Report of the Commissioner of Sea and Shore Fisheries of the State of Maine for 1899-1900.

Letter To Governor 12/31/98 * Report Summary * Herring * Lobster * Lobster Hatchery * Illegal Lobster Fishing * Lobster Smacks * Canadian Lobstering * Menhaden * Clams & Scallops * Smelts * Alewives * Groundfishery * Mackerel * Shad * Salmon * * Fish Wardens * Sardine Wardens * Wardens & their Work * About this digitized report









December 31, 1900.

To His Excellency, Llewellyn Powers, Governor of Maine:

SIR —I have the honor to present herewith the biennial report of this department for the two years ending November 30, 1900, as required by law. Respectfully,

ALONZO R. NICKERSON, Commissioner.



In this, my second biennial report as commissioner of sea and shore fisheries, it gives me pleasure to say that the fisheries of the State of Maine are in a generally prosperous condition. While perhaps one or two branches of the fisheries are not flourishing, the business in general for the past two years has been successful.

The figures will show in the following pages as compared with former years more men engaged in the business, more money invested in the fisheries, more value of product, and, what tells the story, larger money returns to the individual fisherman.

In the fisheries and the several allied industries, the information and statistics in the possession of this department, gathered by the wardens for the several sections of the State,are tabulated, as is customary for easy and convenient reference and comparison, by species, fisheries and counties. The catch, apparatus, gear, appliances, disposition of production, values and other information, are thus shown as a permanent record of statistical value in the several fisheries, as well as in the many dependent and connected industries so closely identified with the fisheries as to be equally interesting, important and valuable both to the scientific and the commercial investigator.

In fixing upon the values of the catches in the several tables, I have made them what the fish were worth as landed by the fishermen, such adding to and enhancing of the values, as may be done by processes of packing, preserving and refining the product, being very properly excluded as belonging rather to manufacturing than fishing.

The catch or yield has not been duplicated in making up the tables. In some instances apparatus, gear or appliances for the capture of the fish, and persons engaged, have been utilized and employed in more than one



fishery and have been so reported in the tables of statistics. In each case the necessary explanatory notes have been added to the tables.

In the general tables Nos. 18 and 19, in order to facilitate quick reference and comparison, the yield of the fisheries has been reduced to pounds in each case, both as to fish and also product. The following will make this plain.

Barrels of fish of all kinds are reckoned two hundred (200) pounds. Box-herring are five (5) pounds per box. Box-herring bloaters are forty (40) pounds per box. Oil at seven and one-half (7 1/2) pounds per gallon. Scallops twelve pounds to the gallon. Clams twelve pounds to the gallon. Clams ten pounds to the bushel in shell. Clams canned reckoned 50 pounds per case. Alewives one-half (1/2) pound each. Lobsters one and three-quarters (i/) pounds each.

In the several branches of the fisheries in the year 1899 were engaged three hundred and seventy-five (375) vessels, aggregating five thousand nine hundred and eighty (5,980) tons, and in the year following there were four hundred and twenty-two (422) vessels of eight thousand two hundred and thirteen (8,213) tons. The values of these vessels are not included in the tabulation under any fishery.

Grand summary tables Nos. 18 and 19 exhibit for the two years the pounds and value of catch in all the fisheries by counties, species, and fisheries. The totals show the quantity and value of each fishery or species, the catch and value by counties, and the grand total catch and value of all species in the entire State.

For the year just closed the total yield of all the fisheries in the State is, one hundred and fifty-two millions, seven thousand nine hundred and twenty-one, (152,007,921), pounds, and the value of this production is two million, seven hundred and eighty-four thousand, four hundred and thirty-five dollars, ($2,784,435,000).

Again as in my last report, the lobster fishery is credited with the largest value of any single fishery in the State-- 1,037,556.



In 1899 Washington county leads the State by reporting very much the largest quantity of fish of all kinds taken, eighty-two millions, five hundred and seventy-eight thousand, six hundred and fifty-one pounds, (82,578,651), and also the largest value of production, $671,191.00.

In 1900 Hancock leads with the return of $593,424.00 in the value of fish caught, the largest of any county in the State. In the year 1899 considering the whole State the quantity of herring taken was very much more than that of any other species, being no less than ninety-four millions, nine hundred and forty-three thousand, one hundred (94,943,100) pounds.

Sixteen thousand, nine hundred and thirty-five, (16,935), persons were engaged in the fisheries in the State during the year 1900 as appears by table No. 22.

Tables Nos. 20 and 21 show the number of vessels in the general fishery, the value of gear and apparatus used in each fishery, and the total value of all the investment in the several fisheries for the years 1899 and 1900 under their titles.




This continues to be one of the most important fisheries in the State, which has grown in comparatively recent years to great proportions as will be seen by an inspection of the special tables number one and two covering the years 1899 and 1900. The tables include the interesting facts as to production, etc., in connection with this great business which benefits, directly and indirectly, a great many people who are more or less dependent upon this special fishery and connected industries for a livelihood.

In the year 1899 seventeen hundred and ninety-six persons (1,796) persons were employed in this fishery. These men produced from the sea by their efforts, herring to the value of five hundred and thirty-two thousand and eighty-six dollars ($532,086.00), at the same time the invested capital in the business in boats, steamers, gear, and apparatus was three hundred and forty-eight thousand, five hundred and ninety-seven dollars ($348,597.00), thus upon the invested capital there was a gross return of 152 per cent. The results were obtained by these men and this amount of capital through the catching and delivering to market and factory of four hundred and thirteen thousand, four hundred and twenty barrels (413,420) which were sold fresh, thirty-five thousand one hundred and thirty-three (35,133) barrels sold salted, and one million six hundred and forty-six thousand five hundred (1,646,500) boxes smoked.

While the catch of this fish has been in some counties on the coast larger for the year 1900 than for the previous year, taking the State as a whole there has been a considerable decrease in catch and return, while the number of men engaged has very materially diminished, the number being fourteen hundred and seventy people for the year 1900 employed in this fishery.

