Commercial fishery at the Danube and its tributaries in the region of Eferding
The region of Eferding in Upper Austria is located at the river Danube and traversed by the stream’s tributaries. Due to its location, it offered ideal conditions for fishing for centuries. The region’s commercial fishery has been based on the natural richness in fish, which was due to the presence of different kinds of habitat. The river regulation measures implemented in the 19th century altered the habitat negatively for fish populations. The induced lack of periodically occurring floods and icing events and the resulting removal of deposited sediments led to increased accumulation of mud and to a subsequent loss of valuable fishing areas.
This article provides a comprehensive description of the region’s commercial fishery (both as main occupation and side-line), and of the fishing industry and professional fishers. Focus is put on the structures and developments of commercial fishing, as well as on the lives of the professionals, by taking economic, legal, cultural and ecological factors influencing this history into account. Topics include the natural conditions of the study area and its changes, fish stocks, ownership and utilisation issues, fish district borders, the fishing guild of Eferding, the social and economic situation as well as the education, living conditions and clothing of the fishermen of Eferding. Furthermore the issues of women and fishery, the usage and processing of fish as food, religion, tales, fishing tools and methods, transportation, storage and selling of fish and manufacturing and maintenance of the fishing equipment are described.
The covered period reaches from the first documentary mention of a local fisherman around 1200 to the end of commercial fishing in the 1970s. Territorial limitations of the article to certain sections of Aschach, Innbach and the Danube can be explained by historical developments in the region, and are defined by the historic borders of the fish waters of the former demesnes Schaunberg and the castle Eferding.
The results are based on interviews, on observations of work processes, the screening of collections of equipment and photographic material and on archival research, especially material from the Fisher’s guild of Eferding.