It’s heartening to learn that two organizations, Penobscot Bay Watch in Rockland and Project Gutenberg, a national effort to make significant books available free on-line to the public, are taking an interest in historic fisheries data.
Portions of the reports of the U.S. Fisheries Commission are already available and there’s more to come. These reports, some dating to the 19th century, include a wealth of information, much of it gathered in old-fashioned ways such as through interviews with experienced fishermen. At the Island Institute we have made use of Fisheries Commission data in the past, including marvelous maps of inshore and Gulf of Maine spawning areas that we were able to compare with more recent information to learn how much has been lost through poor management and overfishing. The Project Gutenberg material includes reports on salmon runs as well as groundfish.

While many of these reports have remained in print over the years, they’ve tended to reside on dusty shelves, largely unknown except to researchers. Now, via the Internet, they will be available at two more visible spots: at and at Everyone, including the fish, will benefit.