Referring to the table for 1900 it will be seen that Lincoln county has gained largely in catch, production, appliances, and value of same, and also in number of men engaged, notwithstanding the general decrease in the business in the State as a whole. This is owing not wholly to the schools of herring being more numerous and permanent in that section of the State-



which is true—but in a large degree, perhaps, to the increased number of appliances and apparatus engaged in the business, stimulated by the large demand and profitable return for the fish made by the increased number and enlarged capacity of the sardine canneries at Boothbay Harbor.

For the increase in the number and value of the steamers, boats, and other apparatus used so successfully in Lincoln county in this fishery the current year, can be ascribed the very large increase in capital invested, being one hundred and fourteen thousand six hundred and thirty-three dollars ($114,633) larger in 1900 than in 1899. The investment in this fishery to men engaged in 1899 was one hundred and ninety-four dollars ($194.00) per man, and in 1900 three hundred and fifteen dollars ($315.00) per man.

As a natural corollary of the large catch of herring in Lincoln county large numbers of vessels in search of fresh bait make Boothbay Harbor the point for securing the same. These vessels come from Portland and other Maine ports and also from Gloucester and Boston and while visiting Boothbay Harbor for bait, at the same time take their supply of ice for the preserving of their bait and the catch, which is brought to market fresh. Through the abundance of both bait and ice therefore a very large business has been built up which brings many hundred vessels annually to that port for their supplies of all kinds, including bait and ice. I speak of these bait sales as a very important part of the herring business in certain sections of the State, where ice is always found at reasonable prices and bait with reasonable certainty. In connection with the herring fishery mention should be made of the refrigerating plant at Boothbay Harbor owned by the Cold Storage Company. This is conducted on the comparatively new ammonia process and is used for the preservation of all kinds of fish—up to this time more especially the herring. It has a capacity of 4,000 barrels and is valued at six thousand dollars ($6,000.00), with a working capital of four thousand dollars ($4,000.00).

I have already said that the herring is one of the most important in our State. What I have already said under this title relates directly to the fishery and the conclusions and the tabulations upon which the same are based and drawn have reference wholly to the fishery.



I will now review the sardine canning business as the chief industry dependent wholly upon the catch of herring for its supply for packing. The herring fishery direct is a large and valuable interest and furnishes employment to a great many people, but the canning of the catch by the factories is still more important and valuable as adding much to the value of the product as taken from the hands of the fishermen, where as to value, the herring tables referred to heretofore take and leave the catch in the conclusions there arrived at, the increased value in packing not showing in tables of yield. Six thousand and seventy-six, (6,076) persons in the year 1899 were employed in sardine canning factories in three counties in our State—Washington, Lincoln, and Hancock. There were earned that year nine hundred and fifty-three thousand and ninety-six dollars ($953,096.00), or to each person one hundred and fifty-seven dollars ($157.00). I say person because the term man would not apply ; all are not men who gain a livelihood through the sardine business, neither are all the employees men and women, for both boys and girls are profitably engaged in the work. In fact, the larrre proportion of the help is women, boys, and girls, therefore when five persons in one family are employed in this work (as has been the case) the aggregate sum of their wages does not appear small. The work is mostly piece or case work and while some children get fifty cents per day, others, both men and women, skilled in the performance of some particular part of the work, make three dollars, four dollars, or more in a day.

In 1899 the cases packed were one million one hundred and seventy thousand five hundred and sixty-eight (1,170,568) each case (except one size) ioc, cans to the case. The value of the product was three million two hundred and fifty-three thousand and seventy-six dollars ($3,253,076.00). In sixty-eight factories (in three counties) of the value of five hundred and eighty-one thousand dollars ($581,000.00) was produced this immense amount and value of sardines. Since 1897 the increase has been in cases packed three hundred and ninety-three thousand one hundred and sixty-nine, in value of the packed product, one million three hundred ninety-seven thousand seventy-nine dollars ($1,397,079.00). Dependent wholly upon the catch of the small herring for supply, the scarcity of fish in the eastern



section of the State during the year 1900 has reduced the pack of sardines in the State as a whole, but while Washington county has thus suffered in scarcity of fish and consequent reduced production of pack, Hancock county and especially Lincoln county have profited by the almost continuous schools of herring remaining in these localities, and as a consequence large gains have been made in these counties the current year. Hancock county pack sixty-one thousand five hundred and seventy-one cases (61,571) more than in 1899 and gains two hundred forty-eight thousand eight hundred and fourteen dollars ($248,814.00) in valued product. One new factory is built and the payments to employees is sixty-one thousand six hundred and ninety dollars ($61,690.00) more than the previous year. Lincoln gains 59,371 cases and increases value by two hundred thirty thousand eight hundred and twenty-six dollars ($230,826.00), two hundred and four (204) more people are profitably employed, and eighty thousand nine hundred and seventy-seven dollars ($80, 977.00) were added to the pay-rolls.

Thus it will be seen that the business is largely increasing in Lincoln and Hancock counties by increased number of plants and more numerous supply of fish. For these counties the business has been very large, successful, and profitable, and there is much encouragement that 9 more factories will be put up in this section to take advantage of the great opportunities where the fish is numerous. The price of the product this season has been satisfactory to the producer and the market is being every season extended, while the quality of the goods packed is being improved every year.

What has been said of the sardine industry of course relates to it as a manufacturing business, and the sardines as packed are not shown (as I have heretofore mentioned) in any table other than in the herring tables where the fishermen are credited with the catch and value as landed.

However, the industry is so important and so wholly dependent upon the herring catch as to be very properly shown, considered, and discussed in this report of the fisheries of the State.

The sections of the State in which these factories are running are being rapidly built up and are fast growing in valuation, population, and importance, while the tin-plate manufacturies, the can-making factories, the box and case manufacturers and



the dealers in all supplies are doing naturally a prosperous business, and we should not forget the many transportation companies which are getting a large and profitable business in bringing in supplies and taking to market the manufactured product. Steamboat lines have been established and railroads will be built as the necessary modern mode of communication so necessary to the business of the day in these sections not already thus favored and convenienced. The factory employment is considered honorable in character and satisfactory in rewards.

Some legislation is required to enable both weir and seine men to prosecute their business without danger of violating the law. Those interested should see that such is accomplished. The packers of sardines, in my opinion, have not the protection which the present law was intended to give by its sponsors. I recommend such changes as may put it in shape to be enforced without hampering the business of the packers.

