The cod Fishery has been the major industry of Newfoundland for of its history and even in the industrialized twentieth century is still of considerable importance.
Shortly after their discovery in 1497 the Newfoundland waters became an important source of cod fish for the European nations. These markets were at first supplied by Europeans themselves who visited the Island and its waters every spring and returned to their homelands in the fall. By 1800, however, Newfoundland had developed an important resident fishery of her own and most of the European fishermen had, for some time, been obliged to do all their fishing on the ‘Grand Banks’ off the Island’s Southeast coast. France was the major exception in this regard for that nation retained fishing rights on most of the West and North coasts of the Island until 1904.