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I known fishing was pretty popular in the middle-age.

But I don't know how many people could be fed by a single fisher?

I'd like to know it mostly for river fishing but I'm also interested by sea fishing. I'm thinking about small villages with local fishing to ensure food supply.

Context:

  • Period: Early Middle age
  • Location: Small isolated village (~250 people)
  • Environment: Large river with plenty of fish

I'm looking for an average number (don't take in account the competition factor).

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    This would certainly depend on the quality of the fishery versus the number of competing fisherman and technology (and by extension time period/location). – Semaphore Jul 10 '15 at 8:48
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    Geography? Culture and food habits play an important role. In "watery" regions more fish would be eaten. Would this not be a supply side determinant? – Rajib Jul 10 '15 at 16:25
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    From what I have been told of the 1900's and 1910's in the Pyrenees (traditional society with little contact to the outside world) diet was not based on, but complemented by fishing. In the MA, for religious reasons fish was a necessary part of the diet (Fridays, Lent...). But the basic diet seems to have been based on agriculture (grain, replaced by potatoes in the XVI-XVII centuries), with fishing as a complement specifically for protein since little meat was available to large strata of society. – ALAN WARD Jul 11 '15 at 10:29
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    I believe that competition between fishermen begins when the number exceeds 1. – Mark C. Wallace Jul 13 '15 at 10:37
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    @MarkC.Wallace - Such cultural reasons not to eat from an easily available source of food just remain in place while of there is plenty of alternative sources. A bit of hunger helps a lot on changing those cultural reasons unless they are very strong (e.g. religious). – Pere Jan 27 '19 at 16:20
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In the year 1289, King Philip IV of France was worried about fish. “Each and every watershed of our realm,” he proclaimed, “large and small, yields nothing due to the evil of fishers.”

(The Atlantic (2019)

The medieval period is much too long to provide a definitive answer to your question. Besides, there often wasn't such a thing as 'a single fisher'. Often enough, you'd see fishing villages, villages that exported fish. Or fishing guilds. Fishing families. Especially seaside when requiring a boat to fish. You don't operate a fishing boat by yourself. When setting fishing traps and weirs with a group of people, how much was caught by whom?

When you consider river fish, you probably won't catch the same fish year-round. During the summer months, salmon moves up the river to spawn. The more watermills were built, the less salmon was caught.

Some of what we know about medieval fishery comes from the area of Colchester (UK), near the river Colne and relatively near the Channel. There has been fishery in all kinds of forms since at least 800 AD, years later they even had their own oysters. In (and after) the late medieval period, small wars have been fought about fishing rights and over-fishing there. If you're looking for historical records, I'd think that area to be a good start. Perhaps the Domesday Book has usable information for you as well.

How much fish they'd actually catch would depend on many factors, among which the amount of organization, their tools used (hooks, nets and traps were already used quite extensively in some places during the middle medieval period) and the local fish-population (which would vary quite a bit).

In the end, it matters not. You ask:

But I don't know how many people could be fed by a single fisher?

Not many. If fish would be all they ate, they'd eventually die of malnutrition. They would require bread as well. So you'd need a farmer, and hunter/gatherers both for hunting mammals/fowl and gathering fruit/vegetables.

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