There is some difference of opinion as to the close time which now extends from December 1st to May 10th. Some favor a change so that the packing can be carried on only from April 10th to November 1st. My opinion is, if there is to be a close time at all in this business, that the present law as to that point, is as near right for all concerned as any amendment or change would make it.

The legislature should foster this business by casting about it not every restriction and regulation suggested, but every protection and encouragement that may be required to maintain it in the State, and to this end every unnecessary regulation and, statute should be promptly repealed and only such laws remain as will be absolutely necessary to protect the interests of the laborers and the public.

Herring tables for both years follow numbers 1 and 2.
The sardine packing industry is also exhibited in tabulated form in Nos. 3 and 4., not as a fishery but as a very important business entirely and wholly dependent upon the herring fishery for its maintenance.



TABLE No. 1.


* includes smoke house employes.

t 265 weirs, 236 seines, 1,223 nets and seven traps make up these values.

Herring smokehouses are used in curing alewives.

In Washington county 2 fertilizer plants valued at $60,000 produced 25,600 gallons oil valued at $5,631 and 700 tons pomace valued at $11,400.

In Lincoln county 1 fertilizer plant valued at $2,000 produced 10,800 gallons oil valued at $2,160 and 650 tons pomace valued at $3,900.

The Cold Storage Company at Boothbay Harbor owns a refrigerating plant valued at $6,000, used for preserving herring. Bloaters are usually put up one hundred large fish per box.

In this fishery in 1900 in Washington county were used 17 steamers, value $64,000; Hancock, 7 steamers, value $28,000; Lincoln, 10 steamers, value $25,000; York, 2 steamers, value $2,000.

TABLE No. 2.

*Including smoke-house employes.

In Washington county one fertilizer plant valued at $8,000, produced 20,000 gallons oil valued at $4,150, and 7120 tons pomace valued at $5,250. In Lincoln county one fertilizer plant valued at $2,500, produced 4,250 gallons oil valued at $850, and 210 tons pomace valued at $2,100. Herring smoke-houses are frequently used in curing alewives. The Cold Storage Company at Boothbay Harbor owns a refrigerating plant valued at $6,000 used for preserving herring.








County. Cases. Value. Number. I Value. Number. Wages. Washington 1,030,975 $2,826,921 54 *$503,000 5,103 $824,780 Hancock. 54,794 159,613 6 44,000 510 43,837 Lincoln 84,799 266,542 8 34,000 463 84,479 Totals 1,170,568 $3,253,076 68 081,000 6,076 $953,096

*Can making plant, value 20,000, included.

The product was put up in the following manner: 739,842 cases 41 size in oil. 3,034 cases size in oil. 405,260 cases size in mustard. 16,807 cases size in mustard. 625 cases 4' size tomato. 5,000 cases 14 size spiced.

Three-fourths mustards are packed 50 cans to a case, all other sizes 100 cans to a case. Washington county put up 681,762 cases 41 oil, 332,475 1 mustard, 2,278 & oil, 9,224 mustard, 236 41 tomato and 5,000 14 spiced.

Lincoln county put up 35,502 cases 1 oil, 43,135 1 mustard, 670 oil, 5,103 4 mustard, 389 1 tomato.

Hancock county put up 22,678 cases .1 oil, 29,650 1 mustard, 86 oil, 2,480 1 mustard




There is much satisfaction expressed among fishermen as to the present condition of the lobster fishery. With about the same number of persons engaged in the fishery as in 1899, and with something of a reduction in the number of boats, and traps used, the catch for the year 1900 has increased over 1899, 11 1/3 per cent, the fishermen having caught nine hundred and sixty-four thousand six hundred and nine (964,609) more lobsters in 1900 than in 1899.

At the same time the return to the fishermen for the current year has increased from nine hundred and seventy-one thousand four hundred and ninety-seven dollars ($971,497.00) in 1899 to one million thirty-seven thousand five hundred and fifty-six dollars ( $1,037,556.00) in 1900, a solid gain to our fishermen of sixty-six thousand and fifty-nine dollars ($66,059.00) or 6.8 per cent.

Recurring to the year 1898 and comparing the money return in that year with the year 1899, there was a gain of thirty-four thousand two hundred and fifty-eight dollars ($34,258.00) in favor of the latter year, while there was still an increase of one hundred and eight thousand eight hundred and three dollars ($108,803.00) in the revenue of 1898 over that of the year 1897; thus while it will be seen that the catch in some instances has varied considerably in recent years, and the personnel and apparatus has changed from year to year in number and value, the return to the men has gradually increased to the sum mentioned, considerably more than one million dollars.

I believe that the catch of lobsters has not been so large since the year 1899, and on that year the cash received for the catch was very little more than half what was received the present year, or about five hundred seventy-five thousand dollars ($575,000.00).

While the number of lobsters marketed for some years following the year 1889 gradually decreased, for the same period the value of the lobster as received by our fishermen was gradually increasing, and the money return has since continued to increase to the present year. The average return for each man in this fishery has been three hundred and thirty-five dollars ($335.00) an increase of $24.00 per man over 1899. This is



undoubtedly the largest average to the men in the business ever yielded by the lobster fishery in the history of the State. The men averaged two thousand six hundred and fifty-one (2,651) lobsters each, and each man operated an average of sixty traps to make this catch and earn the above sum.

It is interesting to know that the catch for each trap engaged in the business was forty-four lobsters, and the average income in return from each trap operated, was five dollars and twenty-five cents ($5.25) to the owner. The average investment of the men was one hundred and sixty-six dollars ($166.00) in boats and apparatus, the total investment in the fishery being five hundred and sixteen thousand one hundred eighteen dollars ($516,118.00). The very high price reached for but one day in the year 1899 (twenty-seven dollars ($27.00) per hundred for lobsters) has not the present year been quite equalled. The average price for the year has been twelve and six-tenths cents each.

I believe that the fishermen are appreciating the opportunities of the lobster fishery more and more each year, and that with the increased returns and the evidences of its permanency, the fostering care and protection by the State, no more satisfactory employment can be found for such part of the year as they may decide to operate it.

