Construction and History of the Fishery Harbor I

The southern bank of the River Geeste was the first place where the Geestemünde-based fish industry began to unfold. On this spot, the Historical Museum Bremerhaven is now situated. Roughly at that spot the first English steam trawler PRINCE CONSORT called in 1882 equipped with new and promising technology. This was adapted in 1885, when the first German steam trawler SAGITTA was built at the Friedrich Wilhelm Wencke shipyard in Bremerhaven for the Geestemünde ship-owner Friedrich Busse (1835-1898). After these beginnings, local and regional fish industry saw steady growth. The first fish auction in Geestemünde took place in June 1888, in Bremerhaven in February 1892. Both towns saw fierce, but nevertheless fruitful competition during the coming decades. In 1895, 28 deep-sea fishing vessels were registered at Geestemünde.

The area on the Geeste banks having become too narrow, the State of Prussia had the first basin of the fishery port area constructed from 1891 to 1896. At that time, the basin, costing 7.323 million Deutschmarks, was still dependent on tidal conditions. The design was by the Geestemünde construction engineer Theodor Hoebel (1832-1908). The basin (1200 metres long, 60 metres wide and 4.40 metres deep) had an uneven shape and was linked with the River Lune, a tributary of the River Weser. On November 1st 1896, the basin was inaugurated in a special ceremony. The port was run by the Fischereihafen-Betriebsgenossenschaft (FBG), an association of the major firms of the local fish industry.

The central part of the facilities was no doubt the auction and packing shed no. I, a wooden building, 452 metres long, which was later destroyed in the Second World War. In 1898, packing shed no. II followed (pulled down 1922), in 1902 shed no. III (extended in 1905, 1908 and 1910, pulled down in 1974) and 1906 to 1907 packing shed no. IV, which still exists today. A railway station came into service in 1897, some fish industry plants (e.g. an ice production facility in 1911), a sailors' home (1913) and a shipyard run by the Unterweser company of Lehe (as from 1918) completed this new industrial area. The railway station was replaced by a new one on another spot from 1913 to 1920; further packing sheds (nos. V and VI) were built from 1914 to 1915 and 1916 to 1918 respectively. Both sheds were restored in 1981, and they are still preserved today. Packing sheds nos. VII and VIII followed in 1921 and 1922 and also still exist today.

Following the serious structural change the German fish industry was subjected to in the last decades, Basin I found a new lease of life in the 1990s. The “Showcase Fishery Port” was created with the focus on culture, restaurants and other leisure time activities. Some fishing cutters, research vessels and museum ships are also based there. These include the research vessel HEINCKE, owned by the Alfred Wegener-Institute for Polar and Ocean Research (AWI), as well as the museum trawler GERA and the former pilot vessel BREMERLOTSE, the latter owned by the Maritime Historical Society of Bremerhaven.

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