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Week 11 - Fishing

[ View the related 'Weekly Post': Week 11 - Fishing ]

We read in the John Pirie journal this week about the sighting of flying fish and a shark. The crew were keen to catch the shark, but were unsuccessful, as the captain throws the bait overboard without a line attached. The men made fun of this event, causing a ‘hearty laugh’ amongst them. The shark’s life was spared this time.   A pair of shark jaws showing razor sharp teeth

The world’s oceans cover 71% of the earth’s surface and are an ecosystem made up of plant and animal life, ranging from the whales, sharks and other large predators at the top of the food chain to the smallest forms of life in coral and plankton. The balance of life within this ecosystem is dependent on a number of factors, including water temperature, climate change and human actions. Since 1836, the world’s population has increased significantly and the fragile ocean ecosystem has been affected by the advances in technology and actions of people across the globe.


Inquiry Questions:

  • The John Pirie journal makes reference to flying fish. There is debate as to whether these were flying fish, or just fish jumping out of the water. What species of fish would they have most likely seen in their current location?
  • How is the sighting of fish and a shark of use to the crew and passengers?
  • How has technology changed the way fishing occurs today?

Research Topics:

  • Would fish have been a staple part of the diet of passengers onboard these vessels in 1836? Who would try and catch the fish and who would eat these fish?
  • You are a recreational angler from the 19th century. Research the clothes would you have been wearing and the materials your fishing tools would have been made from. How do these compare with the clothing and tools of recreational anglers today? 
  • How would a person’s location influence the type of tools made and used for fishing in the 1800’s? Compare the tools used by an indigenous group and those of a middle class English person during this time.

Historical Skills:

Chronology, terms and concepts
  • Define the term ‘angler.’
  • Examine the differences between recreational and commercial fishing.
  • Research how technology has changed fishing tools and techniques over the years. Develop a timeline that includes images and information to show the significant changes that have occurred. Write a concluding paragraph that states your opinion on these changes.
Historical questions and research
  • How have fishing practices changed since 1836?
  • How have advances in technology impacted on these changes?

Analysis and use of sources
Access information about fishing from a range of sources and agencies. Email or make a phone call to a government agency that is able to answer inquiry questions and clarify information about fishing in South Australia today
Perspectives and interpretations
  • Why do some Christians eat fish on  Fridays?
  • Record how a scientist, an angler, a fishmonger, a marine biologist, a consumer (customer), a child and a fish and chip shop owner would respond to the following statement: “The government has decided to reduce the amount of fish you are allowed to catch.”
  • How has climate change impacted on the marine ecosystems of the world? Read the CSIRO report. Do you agree with this?

Explanation and communication
  • Do you think there were laws regarding the size and maximum numbers of fish people were allowed to catch in 1836? The current fishing laws in South Australia allow recreational anglers to catch a maximum number of fish within a 24 hour time period. What are these regulations? Debate this issue with your class; do you think these limits are fair?
  • Research a species of fish that interests you and write either a Haiku or Cinquain poem to describe it.

Activity Suggestions:

1.    Cheap Norwegian ice and the establishment of the railway meant that fish became more readily available to the English population in the 19th century. Fresh sea fish was sold in the markets of towns and cities across Britain. It was more affordable for the working class and became a staple part of their diet. Did you know that the first fish and chip shop opened in London in 1860? Find or create a recipe that contains fish. Cost and purchase the ingredients required. Follow the instructions to prepare and cook the meal. Serve the dish to your family and ask for feedback about the quality of your cooking.

2.    The Australian Marine Conservation Society states that “three times the amount of rubbish is dumped into the world’s oceans annually as the weight of fish caught.” Create a 30 second television commercial or community service announcement that educates others about the effect of rubbish on marine life.

3.    Commercial fishing is a contentious topic of debate, with the United Nations Environment Branch calculating that if humans continue to overfish the world’s oceans, the fish stocks could become extinct by 2050. What is your opinion on this? Which country has the largest fishing industry? Unpack how this would affect this country if fishing in the ocean was banned? 

4.    Tuna is a popular fish consumed today, eaten fresh or in a processed form in tins. Research the techniques used to catch tuna and write a procedural text to show the process it goes through, from the ocean to your dinner plate.  

5.    A diet rich in fish and seafood is good for you, providing your body with Omega-3 fats that are essential for normal growth, development and ongoing health at every stage of your life. Research the health benefits of eating fish and products that contain Omega 3. How would eating fish have helped the passengers onboard the John Pirie? How much Omega 3 does the Australian government suggest children eat daily? Present an oral presentation to encourage other children to eat fish and products containing Omega-3.

What if?

The crew onboard the John Pirie had caught the shark. Who would have eaten it and how would it have been cooked?

What do you think?

The topic of marine parks is a hot topic of discussion at present. Read the information on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources website. Is there a need to set up more marine parks in South Australia.

Stay Tuned:

Next week the John Pirie observes a suspicious vessel. What type of vessel is it and will they make contact? Join us next week to learn about a very real danger at sea that still exists today. 

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Shark jaws. South Australian Maritime Museum collection. HT94.523(m).

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