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New England fleet catch of cod and other ground fish landed during 1884, as reported to the American Fish Bureau.
1 Includes 23 vessels in the halibut catch, 5 that fished off Greenland, and 4 off Iceland.
Statistics of the imports of fish and fish oil for eleven years ending June 30, 1884.
The following table, showing the leading fish importations, has been prepared from the custom-house returns.
Attention may be called to the importation, duty free, of 134,482,950 pounds of fresh fish. Nearly all of this came from Canada under the treaty of Washington.
AMERICAN FISHERY INTERESTS.
The exports have constantly increased in quantity and value, due, doubtless, in some degree to the successful participation of the United States in the International Fishery Exhihition held in Europe.
1.-FREE OF DUTY.
Fish, not of American fisheries:
Fresh of all kinds...pounds..10, 761, 307 12, 975, 761 15, 893, 849 15,860, 390 17, 521, 419
64,811 120, 288
101, 441 126,519
134, 482, 950 802,467 921,459
Whale or fish, not of Ameri
SIXTH ANNUAL REPORT OF THE BOSTON FISH BUREAU, JANUARY 1, 1881.
[By W. A. Wilcox, secretary.]
After a series of years disastrous to life and property, with poor and inferior catches that sold at ruinous prices, we are pleased to place on record that the season just closed has been remarkable for its unusually fine weather for prosecuting the industry, for the small amount of loss of life and property; for the unprecedented abundance of the leading fish in the waters of Massachusetts Bay, as well as of codfish on the Grand Banks. All these advantages have continued throughout the fishing season and been accompanied with a good steady demand for the products as soon as placed on the market, enabling the producer to at once realize at fair prices, and at the same time no large stocks have accumulated.
Of the loss of life and property, 4 vessels with 28 men have sailed never to return; these with other losses from dories and small boats aggregate 58 men from the entire New England fleet, against 33 vessels and 266 men the previous year. The average
loss of life from the Gloucester fleet alone for the past twenty years up to the present has been 92 men.
As we have frequent inquiries as to the fleet of vessels in the cod fishery, amount of catch, etc., we have prepared a table of reports from the numerous New England ports. It will be found of interest as showing the number of the larger vessels engaged in the catch, and while showing only two-thirds of the total catch, at least one-third being caught by small boats fishing on the near home banks and fishing grounds, it will give some idea of the amount and value of this industry. We think these figures prove that for the capital employed this industry ranks among the most important in the country, giving employment to a large number of persons afloat and
on shore, and supplying for the masses a cheap and healthful food. As we have never seen any previous records of the codfish fleet, we have no table of comparisons with former years; the number of vessels from most of the ports is small compared with reports of years ago, while others have largely increased. The increased facilities and manner of the catch with a large increase in small boats has amply made up for losses in tonnage. It is generally admitted by dealers and fishermen that more fish are caught at the present time than in any past years. The receipts in Boston, while showing a falling off in some varieties (principally those from the Provinces), in the aggregate show the usual average amount has been received, the Boston market having been well supplied at all times with every variety of salt-water fish found in northern waters.
Mackerel.-The season opened by the early or southern fleet sailing in March; first catch reported by schooner Edward E. Webster, 25,000 fish, April 2. The record of the fleet will be found in the report of the various fleets and shows another financially disastrous early catch, some of the vessels returning without fish, very few with profit. We have in previous reports mentioned the injurious effects of this branch of the catch even when followed at a profit, a large catch of poor fish injuring the demand later in the season. The past few years fully demonstrates that the sooner this early catch is abandoned the better it will be for all interested. The first catch in the weirs at Cape Cod, April 26; first new salt mackerel arrived in Boston May 10. The market for new stock ranged from $5 to $6 a barrel, vessels doing only fairly up to July 1, the fish and fleet being scattered from Cape Cod to Jeffrey's Banks. Early in July an unprecedented large body of mackerel appeared in Massachusetts Bay, at our very doors. The oldest dealers and fishermen report never having known them so plenty. They continued in the Bay until the close of the season in December, during which time the entire fleet did well, while many of them made remarkable "stocks," as will be seen in the reports of individual vessels. The catch was noticeable for the absence of large and very small fish; its excellent quality, however, causing an active demand for immediate consumption. The catch in the North Bay and provincial waters by the American fleet was almost an entire failure, numerous vessels returning without a single barrel. Fortunately but a small number of vessels visited those waters and, not finding fish, returned in time to secure enough of the home catch to save them from a disastrous season. The total catch of inspected barrels by the Massachusetts fleet is the largest since 1874, amounting to 255,986 barrels. This season's catch has been exceeded but ten times since 1804. total catch by the New England fleet is 349,674 inspected barrels, a gain over the previous year of 99,861 barrels on the Massachusetts catch and total gain of 129,075 barrels. In addition to our own large catch there has been imported at this port from the Provinces 105,730 barrels, against 84,213 the previous year.
