The highly cyclical 20th century Newfoundland and Labrador shore-station whaling industry began in 1898 and ended in 1972. Well-defined catching peaks were evident during 1903-05, 1925-39, 1945-51, and 1966-72. Contributing factors to the periodic declines were ineffective management regulations, overexploitation of the various stocks of baleen whales, low capital investment, high station operating costs, prohibitive expenditures on new stations and catchers, and volatile markets and prices for the oil, bone, and by-products. Although not a major contributor to the overall economy, the industry provided important local seasonal employment.
Twenty-one stations operated for varying periods of time throughout the seventy -four year period, and processed almost twenty thousand animals. The first was established at Snooks Arm in Notre Dame Bay by the Cabot Steam Whaling Co. Ltd, a consortium of local and Norwegian investors. Most of the whales caught where baleen whales, particularly fin whales (66%). In latter years, significant numbers of pothead and minke whales were also taken, primarily as a source of meat for an expanding fur farming industry in the Conception and Trinity bays. The Government of Canada placed a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1972, whereupon the last two stations at Dildo and Williamsport closed. Little evidence of the whaling stations now remains. A growing tourism industry includes a significant whale-watching component which must also be carefully regulated to prevent adverse affects on the whale stocks which migrate through Newfoundland and Labrador waters between their more equatorial calving and colder feeding grounds.