Newfoundland has three chief sources of income which are directly based upon the utilization of natural resources, namely: the fisheries, the forests and the mines. The soil, which is a fourth great natural resource in the other provinces of Canada, does not contribute greatly to the wealth of Newfoundland for agriculture remains in an undeveloped condition.
Ever since its discovery, Newfoundland has been dependent upon its fisheries for the major portion of its wealth. The shallow waters of the Grand Banks simply team with fish and the ports of Newfoundland are closer than those of any other land. The cod is the most important fish, but other species including salmon, herring, halibut, turbot and lobsters add to the commercial catch while caplin and squid are taken for bait. Whaling and sealing are additional industries.
The codfishery of Newfoundland is divided into three branches: the inshore, the "Bank" or deep sea, and the Labrador fishery.
The shore fishery is carried on from all the small coves and harbours which indent the island. Normally it accounts for about three-fourths of the entire catch.
Inshore fishing is usually carried on within six miles of the shore by means of dories or small boats powered by 3 to 4 H. P. motors. The fish are caught by hand lines, trawl lines, "bulltows" or codnets. Larger boats, 25 to 28 feet long with 8 to 10 H.P. motors are used to operate cod traps. These are large square nets, set on the shoals near the headlands, capable of taking 60,000 pounds of fish at a single haul. The fish are split and cured on shore. The "flake", or rough platform upon which the fish are dried, is a familiar sight in every cove.
The Labrador fishery is carried on from June to October along the coast of Labrador. The migratory fishermen fall into two classes: the "stationers" who establish temporary quarters on shore, and the "floaters" who operate from their schooners and follow the fish from place to place. The permanent inhabitants of Labrador are known as "liveyers" (live-heres) to distinguish them from the summer fishermen. The Bank fisheries are those prosecuted on the Grand Banks and other fishing grounds on the Continental Shelf which lies to the south of Newfoundland and the Maritime Provinces. In company with those from the latter areas, as well as from the United States and some western European countries, Newfoundland sends a fleet of schooners and trawlers to the Banks.