In History’s Wake: The Last Trap Fishermen of Rhode Island

In History’s Wake: The Last Trap Fishermen of Rhode Island

A film by Markham Starr : Based on the Book

Thursday, October 17 at 6:00 p.m.

Film by Markham Starr:  In History's Wake: The Trap Fishermen of Rhode Island

 

For as long as people have lived along Rhode Island’s meandering coast, the ocean has provided them with a ready supply of food. Whether Native American or European transplants, fishermen sought to move beyond capturing individual fish to ensnaring entire schools. Searching for increasingly efficient ways to capture their prey, the trapping technologies invented evolved over time, and primitive stake traps gave way to fykes and weirs, much as they had along the entire New England coast. Fishermen from Rhode Island experimented with new designs capable of withstanding the punishing wind and waves, eventually creating this unique floating trap system. Today only three companies still use this ancient but effective technique. This film covers the last of the floating trap companies in Rhode Island. This fishery, going back over 150 years, once blanketed the state’s coastline, but was quickly abandoned with the advent of the modern trawler. The film follows the three companies throughout one season as they build and fish their 1500’ long traps. This is the film version of the book by the same name, published by Wesleyan University Press.