Fishing Measures

A Critique of Desk-Bound Reason

By Daniel Banoub
Categories: Economics, Food & Cooking, History
Publisher: Memorial University Press
Paperback : 9781894725972, 264 pages, December 2021
Ebook (PDF) : 9781894725989, March 2023
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781894725996, March 2023

Table of contents

Dedication (ix)

Acknowledgements (xi)


1.     Making Fish

The Local Fetish (3)

A Chain of Endless Troubles (25)


2.     Fish Out of Water

Controlling Quantity (57)

Predicting Quantity (75)


3.     Water Out of Fish

Improving Quality (105)

Discovering Quality (127)


4.     Breaking Collar

From Dory to Desk (153)


Notes (169)

Bibliography (227)

Index (255)


Fishing Measures investigates the introduction of fisheries science to Newfoundland’s saltfishery between the 1880s and 1930s. Banoub argues that during this period fishers’ embodied knowledge came to be seen as less reliable and authoritative than modern scientific state management. Fishing Measures situates this crucial shift in the history of capitalism, showing how the development of abstract scientific knowledge is integral to capitalist value relations.

Fishing Measures trawls a variety of archival sources to document the introduction of scientific knowledge to the extraction, processing, and consumption of saltfish. The book lucidly documents scientific developments on subjects ranging from artificial propagation, to curing techniques, to cod liver oil production. Fishing Measures makes an invaluable contribution to contemporary debates regarding relationships between capitalism, the environment, and science.


Fishing Measures is a fascinating book that will be of interest to historians of Newfoundland, fisheries, and natural resources more broadly. Those who apply a historical materialist lens will be especially at home with the text...

- Jennifer Silver, Network in Canadian History & Environment

Fishing Measures offers a historical assessmment of Newfoundland's fisheries...combining fine-grained historical research with Marxist conceptual analysis.

- Michael Fabinyi, AAG Review of Books