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Portsmouth Commercial Fishing Industry

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Portsmouth fisherman
Portsmouth fisherman navigates boat through the Piscataqua River, under the 1921 Memorial Bridge. Credit: Jeremy Heflin

With increasing federal restrictions on commercial fishing, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is on the verge of losing its once-active fishing industry. As Portsmouth becomes a city of second homes and condominiums, fishing families are no longer able to make a living in the once productive port. Young fishermen have little incentive to begin careers in the industry. Unlike fishing communities in Maine and Massachusetts, Portsmouth fishermen are not part of an ethnic group that preserves their tradition, and as a result, the twentieth-century history of seacoast fishing in this area is fading away. Historic New England staff captured the stories of the hard-working people who make up this fast-disappearing community through interviews and photographs of the fisherman at work and in their homes. Highlights of the project were displayed at the Discover Portsmouth Center.

Listen to select oral histories:

Read select transcriptions (PDF):

Please note that the opinions expressed in these oral histories are those of the interview subjects, and not Historic New England. For more information, e-mail community engagement at Historic New England.


Gov. John Langdon House
New Hampshire Commercial Fisherman's Association

Portsmouth Commercial Fishing Industry