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1969: Newfoundland Fishing
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Up until the start of the Second World War Fecamp was the biggest French port for the Newfoundland and Icelandic cod fishing fleets. This activity generated many others: drying, salting and pickling works, rope and ship’s-biscuit factories, ship yards, oil works, foundries, wood yards… After the war this industry could not resist modernization and international competition...We know that after having been fished on lines from the long boats, the cod were brought back to the Newfoundlanders and thrown on to the deck. The sailors cleaned the fish, cut off their heads, removed the back bones, flattened and salted them and stacked them in the hold. When the holds were full the ships set sail back to Fecamp, hence this unloading operation prior to the sale. This activity did not resist the arrival of the factory trawlers a few years later, on which the fish were prepared, wrapped and frozen directly. Once a cheap and popular food, cod has suffered from the after-effects of industrialization and fishing restrictions, and now it is almost a luxury item.
Superb ! Jean Martin and Yves Le Roy made a true documentary film. Having embarked, in 1969, on the Newfoundland fishing boat the Louis Legasse, captained by the famous Jean Recher, they filmed an entire fishing season on the Newfoundland cod banks in great detail. From the departure from Fécamp, with farewells from families on the dock, to the ship sailing in the icy waters off Newfoundland, everything is included here! We see shots of the sailors working on decks that are overflowing with cod. They wear yellow raincoats and have knives in their belts. This is an exceptional record of the fishery, including dolphins surfing the boat's wake and a basking shark's tragedy. In fact once a viewing of the 14’56 minutes of film is finished, the film seems too short and we are left with only one desire: to watch it again!