In my last report I said, "The law as to the legal length of lobsters—ten and one-half inches--should remain as it is. I do not believe that making the limit less than ten and one-half inches would be any advantage. I think the law is generally working well and when strictly observed is the best for the fishermen and the State that can be at present devised." I see no reason at this time to change my opinion as expressed in the above quotation from my last report. The maximum length of ten and one-half inches has been adopted by the states of New Hampshire and Massachusetts, and in those states the results have been as satisfactory as in Maine which these states followed in this respect in fixing the ten and one-half limit.

At the coming session of the legislature I shall probably have some recommendations to offer as to the appointment of wardens which will benefit the fisheries generally, and shall also suggest some legislation to prevent, if possible, the dealing in the "picked



out meats of lobsters" which is at present operated and carried on by those handling, selling, and using small lobsters which absolutely nullifies the law. The wardens are unable to bring notorious violators of the law to punishment because the protected lobsters are, as soon as caught, at once boiled and picked out of the shell and the solid meat sold by the pound or quart with impunity by those persons, while the fish before mutilation would be palpably illegal size and subject to seizure and forfeiture. The question of "broken and picked out" lobster meats was considered of sufficient importance to require a special consideration by the Dominion government at the hands of the "special Canadian lobster commission of 1898." In their report, which is referred to elsewhere in this report, this commission recommends legislation prohibiting this practice of fishermen in the following language:

"The commissioners see not only considerable danger of the deterioration in the meat itself as a lowering of the quality, but they also realize that such a system increases the difficulty of carrying out the protective regulations. The prohibition of spawn-lobsters and the enforcing of the size-limit would be utterly impossible if such a practice prevailed generally."


ARTIFICIAL HATCHING OF LOBSTERS. The artificial scientific propagation of the lobster as well as other economic fishes is being carried on with increased vigor and success at the United States Fish Commission stations at Woods Hole and Gloucester, Massachusetts.

During the last session of Congress a petition has been presented by Congressman Littlefield asking for an appropriation of ten thousand dollars for the establishment of a fish hatchery on the Maine coast. This petition received the endorsement of our entire representation in Congress. I have every reason to believe that an appropriation will be secured in the near future, and that a modern plant for the scientific propagation of the commercial species of fish will be established on our coast.

In my last report I expressed some doubt in regard to the practicability of artificial propagation of lobsters as at present carried on by the United States Fish Commission, and also by many of the states of the Union, and the demonstrated successes



of the same as claimed, but, as I then said I would do, I have looked into the question in a measure and have become satisfied that the great number of small fry that has been distributed along the coast for the past four years, a considerable percentage more than under natural conditions must have come to maturity, and that by this method of artificial propagation, pursued by the U. S. Fish Commission, the lobster has been made more numerous on the Maine coast, the business more stable and profitable, and the fishermen who are dependent upon the same for a livelihood, with more permanent and largely increasing returns, are better satisfied with their condition.

As has been the custom in recent years the United States Fish Commission has taken, under permit from this department, from the coast of the State during the two years last passed, egg-bearing lobsters for the purpose of scientific observation, and investigation, and in order to secure the eggs for the purpose of scientific artificial propagation.

By the reports following it will be seen that in 1899, 3,633 mature, egg-carrying lobsters were secured from the fishermen along the coast and taken to the Gloucester, Mass. Station of the U. S. Fish Commission where the eggs were artificially hatched producing thirty-six million nine hundred and twenty-five thousand (36,925,000) young lobsters for distribution. During the current season of 1900, in the same way and for the same purpose, thirty-one million seven hundred thousand (31,700,000) young lobsters were hatched from eggs taken from 1,944 egg-bearing lobsters which had been secured along our coast from the fishermen and returned again to our waters. Thus it will be seen that in both years no less than sixty-eight million six hundred and twenty-five thousand (68,625,000) young lobsters were freed in the waters of the State of Maine.

Detailed statements from the honorable commissioner in charge of the U. S. Fish Commission are printed in this report and show for each of the years 1899 and 1900 the number of young deposited in our waters and also the particular point where each lot or plant was freed.











During the twenty-four months covered by this report the officers seized and liberated ninety six thousand six hundred and thirty-two (96,632) lobsters which were not legal length. In order to accomplish this result a great amount of labor has been performed by the wardens, and while the above number of short lobsters seized does not by any means represent all the illegal fishing done in our State, I believe that the energy and success of the wardens for the past year has had the effect to discourage the practice to a large degree, while the success of the honestly and legally conducted fishing, financially, has satisfied many heretofore more or less engaged in the illegal business, that it pays best in the end to respect a law which was secured by them and was enacted by the legislature for their benefit alone, and that the successful lobster fishermen are to-day strictly observing its provisions.


During the year 1900 lobster smacks collected and delivered to Portland dealers two million four hundred and sixty-six thousand nine hundred and sixteen (2,466,916) lobsters, and Rockland, for the same period, received from smacks nine hundred and twenty-eight thousand one hundred and forty-seven (928,147), a total of lobsters collected and transported as above, of three million three hundred and ninety-five thousand and sixty-three (3,395,063) for 1900.

In the year 1899 the collecting by smacks amounted in the aggregate for Portland and Rockland to two million nine hundred and eighty-eight thousand five hundred and sixty-eight (2,988,568) lobsters. In the collecting, transporting, and delivering these lobsters there was engaged in the business in the year 1900 fifteen steam smacks valued at seventy thousand seven hundred dollars ($70,700.00), and thirty-nine sailing smacks valued at forty-six thousand three hundred and twenty-five dollars ($46,325.00), a total value of craft used exclusively in this branch of business of one hundred and seventeen thousand and twenty-five dollars ($117,025.00). These vessels and their value are not considered in the tabulation in any fishery.




That the Dominion government considers the lobster question an important one and the protection of the lobster of moment is evidenced by the fact that a commission of seven prominent gentlemen of the Dominion was appointed by order of council of 27th September, 1898; added to the membership was Hon. Edward E. Prince, Dominion Commissioner of Fisheries, who was chairman ex-officio.

