Your cart is empty.

Fishing Measures

A Critique of Desk-Bound Reason

By Daniel Banoub
Categories: History, Economics, Food Studies
Series: Social and Economic Studies
Series Number: 89
Paperback : 9781894725972, 264 pages, December 2021

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)

An investigation into the economic, political, and scientific history of the saltfishery in Newfoundland.


  • Short-listed, Newfoundland and Labrador Book Award, Non-Fiction 2023


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 assessment of Newfoundland's fisheries...combining fine-grained historical research with Marxist conceptual analysis.

- Michael Fabinyi, AAG Review of Books

Infinitely readable and relevant in an era of diminishing natural resources in seemingly every realm, Fishing Measures chronicles the ways in which so-called scientific experts attempted to improve Newfoundland’s saltfish industry. Author Daniel Banoub’s deeply researched dive into the emergence of cod liver oil as a vitamin packed curative for (especially) children is sure to trigger memories for everyone who shuddered when a spoonful of the concoction approached their lips.

- Jury, Newfoundland and Labrador Book Awards