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price; and 2,000,000 or people are nearly pro- establish a second, until the middle of the last hibited from the use of an article of food, which century, when an act was passed, in the year might be applied to the diminishing of the con- 1749, 'for making a free market for the sale of sumption of butchers' meat and wheat-corn, to fish in the city of Westminster; and for prethe great relief of the whole kingdom.'
venting the forestalling and monopolising of The committee of the fish association' have fish.' Yet, strange and unaccountable as it may enumerated four principal impediments to an appear, this act was then, and has since remained increased supply and distribution, of which they a dead letter. Westminster, since that time, has strongly recommend the removal by all practi- increased its population at least three-fold, and cable
means. The first, wbich, in fact, produces is still without a fish-market. The act has the rest, is the restriction of the market to Bil never been repealed, and requires only the noiingsgate; the second is the doubt and hesitation mination of new and more efficient commissionof fishermen in bringing up to this only market ers to carry it into effect. If, in the vicinity of so large a quantity of fish as they might pro- all the bridges across the Thames, fish-markets cure, under an uncertain demand for it; the were once established, the fishermen of Deal, third, the difficulty and the increased expense of Dover, Hastings, Brighton, and other parts of distribution from their above-mentioned remote the coasts of Kent and Sussex, would amply market; and the fourth, the uncertainty of the supply those markets by land-carriage, with the price, and the total ignorance in which the ordinary kinds of fish, in addition to the more public are kept as to the daily state of the valuable kinds brought up the Thames; and it supply.
could not fail to increase the general use of fish • The evils of the Billingsgate monopoly,' in and about London, if, when the Regent's says the foregoing writer, are strongly exem- canal shall be opened, two or three fish-markets plified in the case of mackerel, which is known were established near it for the supply of Islingto be scarcest in the market when most ton, Pancras, Paddington, and the whole line of abundant in the British channel: then, indeed, London along the New Road, containing an imthe mackerel fishery is abandoned by the fisher- mense population almost entirely cut off from men for two reasons; the one is, that they would the use of fish. The only arguments in favor be too cheap; the other, the difficulty of distri- of keeping back the fish, and throwing them bution, which is effected by fisherwomen, who overboard, is the frequent westerly wind which attend daily at Billingsgate to purchase the prevents the fishing-vessels from proceeding to mackerel, and carry them for sale to the diffe- the market up the Thames; but that excuse is rent parts of the town: the attendance of these now done away by the numerous steam-vessels, women secures to the fishermen a regular custom which could easily tow up the fishing-boats.' for their fish; but this laborious, and not always With regard, therefore, to the country at large, profitable employment, is abandoned as soon as the demand for fish has, for a great length of the common fruit comes into season, the carriers time, become too unsteady and unimportant to and distributors finding the sale of strawberries, ensure that regular mercantile supply which the gooseberries, currants, &c., a more pleasant and natural abundance of fish all around us, the inprofitable occupation, with less risk and trouble. exhaustible natural supply, would teach us to All the mackerel which may arrive at this period, expect. We are much surprised that spirited beyond the estimated demand of the fishmongers, individuals in the interior parts of Great Brihowever fresh and good, is thrown into the tain are not found to undertake the regular transThames. Perhaps, therefore, in the case of this mission of it from the coasts ; to stimulate the particular fish, a free and unrestricted use of salt demand, and regulate the supply as a matter of inight be the means of procuring and preserving trade: but into the vortex of London monopoly a considerable stock of palatable and nutritious this great article of human subsistence has been food. It is the more surprising that these impe- drawn; and a great length of time, and many diments to a more extended use of fish in the mercantile revolutions, may be necessary to remetropolis, so obviously arising out of the char cover it from it. tered privilege of Billingsgate, should so long We should, perhaps, add, that the salt duties have been suffered to exist, especially as nothing (lately repealed) largely contributed to the dismore is required for the dissolution of this inju- use of salt-fish in this country. rious monopoly than the establishment of new Certain it is that the fisheries have not always markets. The evils of this monopoly are not of languished for want of public encouragement. recent date. In early times, there appears to In 1580 a plan was formed for raising £80,000 have been a regularly established fish-market at for establishing • The British Fishery. In 1615 Queenhithe. In the first year of Henry III., the same sum was raised by a joint-stock com1226, the constable of the Tower was ordered to pany. In 1632 a Royal Fishing company was compel the boats, arriving with fish, to proceed established under the sanction of Charles I.; to that market; and Edward IV. directed that who, in order to increase the demand, prohibited two out of three vessels, arriving with fish, the importation of foreign fish, directed a supply should proceed to Queenhithe, and the other to be furnished for his feet, and ordered Lent remain at Billingsgate. At that period, the po- to be more strictly observed. In 1660 parliapulation of London, and its environs, appears ment granted a remission of the salt duties, and to have been about a twenty-fourth part of its freed all the materials employed in the fisheries present amount, yet it had then two fish-markets. from customs and excise. The market of Queenhithe, however, was suf The national fishery met with great encouragefered to drop; and we hear of no attempt to ment under the auspices of Charles II. In
1677 this monarch incorporated the duke of ring Fishery, not on the Tonnage Bounty, in the
Ves. Men. Tonnage. Netting. Salt.