After laborious research, investigation, and the hearing of evidence from the fishermen and others interested in all sections of the coast,—which were visited by the commissioners—a lengthy report was made with many recommendations, including the dividing of the maritime provinces into three districts for the better protection of the fishermen and the fishery of the Dominion, in which districts will be three minimum sizes under which it will be illegal to take lobsters. The regulations recommended also include a different close time for each district.

I have already referred at length to the report and quoted from the same in regard to "broken or picked out meat of lobsters." The commission makes no recommendation as to restricting the exportation of lobsters, but holds "that there should be no limit (as to export length) but that those engaged in the industry should be allowed by law to dispose of their catch, whether by export or otherwise, to the best advantage."

I presume it is too early to form any opinion of the success of the several recommendations of this honorable commission, but in many respects the report can be safely referred to as an authority and a valuable addition to the literature upon a subject, the knowledge of which little is possessed by the public generally.

The following tables show the catch and value and the several items of apparatus and value, and the number of persons engaged in the fishery, both by counties and by totals for the term of this report.









Exhibiting by Counties, Detailed Information as to the Lobster Fishery for the State of Maine for the year 1899.




I cannot too strongly express my regrets that I am unable with this my second report to show a return of a large and profitable business in this industry. There has been no business done for the two years past.

In 1898 there was a profitable business conducted and there was an expectation reasonable or otherwise that the fish would appear on our coast again the following year with as good or better profits than before, but the hopes were not realized. The fish have apparently taken up new grounds in which to feed and have avoided our coast for a number of years, with one or two years excepted, in which business was done. The spring of 1899 found the factories and works in order for business, a gang of men at work for about two months putting things in, order for the fishing season, being all the employment given, and all the business done for two years, the factories being closed. On the coast of New York and of some of the southern states the fish were very abundant and the factories in these sections (owned by the same company which operates them on our coast) were kept running to their fullest capacity all the season. Especially was this the case in Texas where one factory was erected during the season of 1899.

While the business is carried on to a greater or less extent in the southern waters it is not as profitable to the owners as in northern waters for the reason fully explained in my last report, from which I quote as follows : "The menhaden is a migratory fish and as the great schools come north in the summer the first increase very much in value, as when in the vicinity of Rhode Island, for instance, they are very lean and produce a very small proportion of oil. A little later in the season when on the Maine coast—their richest feeding ground—the fish become very fat and yield double the amount of oil they would if taken south of Cape Cod.

Thus we see the reason that these factories are located on. the Maine coast,—the fish are twice as valuable here as elsewhere."

For the year 1899 the American Fisheries Company which owns the factories, gave employment in connection with their southern factories to 768 men on boats and steamers and 710 men on shore.



The several factories caught eight hundred ninety-three thousand nine, hundred and thirty-eight barrels of fish, producing twenty-seven thousand nine hundred and forty-one (27,941) barrels of oil, six thousand three hundred and seventy-seven (6,377) tons dried scrap, nineteen thousand eight hundred and eighty (19,880) tons of acid scrap. The value of the product is : Oil, $279,130.59; acid scrap, $182,896 ; dried scrap, $116,061.40; making $578,087.90 as the total value of production for 1899. I wish this business, or a part of it, could have been done on our coast.




Sixteen hundred and seventy-seven (1,677) persons were engaged in the digging of clams and the dredging of scallops in this State during the year 1900. In most sections this is done in connection with some other fishery or employment and few if any of the above enumerated persons are in the business the entire year. Still the three items of catch shown in the table for this year, amount to the total equivalent of eight hundred and seventy-four thousand four hundred and ninety (874,490) bushels, and while the factories in five counties utilize a large amount of the total yield it is a fact that a great quantity was shipped out of the State to the Boston and New York markets in barrels both shucked and in the shell.

That this part of the business has grown greatly within a few years is a fact, both the canning and the shipping, while of course the consumption in the State—which somewhat increases necessarily—figures as a very small part of the total yield. As to shipping I will give an illustration of the increase, that in my opinion, as, compared with twenty years ago, five hundred barrels are now shipped out of the State where one barrel was shipped then, and I think that this year the markets in the state of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New York are largely supplied from our shipments. The returns for clams and scallops for the year have been a considerable sum, amounting to three hundred sixty-one thousand one hundred and forty-seven dollars ($361,147.00) and brings a considerable amount individually to those prosecuting it as they do for but a portion of the year, but the opinion generally prevails that the fields of clams are being gradually exhausted and at the present rate of utilization in a few years will result in extermination.

While this statement may be overdrawn I am satisfied that clams are not nearly so numerous or easily procured as in former years, and that some of the best fields of clams are undoubtedly being too heavily drawn upon for factory packing and shipping purposes, and that in many places where they were abundant a few years ago, now there are few or none. Reasons are given by the fishermen for the depletion of some of the more prolific sections of a few years ago. One class of



men are of the opinion that when the flats are dug over in the cold winter weather the growing clams and those too small for use are thrown out on top of the grounds in digging, and are thus exposed to freezing before the tide returns to cover them with water and they are thus killed. On the other hand the opinion is expressed by many, that when the flats are dug over in the hot summer days the young clams are thrown out in the same way, and before the water returns to protect them the direct rays of old Sol beating upon the exposed young and tender clams, kill them.

Both classes demand a close time, one in summer, and one in winter. The above refers to large and prominent fields which are dug over thoroughly and systematically and all "turned up" as a potato field would be dug over. Section i of chapter 32 of the laws of 1899 was enacted to protect the more important fields of clams from entire exhaustion, and appears to do so by a close time for the months of June, July, August, and a part of September, but it does not in my opinion benefit the State. In certain sections the clams are thus allowed to grow for these months and become more plentiful when at the end of the protective period a large gang of men are ready to commence digging and shipping, and at the end of three months the result which would have been arrived at without a close time, has been accomplished, simply by the employment of more men during a shorter period, and the flats have been as thoroughly dug and if possible more thoroughly "dug" and drained than they would without a close time.

If one examines carefully most laws that are called for in relation to the salt water fishing, and notices who calls for them they will, if familiar with the subject, decide that it is usually one class of fishermen against another, and if the legislation asked, is granted, it is taking from one class and giving to the other. Very seldom do fishermen ask for a law for the purpose of benefiting the State.

