The town's economy has always rested primarily on fishing. The harbour has been used as a seasonal fishing station since the 1670s. However, the first permanent residents did not settle in Aquaforte until the early 1800s.  It is located 4 miles from Ferryland and 40 miles from St. John's by water. It has one of the safest harbors in the island and cod was its main industry. In 1902 a resident from Norway, Anders Ellefsen, constructed a factory to process whales in the community. The plant operated for a few years but had to shut down around 1908 because of a decline in the whale population. It was incorporated as a community in 1972.