Barrels, In 1713 it was proposed to raise £180,000 on annuities, for the purpose of establishing a fish Num. Num. Tons. Sq. Yards. Bushels. Numb. ing company. In 1749 by the recommendation of George II. in his opening speech to Parlia
884 | 4049 (26,95139/2,490,660 224,133 |1251851 ment, and, in consequence of a report of a committee of the house of commons, the sum of £500,000 was subscribed for carrying on the
The returns for the same year of the total fisheries, under a corporation, by the name of number of vessels which were fitted out in “The Society of the Free British Fishery," of Scotland, for the "Open Sea Fishery,' under the which the Prince of Wales was chosen the go- regulations of the 48th and 55th Geo. III., is as
under :vernor. This society, patronised by men of the first rank, promised fair for a little time, but
Premiums soon began to languish; nor was the large
Ves. Tonnag. Men. Netting. Herrings. Paid. bounty of 56s. a ton, able to prevent its total failure. The attention of parliament was again
Num. Tons. Num. Sq. Yards. Barrels. £. called to this great national object in 1786, when a new corporation was formed, under the name
19 46438 139 191,638 9462 1308 0 0 of “The British Society for Extending the Fisheries and Improving the Sea Coasts of the Kingdom,' which has continued, with various North Britain takes the lead in all our domodifications, to the present time.
mestic fisheries. The whole coast of Scotland Parliament also has been liberal in encou- may indeed be considered as one contimued raging the fisheries by bounties. A committee fishery, distinguished by the names of the Shetof the house of commons, in 1785, reported land, or northern fishery, that on the east side of that the herring-fishery cost the country little the kingrom from the Pentland frith to Berwick, short of £20,000 annually, which, on an average and the western or Hebrides fishery. The prinof ten years, was equal to £75 per cent. on the cipal town on the Shetland Islands is called value of all the fish that had been taken by the Lerwic, situated on a narrow channel of the vessels on which it was paid. But, as Dr. Main-land, called Brassa or Brassey Sound. Smith has observed, a tonnage-bounty, propor- Hither the Dutch and other foreigners have been tioned to the bumlen of the ship, and not to her accustomed to resort to the fisheries at the apdiligence and success in the fishery, is not the pointed seasons, when Lerwic has had all the best stimulus to exertion; it was an encourage- appearance of a continued market or fair. The ment for fitting out ships to catch, not the fish, eastern fisheries along the shores of Scotland, but the bounty; or to induce rash adventurers though less considerable than those on the coasts to engage in concerns which they do not under- of Shetland, are also of great national imporstand. The carelessness of such persons, and tance. The late war, however, drove our Dutch the ignorance of those employed by them in neighbours from their haunts. In 1819 Mr. curing and packing the fish, not only robbed the Stevenson, the celebrated engineer, thus despublic purse, but destroyed the character of the cribes their re-appearance there; and adds so article in the foreign market; where, if saleable many useful reflections on the subject of the at all, it fetched only an inferior price, while the fisheries of Scotland, that we transcribe the skill and attention of the Dutch secured for their principal part of his paper on the subject originfish that preference to which they were justly ally communicated to the Edinburgh Philosoentitled. The recent change of the bounty, phícal Journal. however, from the tonnage to the quantity and "In the early part of August last (1819), the quality of the fish caught and cured, with the while sailing along the shores of Kincardine regulations adopted by the acts of 48th and shire, about ten miles off Dunottar Castle, the 55th Geo. (II. have had the good effect of raising watch upon deck, at midnight
called out the character, and consequently increasing the Lights a-head.' Upon a nearer approach, these demand for British fish in the foreign markets, lights were found to belong to a small fleet of where the herrings in particular are now held in Dutch fishermen employed in the deep-sea fishequal esteem with those of the Dutch. This ing, eash vessel having a lantern at her mastbounty, granted by the act 48th Geo. III. c. 110, head. What success these plodding people had
25. per barrel on all herrings branded by the met with, our crew had no opportunity of en-
boats, containing five men each, had commenced The following is an official return, for the year the fishing-season here six weeks before, and had ending 5th April
, 1818, of the total number of that night caught no less than about 1500 barrels vessels
, including their repeated voyages, which of herrings, which, in a general way, when there is have been cleared outwards for the British Her- a demand for fish, may be valued at £1 sterling
£30 000 a-year.
