Scarcity of Cod and Haddock on the coast of Maine
By N.V.Tibbetts [Letter to Prof. S. F. Baird.] February 27, 1886

I resided for fifteen years, from 1855 to 1870, near the coast of Maine. Most all farmers, like myself, were fishermen at times, and relied on catching our yearly supply of fish of various kinds, especially codfish and haddock; but these fish have long since deserted Penobscot Bay and Eggemoggin Reach, and few are loft but young herring, which are caught and converted into "sardines."

If the fish do not come back themselves, and it is evident from their long absence that they will not, the fishermen and farmers along our coast must look to you to coax them back or give us a new supply. If you will do so we will try to have a law passed, if there is not one already, that may protect them from being driven away by the fisher men, as the original supply was. In my opinion, the reason why the fish left our shores was because the fishermen took to using troll-lines.

Some say the steamboat was the cause, but I don't think that is so. Codfish know no more what is going on at the surface than we know about the bottom. I have caught haddock and cod where the steam- boat had been over the water every day for years, and in not over ten fathoms of water at that.

We used to row out on the Reach two or three hundred yards from shore, and in a few hours were as sure of catching a few hundred pounds of haddock and some cod as we were sure to -find potatoes by pulling up the tops and digging where we had planted the seed in the spring. But after two or three years of using the troll-lines, leaving the fish to die on the hook at the bottom, a man might as well stay at home and fish for haddock in the well he would catch just as many; but the trollers at that time, I remember, claimed that the steamboats drove the fish out of our Reach.

I have faith that you can help us out of our present trouble, and restore, in a measure, the supply of cod and haddock along our coast. Please inform me what steps are necessary to procure a number of young fish for Eggemoggin Reach, in Hancock County, Maine. Haddock were the fish that mostly frequented that place. Can young haddock be procured from your hatchery at Wood's Holl, Mass?
BROOKLIN, ME., February 27, 1886.


I have read with much interest your letter relating to the abundance and disappearance of fish in Penobscot Bay. It is a very difficult matter to say positively what has been the most potent of the many causes for the disappearance of fish from their accustomed haunts. I think, however, I can answer with some certainty that it is within our power, by means of artificial propagation, to restock waters and re-establish such fish as cod and haddock in localities where they formerly abounded.

From the experiments which have already been made, it can be asserted with considerable confidence that a school of cod may be established in any given locality by constant deposits of fish produced by artificial means.

I trust that, in the course of time, we shall be enabled to extend the work now being carried on at Wood's Holl and Gloucester, all along the coast of the Northeastern States.
WASHINGTON, D. C., March 2, 1886.