Red Snapper Industry Analysis

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Red Snapper Industry of Pensacola
Critical to understanding the eventual development of the fishing industry in Pensacola is recognizing the city’s geographical location and land features. In Hawkshaw: Prehistory and History in an Urban Neighborhood in Pensacola, Florida, the environmental setting is laid bare. A major land shaping force in the area is the Gulf of Mexico. During the Pleistocene Era, the sea level was 300 feet lower than it is today due to “glacial episodes.” Due to the low sea level, streams and rivers extended far out to the continental shelf, and cut deeper into their valleys. Sand would flow into these crevices from upstream, leading to the development of barrier islands. Also typified by this time period were the southern
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“Well smacks” were a specialized type of smack that contained a live well, allowing greater ease in transporting fish to market. While live wells did prove useful in the short term, it was well known by this time that ice could preserve fish for far longer than a live well. Ships were soon just equipped with an ice chest as opposed to a live well in order to save room and maximize profits. The problem was that ice was expensive. Natural ice was brought down to Pensacola from Maine via schooner. It cost about 2 cents per pound; combined with the cost of transportation and time this was too much to bear, limiting the market. The first step into a true “Red Snapper industry” came with the Pensacola Ice Company in 1869. The Ice Company was founded by Sewall C. Cobb and Major John C. Ruse. The Pensacola Ice Company originally had no boats, and just supplied ice to fishermen and other clients. The Pensacola Ice Company then created an offshoot called the Pensacola Fish Company, gradually building up a fleet of vessels. Ruse died soon after starting the company, and his share was bought out by Andrew F. Warren. Warren and Cobb’s fishing company suffered from very humble beginnings, and was forced to operate only in the summer because they had to use New Englanders for labor . Eventually, Pensacola Fish Company purchased their own smack, called the J.W. Wherrin in 1879. A year later, the Pensacola Fish Company was able to purchase the Ripple, another smack. A.F. Warren and his brother in law Silas Stearns separated from Pensacola Ice Company in 1880, forming Warren & Co. Warren & Co. operated five fishing vessels and chartered one. The only major competition faced by Warren & Co. was E.E. Saunders & Co., which operated two smacks by 1885. E.E. Saunders and Co. would come to employ 1,000 men, operating both ice and fish houses, eventually

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