in former years,
per barrel to the fishermen, and may be regarded many leagues to the south-westward, the British as adding to the wealth of the country perhaps merchants have made a vast accession to their not less than £3000. In coasting along between fishing-grounds. In the small picturesque Bay Fraserburgh and the Orkney Islands, another of Scalloway, and in some of the other bays and fleet of Dutch fishermen was seen at a distance. voes on the wes ern side of the Mainland of The harbour and bay of Wick were crowded Shetland, the fishing upon this new bank with fishing-boats and busses of all descriptions, (which I hunbly presume to term the Regent collected from the Frith of Forth, and southward Fishing Bank, a name at once calculated to even as far as Yarmouth and Lowestoffe. The mark the period of its discovery, and pay a proCaithness fishing was said to have been pretty per compliment to the prince), has been pursued successful, though not equal to what it has been with great success. Here small sloops, of from
fifteen to twenty-five tons burden, and manned • In the Orkney and Shetland Islands, one with eight persons, have been employed. In the would naturally look for extensive fishing esta- beginning of August they had this summer fished blishments, both in herrings and what are termed for twelve weeks, generally returning home with white fish, (cod, ling, and tusk); but it is a cu their fish once a week. On an average, these rious fact, that while the Dutch have long come vessels had caught 1000 fine cod-fish a-week, of from their own coast to these islands to fish her- which about 600, in a dried state, go to the ton, rings, it is only within a very few years that the and these they would have gladly sold at about people of Orkney, chiefly by the spirited and £15 per ton. So numerous are the fish upon the praise-worthy exertions of Samuel Laing, esq., Regent Fishing Bank, that a French vessel
, behave given any attention to this important longing, it is believed, to St. Maloes, had sailed source of wealth. It has long been a practice with her second cargo of fish this season; and with the great fishmongers of London to send though the fishermen did not mention this under their welled smacks to fish for cod, and to pur- any apprehension, as though there were danger chase lobsters, around the Orkney islands; and of the fish becoming scarce, yet they seemed to both are carried alive to the London market. regret the circumstance, on account of their This trade has done much good to these islands, market being thus pre-occupied. and has brought a great deal of money to them; • Here, and at Orkney, we had the pleasure to but still it is of a more circumscribed nature, see many ships arriving from the whale-fishing, and is less calculated to swell the national and parting with a certain proportion of their wealth, than the herring and white fishery in crews. To such an extent, indeed, are the crews general.
of the whalers made up from these islands, that • Hitherto the industry of the Orcadians has it is calculated that not less than £15,000 in cash heen chiefly directed to farming pursuits; while are annually brought into the islands by this the Shetlanders have been almost exclusively oc means. With propriety, therefore, may the cupied in the cod, ling, and tusk fishing. It is whale-fishery be regarded as one of the most doubtful, indeed, if
, up to this period, there be productive sources of national wealth connected a single boat belonging to the Shetland Isles, with the British fisheries. which is completely equipped for the herring • From the Orkney and Shetland Islands our tishery. But here, again, another fleet of Dutch course was directed to the westward. A consiJoggers was seen collecting in numbers off these derable salmon-fishing seems to be carried on in islands, which is considered a rich harvest in the mouths of the rivers of Lord Reay's Country Holland. So systematically do the Dutch pursue in Sutherlandshire: the fish are carried from this the fishing business upon our coasts, that their to Aberdeen, and from thence in regular trading fleet of busses is accompanied by an hospital- smacks to London. We heard little more of ship. This vessel we now found at anchor in any kind of fishing till we reached the Harris Lei wick Roads, and were informed that she paid Isles. There, and throughout the numerons lochs weekly visits to the fleet, to supply medicines, and fishing stations on the Mainland, in the disand to receive any of the people falling sick, or tricts of Gairloch, Applecross, Lochalsh, Glemeeting with any accident.
