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Bulletin of the United States Fish Commission March 1887


The fisheries of Gloucester, Massachusetts in March 1887, with notes on those of other localities
By W. A. Wilcox.
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During a large part of the month the weather was so stormy as to seriously interfere with fishing, and many vessels lost anchors, cables, and deck-gear, but they escaped serious disaster.

The leading receipts of the month have been cod, halibut, and frozen herring. On George's Bank cod and halibut have been scarce; old fishermen report them more so than for twenty-five years, but the decreased receipts are accounted for, in part at least, by the weather, which was unfavorable for fishing. In Ipswich Bay a fleet of sixty sail has found codfish both abundant and large in size. The fish were mostly taken with trawls, the largest catches being made where the trawls were most numerous; the thousands of baited trawls apparently attracting the fish.

Halibut receipts were mostly from 18 to 20 miles ENE. of Sable Island. These grounds have of late years been seldom visited by American fishermen, but fish were recently found plentiful there, about two-thirds of the catch being white halibut. The few vessels fishing on the Grand Bank have had a moderate catch of halibut, though they met with much drift ice, which in many cases carried away their trawls. Fish from this locality averaged only one-half white.

The Western Bank codfish fleet have begun to sail for the fishing- grounds. A. larger proportion than usual will fish with hand-lines and salt-clam bait, instead of using trawls and fresh bait, as formerly. By this means they will avoid the necessity of visiting any foreign port except for wood, water, shelter, or repairing damages. It is reported that about 7,000 barrels of clam bait have been sold to provincial fishermen by dealers in Maine.

Fourteen sail of cod-fishermen are reported as having started for the Western Bank from Booth Bay and Southport, Me. Provincetown will this season have a reduced fleet engaged in the cod and mackerel fisheries, as a number of the vessels have been sold, some of them having left the country and no new ones have been added. That port during the month has had twenty-two vessels engaged in catching fresh fish for the Boston market.

The schooner Grampus, of the U. S. Fish Commission, has done good work in gathering codfish eggs for the hatchery at Wood's Holl, and in turning loose the young fry. Much time has been lost by rough weather yet the millions of eggs gathered, hatched, and turned out into the waters of Massachusetts Bay may reasonably be expected to produce good results in the future. Her work in this line for the season ends with March, as she is to go south to meet and follow the mackerel,


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alewife, bluefish, and other migratory fish, concerning which much important information is yet to be obtained.

The spring mackerel fleet have been actively engaged in making ready for the work of the season. The first vessel to start, the schooner Mayflower, sailed from Gloucester on March 11, and was followed during the month by the steamer Novelty and 38 other mackerel vessels hailing from Maine and Massachusetts ports. Up to the close of the month no mackerel have been caught or seen.

A few vessels from Gloucester will go to Flemish Cap for codfish, but probably none will visit the Greenland coast this year. The Gloucester schooners Davy Crockett and Arthur D. Story sailed on halibut trips to the coast of Iceland on March 23, followed, two days later, by the Annie M. Jordan. The schooner Concord will soon sail for the same locality. No other American fishing vessels are expected to visit Iceland during the season.

Fish landed at Gloucester by the fishing fleet in March, 1887.

NOTE. The miscellaneous receipts from other ports during the month consisted of 1,000 boxes smoked herring,1,850 quintals hake, 100 quintals cod, 25 quintals haddock, 25 quintals cusk, and 21 barrels fish oil firom Maine, and 1,675 barrels fish-oil from Tiverton, R. L

" These fish were landed by the following schooners: Venus, of Eastport, Me. A. C. Newhall, of New Castle, N. H. Franklin S. Schenck and Mary S. Hontvet, of Portsmouth, N.H. ; E. A. Williams of Boston, Mass; Mary E. Story, of Swampscott, Mass.; and Clara R. Grimes, Estelle S. Nunan, and Edith Conley, of Rockport, Mass.


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By W.A. Wilcox

The Bay of Fundy frozen herring business during the past winter has been much below the average. Herring were scarce much of the time, and the business was more or less restricted by our fishery com plications with the Provinces. The following table gives the quantities brought by Gloucester vessels:

After touching and reporting at Gloucester, a few of these vessels proceeded to Boston and disposed of their fish for bait and food, though the larger portion was sold at Gloucester for bait.

The cargoes mentioned in the above table constituted the bulk of the receipts by American sailing vessels from the Bay of Fundy, though the schooners Venus and Flora Wooster, of Eastport, brought 320,000 and 53,000, respectively, and the Charles H. Kelley, of Boston, brought 160,000. The fish brought by the first-named vessels were obtained at Saint George, and those by the last-named from Grand Manan. In addition to those brought by sailing craft, large quantities of frozen herring were shipped by rail and steamer from Eastport and other fishery centers, to the principal markets of the New England and Middle States.