of Africa, fish was used as a bargaining chip in the slave trade, while in Brazil and the Caribbean sugar islands, substandard fish unfit for markets elsewhere was found. bought to feed the burgeoning slave populations. The Atlantic fishery was of such economic importance that it often figured heavily in considerations of war, peace and diplomacy. Despite the seemingly endless bounty of the cod fishery, it is today on the verge of collapse due to a multitude of human and environmental factors.

Registration is free and required to attend the event in person at the Bath Freight Shed (seating is limited to allow social distancing) or to receive the Zoom link for the presentation (sent to registrants prior to the event). For more information and to register, visit mfship.org/events. Click the appropriate button for your preferred method of participation, in person or virtual.

Growing up and residing in Mid Coast Maine, Dekker developed a long-standing passion for the region’s past. An avid student of early American history and material culture, he presents educational programs for historical societies, museums, historic sites, schools and the public. He is the author of the book “The French and Indian Wars In Maine”, which unveils the tragic and largely forgotten history of the six wars that ravaged Maine between 1675 and 1760. In 2017, Dekker participated in an organized international conference by Maine Ulster. Scots Project and the Ulster-Scots Agency dedicated to Scottish-Irish history and culture. The article he presented at the conference, Resistance and Reprisal: The Scots-Irish of Mid-Coast Maine during the French and Indian War, was published in the book “1718-2018 Reflections on 300 Years of the Scots Irish in Maine “.

The mission of Maine’s First Ship is to promote an appreciation of Maine’s shipbuilding heritage, the Popham Colony, and its relationship to the Wabanaki. To learn more, visit mfship.org or call 207-443-4242. The Kennebec Estuary Land Trust is a member-supported organization dedicated to the protection of the land, water and wildlife of the Kennebec Estuary. For more information, visit kennebecestuary.org or call 207-442-8400.

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