4. For example, the fishermen who used cod traps (introduced in the latter 19th Century), tried to have more than one trap and, if necessary moved the traps around during the short summer season in order to reduce the risks of failure. Most inshore fishermen also maintained a diversified fishery. If the trap season was a failure, they were prepared for a late summer, eariv fall fishing season using handlines, long-lines, and gill-nets. Where possible, fishermen also put out pots for lobsters, set nets for salmon, and jigged and seined for capelin, herring, and mackerel. In the spring they often hunted seals.
If local fishing proved poor for an extended period, some might go to distant shores, such as the Labrador coast, to fish. Fishermen also coped by engaging in what sociologists call "occupational pluralism," finding work in logging, highway maintenance, or construction, even when that required long-distance migration. From the 1960s on inshore fishermen began to invest in vessels and gear that enabled a more diversified, mobile strategy and reduced their dependence on the inshore migrations of cod. Central to this was adoption of a larger vessel, called wlongliner," the use of nylon and then monofilament gill-nets, and the slow but steady development of markets for products other than salt cod.
Finally, the larger political economic system had its own buffers, some of which imposed severe constraints on fishermen. One of those was the "truck" system whereby a season's catch was mortgaged to a local fish buyer against the costs of outfitting for the season plus, in many cases, the costs of feeding and clothing one's family. In this system, merchants, most of them "factors" for companies based in the capital, St. John's, or in England, minimized their risks and maximized their profits by leaving the risky business of catching and curing fish to the fishing families while dictating both the price of the fish they bought and the goods they sold. This system of de facto indentured servitude to the local merchant and fish-buyer lasted in muted forms into the 1940s, when Newfoundland emerged from bankruptcy and royal receivership to become a province of Canada and participant in an industrialized welfare state.
The government provided some buffers, including poor-relief and Wwinter works projects," are a perennial feature of Newfoundland outport adaptation. When Newfoundland, more-or-less independent since 1855, joined Canada in 1949, it gained a generous package of transfer payments providing social security to families and the elderly. More to the point, in 1954 the federal government enacted a special system of unemployment insurance, for nominally 'self-employed' fishermen, that helped mitigate the ups-and-downs of the inshore fishery. These buffers were extremely important to the survival and even growth of the outports of Newfoundland, but also contributed to their vulnerability in some ways, including the intensification of dependency with its many costs (Hanrahan 1988).