The importance of the Atlantic cod through history can hardly be overemphasized. For the past 1,000 years, the capture, preparation, and distribution of the cod has influenced the development of Western Civilization, especially around the perimeter of the North Atlantic Ocean. The Vikings crossed the Atlantic in pursuit of the cod. The Basques turned the cod into a commercial product in medieval times. Cape Cod was named in honor of the cod in 1602. The cod has actually been the cause of wars between countries, from American colonial times to recent conflicts between Iceland and Great Britain in the twentieth century. Newfoundland was settled by Irish and English natives in the early eighteenth century, largely because of opportunities in the cod fishery. Throughout most of the nineteenth century, this fishery was the most important source of employment and income for people in Newfoundland and much of Eastern Canada. In 1992, the cod population nearly reached a point of commercial extinction in waters off eastern
Canada and Newfoundland, and a fishing moratorium was imposed. This moratorium has removed the main source of employment and income for thousands of fishermen from hundreds of small fishing communities and has truly devastated the Canadian economy. ♦
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