- Annalisa Marzano
Fishing was an economically important activity in the classical world. Some communities owed their prosperity to the exploitation of bountiful fisheries and the trade in salted fish and fish sauces or the manufacture of products such as purple dye made from sea molluscs. Salted or pickled fish products supplemented a subsistence diet, while specific types of fresh fish were costly and sought after as status enhancers. Marine fishing rights were not the object of monopolies since in ancient Greece and Rome the sea was seen as something held in common. In practice, ownership of coastal fishing installations and control of specialist knowledge related to fishing were ways in which one could exercise control over fishing rights. In contrast, inland bodies of water could be held as private property and exclusive fishing rights to them could be claimed. Fishermen specialized in specific fishing techniques and formed professional associations. In the Roman imperial era, fishing activity and the trade in fish products increased.
- Ancient Economy
Updated in this version
Article rewritten to reflect current scholarship.