I have at this time no suggestions to offer as to restrictive legislation. To limit the size of the clam, marketed as proposed by some, would be impossible of enforcement. The demand for the State of Maine clams is certainly rapidly increasing and as certainly the store is being depleted, the demand being more than the supply, therefore the price should naturally be enhanced—the supply gradually decreasing, the price as gradually



increasing—then by the law of compensation where the price gets beyond a certain limit the pendulum will swing back, the demand will be less, the price will go down, and perhaps upon that theory of economics the clams will protect themselves and the State be as well off without a change in the present law.

The yield of scallops for the year has been, as will be seen, fourteen thousand five hundred and ten (14,510) gallons, worth eight thousand five hundred and eighty-eight dollars ($8,588). But three counties contributed to this fishery—Washington, Hancock, and Cumberland. I believe this branch of the fishery is not prosecuted with much vigor or the yield would be much larger, but I presume that those skilled in the fisheries put their time to more remunerative and possibly more agreeable branches which are open to them.

The total apparatus and investment by the fishermen in the carrying on of this business is one thousand and sixty-two (1,062) boats, worth eleven thousand two hundred and sixty-five dollars ($11,265) less than seven dollars per man, and this includes such digging apparatus as is used. This does not take into consideration the factories and their output. Clams were put up to the number of sixty thousand nine hundred and twenty-eight (60,928) cases, of a market value of one hundred seventy-four thousand eight hundred and ninety-three dollars ($174,893.00), and clam juice worth seven thousand, six hundred and eighty-five dollars ($7,685.00) was put on the market. Factory help was paid during the year 1900 thirty-two thousand six hundred and ten dollars ($32,610.00) and in Washington county the clams put up were canned in sardine factories.

Taken as a whole the clam fishery is very important indeed as not only supplying a considerable canning industry and a large shipping business, but at times and seasons furnishing employment and quick returns and sustenance also to the indigent and that other class which the Master says are always with us, and as a business, coming the nearest to the class of which he who lives "by the sweat of his brow," or perhaps rather from "hand to mouth" is an example.

My references and any conclusions here drawn have reference to the year 1900. Tables, however, for both 1899 and 1900 are included in this report and all investigators are referred to these tables for information.




The Clam and Scallop Fishery: detailed information, including disposition of product of that fishery, for the state of Maine for the year 1900, by counties



TABLE 8 The Clam and Scallop Fishery: detailed information, including disposition of product of that fishery, for the state of Maine for the year 1899, by counties




From this business (considered small and practically of no account by those who do not know about it) in the year 1900, our State derived a revenue to its fishermen of seventy-seven thousand and seventy-four dollars ($77,074.00), the yield being one million seventeen thousand four hundred and thirty-four pounds (1,017,434). The total investment in boats and gear, weirs and camps used in this business in 1900 was twenty-five thousand three hundred and ninety-eight dollars ($25,398.00) or about twenty-six dollars ($26.00) to each person engaged in the fishery, which numbered nine hundred and seventy-seven persons (977), men and boys.

All the counties on our coast excepting Knox, Cumberland and York prosecuted the fishing largely through the ice from camps, while Waldo county catch was taken without the use of either weirs or camps, and York county entirely with hook and line. Most of the fishermen carry on the fishing but a few weeks and in some sections but a few days, still the men engaged average about eighty dollars ($80.00) each. As compared with the previous year 1899, the catch and money return increased somewhat over the latter year, and the men fishing increased from eight hundred and thirty (830) to nine hundred and seventy-seven (977). Large shipments continued to be made to Boston and New York markets.

There is no suggested legislation that I can recommend in this report, but undoubtedly the legislative committee will have numerous propositions for legislative action and possible restrictions.

Tables for both years covered by this report will be found: following, to which reference is made for detailed information.





Total... 1,017,434 $77,074 206 $15,787 108 $4,930 535 $4,681 977

*n the valuation of boats the seines and nets used are included.



Pounds. Value. No. Value. No. Value. No. Value. 10

Total 880,106 $66,682 230 $15,426 74 $3,325 499 $3,096 830

*In the valuation of boats the seines and nets used are included.




The catch of this very important and valuable fish since my last report has been total number of fish taken six million four hundred and ninety-nine thousand seven hundred and thirty (6,499,730). The value of the same is twenty-seven thousand three hundred and twenty-six dollars ($27,326.00).

The catch for 1900, has not been equal to that for 1899, a reduction in number of one million six hundred and fifty-eight thousand six hundred and seventy ( 1,658,670) of this falling off in the yield Lincoln county shows a loss of one million three hundred and twenty-eight thousand four hundred, (1,328,400) yet for both years Lincoln county leads all the other counties in production.

There are many alewive fisheries in the State that could be made valuable which are now producing little or nothing as compared with other fisheries that are properly established with fish-ways and maintained as they should be. The towns of Newcastle and Nobleboro are both greatly benefited through the revenue derived from the alewife fishery located there and owned by these two towns.

Those fish-ways that can be made valuable should receive attention, and in my last report I made the same appeal on behalf of this fishery. The fish-ways are in many sections under the supervision of the towns to look after and see that the fish are allowed by the construction of proper fish-ways to reach their spawning beds, but this is neglected and the "run of fish" is gradually falling off and it is only a question of time when they will disappear entirely from these places. Unless the fish have an opportunity to spawn in their accustomed places we cannot expect an increase, but shall meet a decrease and ultimate extinction of this fish. All fish-ways in our State are under the supervision of the Inland Fish and Game Commission who stand ready to examine with care any of these places when properly called upon to do so.

The table following will explain the details of the alewive fishery as prosecuted in the year 1899 and 1900.




Showing by Counties Statistics of the Alwive Fishery in the State of Maine for the year 1900. <



TABLE 15 Giving by Counties Statistics of the Alwife Fishery in the State of Maine for the year 1899.




The yield of this great fishery for the two years of this report is seventy-four million five hundred and forty-nine thousand nine hundred and nine (74,549,909) pounds. For this same period Knox county returns very much the largest production of any county in the State, showing twenty million six hundred and two thousand eight hundred forty (20,602,840) pounds.