Total amount of mackerel received in Boston during 1880 from domestic and foreign ports, with home catch, 196,493 inspected barrels.
Herring.-Most of our supply is from the Provinces, and yearly since 1876 the catch shows a decrease, the imports of 1880 being less than half that of five years ago. This is accounted for by the failure of the leading herring fisheries in provincial waters. The catch off the New England shore was also much less than that of 1879. Even with the reduced supply, prices have ruled low, caused by the abundance of mackerel. Codfish.-The Grand and Western Bank fleets from New England ports, numbering 228 sail, with few exceptions, made but one trip to the Grand Banks; only ten sail fished in North Bay. All returned in safety with full fares. The Georges and Northeast shore fleet, numbering 517 sail of the larger class, have had a fairly prosperous season, and with the numerous small vessels and boats have amply supplied the increased demand, leaving less than the usual supply on hand at the close of the season. With the late method of packing in neat, clean, attractive packages has naturally followed an increased demand for home use; this has been of great advantage to the producer. Bank fish ruled most of the season at $3.50 to $3.75, Georges and Shores from $4.75 to $5.50 a quintal.
Hake, haddock, and other ground fish vary but little in the amount received from the previous year, and have met with a good demand, at prices somewhat higher than last season.
Salmon.-Our receipts show a large decrease, caused by a very small catch in provincial waters. The catch in American waters on the Pacific has been good and prices there low. The high rates of railroad transportation has prevented but slight receipts from that quarter.
Box herring.-About the usual amount of near 500,000 boxes has been received and distributed. This large amount has not at all times fully supplied the demand. The manufacture of the small herring, usually used for smoking, has drawn largely from the supply that would otherwise be boxed. Over 1,000 hands are now employed
AMERICAN FISHERY INTERESTS.
at Eastport, Me., in putting up sardines; there are also numerous factories at other points.
Other varieties of fish, it will be seen by the table of monthly receipts, about the usual amount has been received. They present no special feature of interest.
United States Fish Commission.-This branch of the Government, but a little older than the bureau, is steadily and quietly working for the benefit of the fishing industry in its various branches.
We wish here to return the thanks of the Boston dealers for the care and interest shown in their products at the late Berlin Exhibition. It is a source of gratification to all citizens, and more particularly to those engaged in the fish industry, that this country, from taking but little interest in the industry as compared with other nations a few years ago, has been acknowledged before the world as at the head, and worthy to receive the highest award of the exhibit, for which we are indebted in a large measure to the commission. Already good results are shown from the exhibit made by Boston dealers. Of the field work of the commission many good results have been accomplished; during the past season the artificial propagation of the various salt water fish has been successfully carried on, among which for the first time that of the valuable Spanish mackerel is of much importance, its spawning place even heretofore unknown. When we recall the endless amount of trouble and expense as well as millions of money paid in the past by treaties and awards to other countries for the privilege of fishing in provincial waters, the value of the thorough knowledge of fish propagation will be appreciated as shown in the following extract from the last report of Prof. Spencer F. Baird, United States Fish Commissioner: "We have at our command the means of so improving and increasing the American fisheries as to obviate the necessity in the future of asking a participation in the inshore fisheries of the British Provinces, and thus enable us to dispense with fishing treaties or fishery relations of any kind with the British or other Governments.' The last improvement that has come under our notice is one that, if it continues to do all that it gives promise of doing, will be of great value to the fishermen and revolutionize the present manner of catching ground fish. We allude to the use of gill-nets in cod-fishing. As is well known, the Norwegians take more than half the number and two-thirds of the total weight of their catch of cod by gill-nets, yet it has been unknown to our fishermen until the present month. having provided the Norway net for them to experiment with, Capt. George H. The commissioner Martin, of Gloucester, has been using them to good advantage in Ipswich Bay, fishing with two dories, two nets to a dory, nets each 50 fathoms long, 3 fathoms deep, suspended by glass balls or floats at any required depth. Nets of 10-inch mesh are set the same as herring nets, being set in the morning or during the day, and are hauled the next morning. As yet no fish caught except at night, and only the largest cod; the catch for the three first trials with unfavorable weather was, respectively, 4,000, 6,000, and 7,000 pounds. Captain Martin is much pleased with his success, and has ordered new nets. These nets can be used on the Grand Banks or in 50 fathoms of water, as well as in Ipswich Bay, where at present used only in 8 to 15 fathoms. We may not be surprised in the near future to see the old and much condemned as well as expensive method of trawling superseded by the gill-nets introduced by the United States Fish Commission.
