Anglo-French War


Coming so soon after the massive market collapse of the late 1780s, the wars had a devastating effect on the migratory fishery. The raid by Admiral de Richery in 1796 caused panic and some damage. In the same year, Spain entered the war as an ally of France, and closed its markets to British trade. British saltfish could enter Spain clandestinely through Portugal, but this caused so much fish to pass through Portuguese entry ports that prices there were driven down. And when Portugal was threatened by invasion in 1800, that market became too unreliable for merchants in the fish trade. As a result, merchants increased the volume of fish sent to the West Indies. Overall, export levels remained reasonably high (400,000 quintals in 1800), but trade conditions generally were poor, particularly since there was growing competition from Scandinavian countries as well as from the more familiar Americans, who were exporting nearly as much fish at this time as the British.