With this great yield to the credit of Knox county in pounds, two other counties showing less catch return greater value. Cumberland county with a production of seventeen million ninety thousand two hundred thirty-eight pounds (17,090,238) shows a money return of three hundred eight thousand six hundred ninety-six dollars ($308,696.00) to two hundred thirteen thousand three hundred fourteen dollars ($213,314.00) for Knox, and Hancock county reports a catch of twelve million eight hundred forty-four thousand nine hundred twenty (12,844,920) pounds with a valuation of two hundred sixty-one thousand nine hundred thirteen dollars ($261,913.00).

The small table immediately following will exhibit at a glance the production or catch of fish and the value of the same in all the counties in the order of their importance in production for the term covered by this report.

County. Yield in Value of U pounds. the same.

Knox 20,602,840 $213,314 00 dN

Cumberland 17,090,236 308,696 00 o

Hancock 12,844,920 261,913 00

Lincoln . 10,449,950 173,655 00

York 6,803,073 136,510 00 'P Washington 5,682,430 105,433 00 0

Sagadahoc 1,027,163 16,931 00 0


Waldo 49,295 1,377 00 74,549,909 $1,217,829 00



This fishery is carried on as the bank fishery which brings in salted fares making very long and expensive voyages to the several * banks and fishing grounds, and the fresh fish branch which is pursued by quite a fleet and takes out ice for the preservation of the fish and, returns the fares to market fresh. Both these branches of the ground fishery are apparently in better condition than in some years as will be evidenced by the enormous amount of fish caught, and with the increase in catch, the business also much more profitable in return.

The prices for fresh fish have ranged higher than !for many years past. In fact,. at times, almost "civil war prices" have obtained. Very large cod-fish continue at intervals to be taken in the shoal inshore grounds and rivers, and very profitable catches of these fish have been made in Lincoln county waters, especially within the last two years. I still advocate a bounty to the fishing vessels in some form in order that it may be maintained.

Statistical tables of this fishery for the years 1899 and 1900 giving full information in detail as to catch by products, apparatus, and also values, immediately follow.



TABLE 11 Statistics of the Groundfishery, by Counties, in the State of Maine for the Year 1900



TABLE 12 Statistics of the Groundfishery, by Counties, in the State of Maine for the Year 1899




The season of 1899 inaugurated a decided improvement in this business and the season of 1900 continued the improvement. The mackerel fishery the latter season has been a reminder of those times in years past when the mackerel were abundant on our coast. The New England fleet which went south early in the spring brought large catches and returned the owners good profits. The large schools in the southern waters indicated that the fish might come north and the prophecies of the fishermen in this respect were fulfilled when large "hauls" were made on our coast and on the George's bank. Several trips landed by vessels absent but a few days were sold for three thousand dollars ($3,000-00) and a few as high as five thousand dollars ($5,000.00). Everyone connected with the business seemed to take oa new life with the prospect of the old-time fishing. Some of the largest stocks were made by vessels this season that were ever made in this fishery. Several vessels stocked more than twenty-four thousand dollars ($24,000-00).

Maine at present has but a few vessels engaged. With the present encouraging outlook I hope to see many more next season. Maine skippers are sailing vessels from other states and, are among the most successful in the business and I hope in the near future to see them masters of vessels hailing from Maine ports. Captain Solomon Jacobs the acknowledged king of the mackerel fleet from Massachusetts, and Captain Eben Lewis, the recognized Maine king have the credit of being "high-liners" in their respective states the present season.

Captain Jacobs tried the experiment of placing auxillary power in his new vessel built in 1900 and his large stock during the season proves his good judgment and foresight and the success of his advanced ideas. A vessel is already in construction at Boothbay which will be commanded by Captain Lewis. The vessel will have every modern improvement known to the business, including auxillary power, and probably next season we shall have more of this class of vessels in the Maine fleet.

The increase in this business from '99 to 1900 has been large considering the condition of I the fishery for the past few years. The catch has increased .from eight hundred and sixty-two thousand



five hundred and twenty-four (862,524) pounds fresh and thirteen hundred and sixty-eight barrels salted in '99 to one million six hundred seven thousand six hundred and ninety-two (1,607,692) pounds fresh and four thousand two hundred and sixty-nine barrels salted in 1900.

This is a gain of over 86 per cent in fresh catch and more than 312 per cent gain in the salted fish. With anything like this rate of increase for a few years we shall have the old fishing prosperity when hundreds of vessels were engaged exclusively in the business. In presenting the statistics of this fishery the full business done cannot be made to appear, as the few vessels now engaged in the business have landed a great portion of their catch in Massachusetts and New York and while the money for the product belonged in our State and ultimately comes here I have been unable to show in full either catch or value. Combined in one table the statistical information in connection with this fishery for both 1899 and 1900 are shown below.

TABLE No. 13.

The Mackerel Fishery. For the year 1899.

Fresh mackerel landed, pounds. 862,524

Value of fresh mackerel $49,122
Salt mackerel landed, barrels . 1,368

Value of salt mackerel. 14,499

Number of seines 15
Value of seines used 5,800

Number nets used 1,274
Value of nets. 11,400
Number of pounds and traps used 29

Value of pounds and traps 11,200
Number of boats used 101
Value of boats 4,157 7,080

Number of persons engaged in fishery 208

Total value of catch and apparatus used. $96,178

TABLE No. 13 B.

The Mackerel Fishery. For the year 1900.

Fresh mackerel landed, pounds. 1,607,692

Value of fresh mackerel $72,308
Salt mackerel landed, barrels 4,269

Value of salt mackerel. 52,297

Number of seines 17
Value of seines used 5,600

Number nets used 400
Value of nets. 4,000
Number of pounds and traps used 26

Value of pounds and traps 12,050
Number of boats used 69
Value of boats 7,080

Number of persons engaged in fishery, 1900. 233

Total value of catch and apparatus used, 1900. $153,335 273 cases mackerel, value $1,092, were put up in sardine factories in Washington county. 881 cases mackerel, value $3,548, were put up in sardine factories in Hancock county. These mackerel were taken in herring weirs. Mackerel valued at $1,488 were also taken in herring weirs and reported from Knox county. All are accounted for in above table.

Documented vessels engaged in this fishery are included in summary tables numbers 20 and 21.




