back

BULLETIN OF THE UNITED STATES FISH COMMISSION 1885
Page 170

New England Fisheries in May 1885.
By W.A. Wilcox

The close of the month finds nearly all of the fishing vessels away on the various banks and fishing grounds, the total number reported being 943 sail and 7 steamers.

Mackerel have worked north slowly. The first of the month the fleet were taking them off the Delaware Breakwater, at the close off Block, Island and No Man's Land, a few sail being off the Nova Scotia shore.

On April 29 a severe gale caused the loss of 18 seine-boats, and the schooner Neponset, of Boston, lost 4 men. This was followed on the 14th of May by another heavy blow, in which 4 seine-boats were lost. During most of' the month fish were found abundant. The larger part of the vessels brought their fish to market fresh; it caused an oversupply, and very little was realized for them. Prices ranged from 50 cents to $5 a thousand fish. The fish were mostly of medium size, about one-tenth being of large size. Those that were salted were also sold at very low prices; unculled, in fishermen's order, $2.25 to $3 a barrel.

From a general depressed trade, an oversupply of fresh mackerel, inferior size and quality of salt mackerel, with severe losses by gales and rough weather, the mackerel catch this year, to date, has financially been a failure to nearly all engaged.

The first mackerel was taken in the weirs at Sandy Point, Cape Cod, on May 4. A large catch of fine fish is yearly expected at this point.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

BULLETIN OF THE UNITED STATES FISH COMMISSION. 171

During the entire month the catch has been the smallest for years--only 30 to 40 barrels a day at the most, at the close of the month only 5 to 10 barrels daily. .

May 18 the first mackerel was taken in traps at Gloucester Harbor, very few being taken during the month. May 18 the first mackerel were taken on the Nova Scotia shore, in traps, at Sanford, 6 miles from Yarmouth. May 22 the first taken in traps at Lunenbnrg, Nova. Scotia. Drag-nets for mackerel will be used by 10 small vessels, averaging 15 nets to a vessel. The first set of the nets was made May 29, on Middle Bank, one vessel taking 600, one 700, mackerel of large size on the same day.

Codfish have been found plentiful on all the usual banks and fishing grounds. In Ipswich Bay both trawl and gill-net fishermen have done well. The latter took up their nets May 12, part of them going for mackerel, and others hand-line fishing on other grounds.

George's Bank furnished abundance of codfish the first part of the month, the catch failing off the latter part, being an average for the month. Only a small amount of halibut was taken.

Brown's Bank has yielded a heavy catch of codfish, with tv few halibut. All the month the fish have been abundant, vessels making quick trips and full fares. Capt. Jeffrey Gerrior, of schooner Finance, one of the last arrivals, with a crew of 10 men, reports that he has made 7 trips to Brown's Bank between November 25 and May 30, landing 296,000 pounds of codfish. On his last trip fished in 35 fathoms, in latitude 42 degrees 42', longitude 65 degrees 50'. He counted 52 sail fishing to the northeast and northwest of him, all within a radius of 3 miles. The fish were all taken over the side of the vessel by hand-lines.

Halibut receipts at Gloucester the first of the month were quite large, the price dropping as low as 2 1/2 cents a pound. The larger part of the catch was made on Banquereau. Fish were found very plentiful off Burgeo, Newfoundland, only 4 miles from shore; but heavy bodies of ice prevented much fishing, destroyed the trawls, and sent the fishermen to the south. The latter part of the month the receipts fell off and prices were advanced.

Western Banks: Of late years, during May, the catch of cod and halibut on these banks shows a decrease, the past month being no exception, there being few vessels and in the aggregate light receipts from there during the month.

Pollock have been abundant off the south side of Cape Cod; 693,000 pounds were landed at Gloucester. They were all taken in purse-seines. In keeping with all other fish, they sold very low--50 cents a hundred for split fish.

Kingfish, from off Key West, are to a limited extent found in the fresh-fish markets of the large cities during the winter, and thought much of as a fresh fish. The US Fish Commission steamer Albatross having brought a few back from her late trip south, they were for warded to Gloucester, to be smoked, as an experiment.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Page 172 BULLETIN OF THE UNITED STATES FISH COMMISSION.

Although the samples were caught during spawning time, and the fish in, poor condition, they proved an excellent smoked fish, being tested by many experts, who pronounced them equal, and by some to be superior, to smoked halibut or salmon. As these fish are said to be very abundant, a new and valuable addition of food-fish may arise from the experiment in smoked kingfish.

The prospect continues favorable for a large catch of all kinds of fish during the season, as indicated in the report for April. The following extract from the Boston Globe of June 2 touches on the abundance of fish throughout the United States:

"PLENTY OF FISH. The efforts of the Fish Commissioners are at last beginning to bear fruit, and Professor Baird and his associates are to be congratulated on their success, which has been attended with many difficulties and much unfavorable criticism daring the ten or dozen years of untiring labor."

