National Fisherman


National Fisherman is the nation’s preeminent publication in the commercial fishing industry, originally a consolidation of earlier, regional fisheries trade papers. In 2012, Diversified Communications of Portland, ME, donated the magazine’s entire pre-digital photographic archive to the Penobscot Marine Museum. The collection is being digitized and cataloged, then published to the web in our online database in groups of 5000 items.

With the museum’s busy season ended, it’s time to reveal our latest digitization efforts on this collection to the world. The new group of 5000 images is live now; click here to view them.

This group represents hundreds of hours of work by curatorial volunteers and staff. As we sifted through these photos, several new themes emerged. We turned three of these into search categories. They are:


These small, oily fish, caught by encircling a school with a seine, are found in the US in our Gulf waters and from Florida to Nova Scotia. Also known as pogies, they’re used as bait or rendered for oil and meal, but you’ll never find them on your plate in a restaurant.


In downeast Maine and the Canadian Maritimes, the pronunciation is WARES. This is a prehistoric technology, used sparsely still in modern times. They were (and are) built in estuaries or tidal inlets from wooden poles strung with nets or, historically, unstripped branches whose twigs were interwoven. They’re designed to catch fish as they follow the tides and become trapped. We built a full-size replica of a fish weir on the museum’s front lawn this past spring.


Sailboats are generally described by their rig, not their purpose or hull type. A ketch has a two masted rig with the forward mast (the mainmast) taller than the after one (the mizzen). The mizzen is ahead of the rudder and steering station. In the National Fisherman collection, you will find ketch rigged yachts and fishing craft, with most of the fishing boats being sail assisted to save fuel. The yachts were often types that were not written up in the regular yachting press in the 60s and 70s.

The National Fisherman photos are a visual record of every nuance of American commercial fishing during four decades, from the 1950s to the 1990s. The collection features images of fishing and working vessels of numerous types, under construction, at launch, at sea, and in peril. We get a thorough glimpse of the many human faces of the industry: boat builders, fish catchers, processors, and regulators. Since the magazine is a trade publication, there are countless photos of fishing and marine gear as it was newly hitting the market, as well as examples of common vessel construction techniques. We see documentation of successes or failures in the various fisheries, as well as scenes of regulation activity and enforcement.

In a letter to the Penobscot Marine Museum, John Bullard, the NOAA Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office administrator, observed that the magazine and its photo archives are of “…great national historical significance because it documents a critical period in the history of U.S. fishing. During these four decades, the commercial fishing industry saw significant growth and technological change…” These epic changes affected every facet of US fisheries, from vessel construction to fish finding equipment to legislation impacting the livelihoods of thousands of fishermen on both coasts.

Searches By Topic

This feature is a browsing tool designed to introduce visitors who may not be familiar with the National Fisherman Collection. Click on a topic below to narrow your search.


Featured Image of the Week

The three-masted bark-rigged CARTHAGINIAN was used in a 1960s movie, but had been a cargo schooner in her youth.

The Long Colorful Life of the CARTHAGINIAN

When the builders of the schooner Wandia launched her in Denmark in 1921, they couldn’t have imagined that she’d get a moment in the limelight. She was a workhorse for many years; she began by hauling cargo in the Baltic Sea for her original owner, a Captain Petersen. Later, she fished in Iceland for a short time before crossing the Atlantic and trying her hand again at cargo in Central America. This was an unprofitable venture, and her next owner was likely thinking outside the box when he purchased her.

R. Tucker Thompson quickly resold the coaster to American film producers the Mirisch Company in 1964, and like a dedicated actor who radically transforms herself for a part, Wandia was expertly refitted to resemble a 19th century New Bedford whaler for her role in the 1966 picture Hawaii, a screen version of the 1959 novel by James Michener. The new 3-masted bark was renamed Carthaginian.

When the film was complete, Thompson bought her back and for a short time shuffled his life to Hilo, HI, where he’d negotiated her sale to a non-profit and agreed to serve as her captain and the curator of the whaling museum she briefly housed. When this venture folded in 1968, Thompson left and the Carthaginian resumed her life as a working vessel for a time. She ran aground near Oahu in April 1973, where she was ultimately scuttled.

Photo by Les Hamm, 1966

Who owns the rights to the images and how do I get permission to use them?

The National Fisherman photographs were typically licensed to the magazine for one-time use. Although the Penobscot Marine Museum has Fair Use rights to the images, if you wish to publish, transmit, use electronic copies, or receive a paper copy of any of these photographs, you will need to

1. obtain written permission from the copyright holder and determine what, if any, fees apply to usage, and
2. provide PMM with a copy of the document granting permission.

We provide information regarding copyright owners if such information is available. If you are a copyright holder for images in our catalog and your name and contact information do not appear with the catalog record(s), or if you feel we have used your work without permission, please contact us:

Penobscot Marine Museum
5 Church St. PO Box 498
Searsport, ME 04974
(207) 548-2529


This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this online exhibit do not necessarily represent those of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.


This project has been financed (in part) with Federal funds from the National Maritime Heritage program, administered by the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. However, the contents and opinions contained herein do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of the Interior, nor does the mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Department of the Interior.

This program received Federal financial assistance for preservation of historic maritime resources and for increasing public awareness and appreciation for the maritime heritage of the United States. Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, as amended, the U.S. Department of the Interior prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability or age in its federally funded assisted programs. If you believe you have been discriminated again in any program, activity, or facility as described above, or if you desire further information, please write to: Office of Equal Opportunity National Park Service 1849 C Street, NW Washington, DC 20240


The Penobscot Marine Museum is extremely grateful to Diversified Communications of Portland, Maine for entrusting us with the long-term preservation of the National Fisherman photographic archive.

Many thanks to our volunteers Robyn Cornell, Mark Nicklawske, Amanda Strusz, Chris Olsson, and Ellen Holland, who have given hundreds of hours of their time to digitizing this collection; their contribution is endlessly valuable.

We also profusely thank our catalogers, Faith Garrold and Cathy Pollari, who have worked painstakingly to research, collate and record information about the photographs in our database.

We are pleased to invite the public to use and enjoy this resource.