Foreign exports.-From the early history of the fishing industry this branch has been of importance; of late years it has steadily shown a decline, the leading cause of which is found in the constantly increasing domestic demand. This year prices have ruled low at the West India ports, with small inducements to shippers to increase the business, which is yet of some considerable importance, amounting the past year to $600,000.
Fresh fish. Our report and tables of receipts, number of vessels and crew, having been confined to salt or cured fish, we wish briefly to call attention to the importance and steady growth of the fresh-fish business. During the past year the market has at all times been well supplied with the leading varieties of fresh salt-water fish; cod and pollock show a small falling off in the receipts, haddock a gain, hake a large increase; the total amount of the receipts of these fish for the past year is not far from 30,000,000 pounds. The abundance of mackerel at our doors most of the season resulted in the receiving and distribution throughout the country of 75,000 barrels of fresh mackerel. Day after day for weeks from 1,000 to 2,000 barrels was received. Notwithstanding this unusually large production, all were used fresh. For the first year in the history of the business not a week during the year has passed but fresh mackerel could be bought at reasonable prices. the market was well supplied. Other varieties of fish have been of an average catch. Salmon were in lighter receipt, yet The aggregate amount of this branch of the business, not far from $2,000,000, shows an increase over the previous year.
Boston Fish Bureau.-In closing the sixth annual report we wish to refer to its institution and past work. Previous to its organization the only records of the fishing industry were through the yearly reports of the State inspector-general of fish, with no concentration of daily or weekly reports of receipts or information in regard to the operations of the fleets during the fishing season, except such as individual firms procured. In June, 1875, the late Mr. Franklin Snow, with the sagacity and public spirit for which he was noted, called the dealers together, offering them suitable rooms for the required needs of an association free of rent for a year, and the bureau was organized. Since our last annual report we have been called to mourn the loss of its founder. For twenty-eight years he was one of the leaders in the trade, ever known at the front in good works and numerous institutions for the benefit of others, as well as the many business enterprises of which he was the founder or connected with. He has been and long will be missed as well by the humble fisherman that received his kind look and word as those having large business transactions with him.
Each year since its organization the bureau reports have been fuller and of more interest, for which we are largely indebted to our correspondents the entire length of the coast. At first looking with suspicion on its aim and object, they have long since found out its object is for the benefit of the fishing industry, its doors ever open to the fisherman to give him the latest information procured as to the location of the fleets, fish, or other desired information. From many letters in regard to our daily reports we extract the following from a producer and dealer in Maine: "We have derived much important information from your full and able reports of the growing and valuable interest, the production of fish, giving to the producer and dealer a line of information not elsewhere found, which aids the fisherman, packer, and dealer in each department."
To all who have helped to make our reports of interest, and kindly furnished us with statistics at the close of the year, we return our sincere thanks, with the hope that the record of the coming season business may be more favorable than the one just closed.
W. A. WILCOX,
Large catches and "stocks" by the mackerel fleet in New England waters, season of 1880.