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Impact of Grand Banks on Europe and America

Updated on January 21, 2016
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Rebecca Graf is a seasoned writer with nearly a decade of experience and degrees in accounting, history, and creative writing.

The Grand Banks has been known for the vast resource of fishing it has provided. So much has been talked about it, but more has been focused on the severe depletion of fish that has occurred due to overfishing. Something that has been neglected is more of the discovery of it and the impact it had on Europe. It played a major role in the settlement of the New World.

Officially, John Cabot is credited with the discovery of the Grand Banks during one of his voyages to the New World in search of the Northwest Passage. He found that fish were caught almost without trying in the area. He had never seen so many fish in one place. A treasure trove for Europe he had stumbled upon. Though history gives him that honor, the truth is that there were others who had discovered the area but managed to keep it a secret. Only through John Cabot did this area become known throughout Europe, and the secret of its resources was blown wide open.

Bounty of Fish

Scandinavian explorers and fishermen knew the Grand Banks very well. The bounty was shared with them many times, helping them produce strong generations.

Once the rest of Europe got wind of this discovery after Cabot returned to Europe, fishermen risked the unknown waters to see if it could be true. Was there really that many fish to be taken by man? It was more than they had dreamed of. Word spread like wildfire, and fishermen from every country made their way to the Grand Banks. There was more fish than any ocean could hold there. It was a dream come true for a highly concentrated population. Who wouldn't rush to gather the fish and feed their people? Europeans were starving, It would have been foolish not to take advantage of such abundant resources.

Food Was Needed

What made this so special? Europe was an area with a huge population. The land was being eaten up by the need for more houses, and people were crammed into small living quarters around waters that were quickly becoming polluted. It needed food, and the sea seemed to have an unlimited supply. To find a place where fish seemed to multiply before the eyes was a miracle. The masses in Europe could be fed. The Grand Banks gave Europe a food source that was desperately needed. In turn, this helped the economy. The number of ships looking for fish increased and the number of people employed to bring the fish home increased.

Economically things looked up. Europe was finding new resources and the food needed to feed the masses. It was an answer to prayers.


It also gave Europeans more reason to leave and see what the New World had to offer. This was just a sampling of what was in store for them. They discovered that there was a place to find room and not be constantly being shoved by the masses. The Grand Banks became a gateway for immigrants. It was almost a breath of fresh air for those who wanted to get away from the close quarters and unsanitary cities of Europe. Hope presented itself to those who had none in the Old World.

The New World was indeed a world of plenty and beckoned those with no hope to venture forth and make a new home and a new future.

So Much to Offer

The Grand Banks was a lure (pardon the pun) to many Europeans. If the New World could offer such a wonderful supply of foods, what more was there to see? The Grand Banks helped to bring more settlers to the New World which led to further exploration and some population relief from Europe. It was a gift to mankind that unfortunately has not been well taken care of over the years.

In short, the Grand Banks helped to colonize America while giving Europe hope for the future. What they didn't realize was the long-term impact they would have. Quickly, the resources diminished including the bounty of the Grand Banks. It still is a place to find an abundance of fish, but the numbers are drastically lower than it was during the early years of New World colonization.

The glory of the Grand Banks still shines, just not as bright.


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