Journeys of Discovery: Newfoundland women fishing for success

Aug 19, 2020

Associate Producer Rebekah Nolan explores "Girls Who Fish" a program designed to attract girls and women to become involved in Newfoundland's commercial fishery. Nolan says, "fishing is the thing that brought the first settlers from England and Ireland about 400 years ago, and it continues to be a vital part of the province’s economy."

This show was originally broadcast May 17, 2017 and is reposted as a “best-of-the-best” podcast in celebration of Journeys of Discovery’s 31st anniversary producing on-air and digital media podcasts featured on NPR affiliate KCBX and NPR One.

What was initially a local and sustainable industry, transformed into an industrialized megalith that was feeding people all over the world. Overfishing, along with other environmental and political factors, eventually led to the Cod Moratorium in 1992. Nolan says, "The moratorium was a tragedy for both the Newfoundland economy, and way of life. The fishery used to be accessible to everyone, and it formed a vital part of the Newfoundlander identity."


Today, most people are only allowed to fish a few weeks out of the year, during what is known locally as the Food Fishery. The heavy regulations have made it hard to pass on the traditional fishing practices of Newfoundland to the Province’s youth.


Kimberley Orren, of The Island Rooms of Petty Harbour, started the Girls Who Fish program specifically to teach Newfoundland children about traditional ways of fishing. Orren has stepped into the role of tradition bearer, passing on the knowledge that the kids would have learned from their parents and grandparents if they had lived before the moratorium.  


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