The catch of shad for the period covered by this report amounts to one million, four hundred and thirty-four thousand three hundred and seventy-five (1,434,375) pounds. During the year 1899 the returns came from only Washington, Waldo and Sagadahoc counties, the latter county taking six hundred and fifty thousand two hundred (650,200) pounds, and in 1900 Cumberland, Lincoln, Sagadahoc and Washington made the entire catch. The fishermen received for the fish forty-two thousand two hundred and ninety-one dollars ($42,291.00). The total value of the apparatus in use in 1900 was thirteen thousand two hundred and seventy-five dollars ($13,275-00) or about seventy-nine dollars ($79.00) to each of the one hundred and sixty-eight men engaged. The average catch to each man was four thousand two hundred and eighty-eight (4,288) pounds, yielding him one hundred and thirty-five dollars ($135.00).

This fishing is pursued but a portion of the year and is carried on largely by those engaged in other branches of the fisheries. The fish are shipped principally to the Boston and New York markets.

Table containing information as to this fishery for both 1899 and 1900 follow.

TABLE No. 16A.
The Shad Fishery. For year 1899.
Shad taken, pounds 713,975
Value of shad $19,587
Number of boats shad fishing 220
Value of boats 4,106
Numberof nets used 15
Valueof nets 750
.Number of weirs used 88
Value of weirs 4.160
Number of persons fishing 228

Total value of catch and apparatus. $28,647


TABLE No. 16B.
The Shad Fishery. For year 1900.
Shad taken, pounds 720,400
Value of shad $22,704
Number of boats shad fishing 246
Value of boats 3,500
Numberof nets used 166
Valueof nets 3,440
.Number of weirs used 130
Value of weirs 5,335
Number of persons fishing 168

Total value of catch and apparatus. $52,619




Ninety-nine thousand two hundred and twenty-seven (99,227) pounds of salmon were taken within -the State since the date of my last report. The value of this catch for the same period was nineteen thousand six hundred and three dollars ($19,603-00), thus it will be seen that the average price per pound for Maine salmon was nineteen cents. One hundred and thirty-two men were engaged in the fishery during the year 1900. Hancock county returns the largest year's catch, twenty-one thousand seven hundred and thirty-six pounds (21,736) in 1899. In the Penobscot and St. Croix rivers quite a number of people fish for salmon with fly and rod, and catch small quantities of fish in this way. Where possible to obtain the amount of this catch the wardens have returned the same and it is included in this report, but of course the men thus pursuing the fishery for pleasure are not considered as fishermen and are not included.

One table containing the statistics for both 1899 and 1900 will be found below.

TABLE No. 17.

The Salmon Fishery. For year 1899.

Salmon taken, pounds 55,014
Value of salmon $9,257

Number of boats engaged 153
Value of boats 4,099

Number of weirs and traps used 147
Value of weirs and traps 7,600

Number of nets and seines used 103
Value of nets and seines 2,280

Number of persons fishing 150

Total value of catch and apparatus $23,236


The Salmon Fishery. For year 1900.

Salmon taken, pounds 44,213
Value of salmon $10,346

Number of boats engaged 88
Value of boats 2,350

Number of weirs and traps used 106
Value of weirs and traps 5,370

Number of nets and seines used 58
Value of nets and seines 770

Number of persons fishing 132

Total value of catch and apparatus $18,836

Alewive apparatus is frequently used in the capture of salmon, and in 1899 a considerable portion of the alewives taken in Washington, Hancock and Waldo, counties were caught in salmon weirs.







J. F. Goldthwaite Biddeford.

George A. Dow 316 Congress Street, Portland.
Wm. J. Gardner Peak Island.
Richard Orr Orr's Island.

Abner C. Johnson Ashdale.

N. J. Hanna New Harbor.
R. T. York Damariscotta Mills.
C. E. Sherman Bootbbay Harbor.

W. L. Blackington Rockland.
Benjamin Libby Warren.

George W. Frisbee Belfast.

Wm. Hale 44 Boyd Street, Bangor.

S. P. Cousins East Lamoine.
John F. Gray Sargentville.
F. M. Trundy Oceanville.
John U. Hill Sullivan.
Benjamin Howard Deer Isle.

W. A. Henderson Cutler.
Wm. W. Blood Milbridge.
Peter M. Kane Eastport.
D. 0. French Jonesport.
Albert French Calais.


Alfred Small Lubec.
W. A. Henderson Cutler.
F. M. Trundy Oceanville.
W. J. Fisher Eastport.
H. D. Avery North Lubec.
Joseph Hamilton Pembroke.
C. E. Sherman Boothbay Harbor
James McDiarmid. Eastport.
William W. Blood Milbridge.




The wardens—with a few exceptions----have attended to their duties in a very satisfactory manner, being ready to act at any and all times. During the past twenty-four months they have liberated ninety-six thousand six hundred and thirty-two (96,632) lobsters less than ten and one-half inches in length, and seized many hundreds which were not in condition to be liberated.

They have also caused fines to the amount of two thousand five hundred and thirty-eight dollars and 61 cents ($2,538.61) to be paid our State treasurer, besides many fines which have been paid in cases where the law requires one-half to be paid to the complainant and one-half to the county in which the offence is committed. They have also caused seven men to be imprisoned, and at the present time have twelve cases pending action in the courts.

If the people in general would work one-half as hard to assist the wardens in bringing the violators to justice as they. do to assist them to escape, much more efficient work might be done.

There are several wardens of whom I would like to make personal mention for their very efficient work during their service in this department, but for fear it might discourage others I will forbear, hoping that those who have performed a great part of their labor in making bills and drawing their pay from the State may take warning, and from this time forward give to the State value received for the amount for which their bills are rendered. Too many men who are employed by the State, labor under an impression that State officers are only appointed to benefit themselves, and so long as they appear regularly when "pay day" comes and collect salary, they have done what is required of them, and fail to see that they have given the State nothing in return. What I have said is intended for no one in this department who has done his duty.




















This report was copied from an original edition at the Bangor Public Library, then digitized and uploaded to the internet by Ron Huber, Penobscot Baywatch, Rockland, Maine, 11/28/07. Please contact him to point out errata, or for more information or with your inquiries.