New Book | Fainas Épicas do Mar Português

14 june, 2022≈ 4 min read

Álvaro Garrido

Fainas Épicas do Mar Português

CTT Editions, 288 pages

With associated philatelic edition

At a time when the “new economy of the sea” seems to forget the human and social dimension of maritime life that marks the coastal landscape, this edition invokes three great tasks of the Portuguese sea: cod fishing in Newfoundland and Greenland, hunting whale watching in the Azores islands and tuna fishing with traps on the Algarve coast. In a cultural history register, the book includes a preliminary essay on representations of Portugal's relationship with the sea and a state of the art on the historical study of fisheries and their images in social memory. This is followed by three monographic chapters on the three selected fisheries, a conclusions section and a bibliography.

An economic activity linked to the exploitation of the living resources of the sea, fisheries are an area of ​​maritime culture whose heritage is fragile. Precisely for this reason, and due to lack of knowledge, fisheries and sea activities, in general, are the object of persistent mythos.

The works of the sea whose imagery has taken on an epic sense are full of superlative images, a certain primitivism or cruel beauty. This is the case of the large transatlantic fisheries and other civil tasks that involved long journeys of navigation and real risk communities. The odyssey traces of the three great tasks analyzed in this book created a legendary dimension and aroused an international curiosity, which grew as these activities languished and as time condemned them to disappearance.

The cod fishing by the mythical “white fleet”, which marked generations and generations of fishermen throughout the Portuguese coast, whaling off the islands of the Azores and tuna fishing in the old traps launched on the Algarve coast are eloquent examples. of this tremendous cultural heritage.

Civilian fishing activities all implied great human ingenuity, discipline and fearlessness in an institutional framework that led to the unrestricted appropriation of resources. Not by chance, they all ended in the seventies of the 20th century, in a context of great change in the Law of the Sea, when new scientific perceptions about the use of marine resources emerged and, not by chance, when the dictatorship of Salazar and Caetano collapsed.

All these tasks have a strong expression in the collective memory that remained of Portugal's relationship with the sea, but they all ask for new interpretations of meaning, in an educational logic and in a critical perspective that can go beyond the myth.

Aimed at a vast universe of readers and written in Portuguese and English, this book inscribes in the public space memories of human work associated with the great tasks of the sea in its connection with its coastal territories: Azores (fishing/whaling); ports on the west coast of Portugal (cod fishing); beaches of the Eastern Algarve (tuna). In a beautifully illustrated edition, the book portrays each of the tasks of the sea in its most unique aspects: historical origins, economic and social organization, work relationships, cultural images and symbolic imagery. It is a book that reconciles science with culture and adds a sociocultural dimension to the current debate on the resources of the sea and the environmental role of the Oceans.

Álvaro Garrido is a Full Professor at FEUC and its current Director. Researcher at CEIS20, he has a vast body of work published on topics of economic and institutional history and contemporary maritime history. He has recently published the following books: As Pescas em Portugal (Lisbon, FFMS, 2018); The Social Economy on the Move. A History of Organizations (Lisbon, Tinta da China, 2018); We want a New Economy! Estado Novo and Corporatism (Porto Alegre, EDIPUCRS, 2018); Too Valuable to be Lost: Overfishing in the North Atlantic since 1880 (De Gruyter, Berlin, 2020); Il Portogallo di Salazar. Politics, Società, Economy (Bologna University Press, 2020, in co-authorship with Fernando Rosas).