"Ten years ago salmon were not at all numerous in our Eastern rivers, and shad were so scarce that the man who found twenty of them in a single weir during the season was considered fortunate. In the early part of the last decade shad were almost unknown in the markets. Old fishermen who used to "drift" for them nights shook their heads gravely as they told of the boat-loads they had caught, and said our fishes were all leaving, never to come back."

"All this time the Fish Commissioners were at work. They went around to the weirs, buying the live fish from the owners, and took them to the breeding establishments, where the eggs were hatched and the young were cared far. After a few years of this work the business was enlarged and eggs and young fish were "planted" in the headwaters of streams that had none.

A few more years passed and the young fish, now grown to maturity, returned to their birthplaces to deposit their eggs, and found good fishways where there had been impassable dams. Laws were passed and enforced that protected the infant enterprise, and the finny tribes came by millions, filling the streams and ponds and adding wealth to the nation.

"This year shad are so abundant and cheap as to be almost a drug in the market, and many a poor family has partaken of that grand old luxury, ' baked shad,' that never tasted it before. With salmon the success has not been so marked, but enough has been accomplished to promise success in the near future, and the gentlemen do not relax in their labors. In addition to these, many ponds, public and private, have been stocked with black bass and German carp, both of which are thriving gloriously. If the work continues ten years longer, there will be more edible fish in the inland waters of the United States than in any other country on earth.

"This means cheap and wholesome food for the people. It also means lots and lots of healthful sport with the rod and reel, just such as we all like, during the warm months that are coming."

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

BULLETIN OF THE UNITED STATES FISH COMMISSION. Page 173

That an abundance of fish this year is not confined to this side of the Atlantic will be noticed by the following extract from the Gloucester News of June 2:

THE NORWEGIAN FISHERIES At the Loffoden Islands, on the 4th of April, the yield had been 25,000,000 codfish and 24,000 barrels of cod livers, and 5,500 barrels of medicinal cod-liver oil, steam refined. Last year, at the same time, the yield at Loffoden had been 16,500,000 codfish, 14,700 bamels of cod livers, and 3,450 barrels of medicinal cod oil, steam refined. At other places on Nordland, about 10,500,000 cod fish, as against 14,500,000 in the preceding season. Of the total quantity of 35,500,000 codfish caught up to this time, 10,600,000 fish will be prepared as klipfish (dry split fish) and 24,900,000 fish will be prepared as stockfish (dried round fish)?"

Number and location of New England fishing fleets on June 1, 1885.

Sail:
For cod & halibut, on George's & Brown's Banks, in latitude 41. to 43, longitude 65 30'to 69 ........180
For cod & halibut, on the Grand Banks , in latitude 43 15' to 46 35', longitude 49 to 54 25' ............175
On Banquereau, for cod and halibut, in latitude 44 to 45, longitude 57 12' to 60 ............52
On the Western Banks, for cod & halibut, in latitude 42 55' to 44 30', longitude 59 25' to 62 30' .....60
Off the Eastern New England coast, ground fishing ............................ 225
Off Greenland and Iceland coast, on halibut trips ................11
Fishing for mackerel between Sandy Hook and No Man's Land ................240

Total sail .......................................................................................................... .943

Steamers:
Fishing for mackerel ............................................................ 1
Taking whales off the New England coast .....................................6

Total steamers ................... ....................................... 7
The number and location of the menhaden steamers will appear later, full returns not having been received.

Catch of codfish at Ipswich Bay, by gill-nets, during May, and landed at:
Gloucester................................................................. 31,400 Pounds
Rockport........ . ......................................................... 98,000 Pounds
Portsmouth............................................................... 22, 000 Pounds
Total .............................................................................. 151,400 Pounds

About 300,000 pounds were taken on trawls and.landed at Boston, fresh, the nets having been taken up May 12.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Page 174 BULLETIN OF THE UNITED STATES FISH COMMISSION.

Vessels belonging to the port of Gloucester engaged in fishing June 1, 1886.

On the banks, for fresh halibut ................................................41
On George's and Brown's, for halibut and cod........................155
On Grand Banks, for codfish ..................................................33
On Western and Banquereau, for cod and halibut ......................51

On fishing grounds off the New England coast, ground fishing .......34
On fishing grounds off the Now England coast, lobster fishing ...... 6
On halibut trips to Greenland and Iceland .................................. 11
On mackerel voyages, mostly now between Sandy Hook and No Man's Land ....140
Steamer, mackerel fishing....................... .........................1

Total .......................................................................... 472

Receipts of fish at Gloucester, Mass. in May, 1885.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

END