nelg, Moidart, Knoidart, Ardnamurchan, Mull, * Though Shetland is certainly not so much an Lorn, and Kintyre, we understood that there was agricultural country as Orkrey, yet it may be a general lamentation for the disappearance of hoped that the encouragement judiciously held herrings, which in former times used to crowd out by the Highland Society, for the production into lochs which they seem now to have in some of green crops in Shetland, may eventually have measure deserted. This the fishermen suppose the effect of teaching these insular farmers the to be owing to the schools being broken and dipracticability of providing fodder for their cattle vided about the Shetland and Orkney Islands; in the spring of the year. For ages past this and they remark, that, by some unaccountable has been a great desideratum. The command of change in the habits of the fish, the greater numa month or six weeks fodder, would enable the ber now take the east coast of Great Britain. proprietors of that country to stock many of their This is the more to be regretted, that in Sky, the fine verdant isles with cattle, and to employ their Lewis, Harris, and Uist Islands, the inhabitants hardy tenantry more exclusively in the different have of late years turned their attention much 10 branches of the fishery.
the fishing. Indeed this has followed as a matter It is well known, that, next to the Newfound- of necessity, from the general practice of conland Banks, those of Shetland are the most pro- verting the numerous small arable farms, which ductive in ling, cod, tusk, an
other white fish; were perhaps neither very us to the tenants, and by the recent discovery of a bank, trending nor profitable to the laird, into great sheep
walks; so that the inhabitants are now more shire seas, he says, is from fourteen to forty generally assembled upon the coast. The large pounds. The grand bank of Newfoundland is sums expended in the construction of the Cale- about seventy miles from it, and is 400 miles in donian Canal, have either directly or indirectly length, and 200 in breadth, not including the become a source of wealth to these people: they Jaquet and Green Banks, &c.; the greatest and have been enabled to furnish themselves with best part of it lies to the south and east of the boats and fishing tackle, and for one fishing- island. The depth of water, according to goboat, which was formerly seen in the Hebrides vernor Pownall's chart, varies from twenty-four only twenty years ago, it may be safely affirmed to sixty fathoms. The greatest number, as well that ten are to be met with now. If the same as the fattest and bulkiest fish, are to be found spirit shall continue to be manifested, in spite of where the water is rough, with a sandy ground; all the objections which have been urged against on the contrary, they are lean and scarce where the salt laws, and the depopulating effects of the water is still
, upon an oozy bottom; and the emigration, the British fisheries in these islands, depth to which they seem mostly attached, is and along this coast, with a little encourage- from thirty to forty fathoms. All the immense ment will be wonderfully extended, and we shall fishery of these shores is carried on by hook and ere long see the Highlands and islands of Scot- line only. In spring and summer they use land in that state to which they are peculiarly short, and in winter long lines, on account of the adapted, and in which alone their continued cod keeping nearer the bottom in that season, prosperity is to be looked for, viz.--when their and which (according to the fisherman's phrasevalleys, muirs, and mountains are covered with ology) they always keep bobbing, that is playing Aocks, and the people are found in small villages backwards and forwards by little and tremulous on the shores.'
jerks of the hand and arm, by which means, as
in angling, the line and hook are in continual Sect. I.-OF THE Cod FISHERY.
motion; and, feeling the fish the moment he
bites, they instantly haul him up. They are, The cod, gadus morhua of Linné, peculiar to therefore, all caught by the lip or mouth, which the Northern Seas, is the most extensive fishery saves a great deal of time, as the fisherman is of which Great Britain can boast; and which immediately enabled to renew the bait, not is well known to have its principal rendezvous having to extricate the hook either from the on the banks of Newfoundland, and the neigh- gorge or stomach; besides, they are all taken bourhood. It extends itself in a greater or less alive, without being torn or mangled, a considedegree over all the shores of our islands in Eu- ration of no small importance. In this manner, rope. See Gadus. It is a gregarious and very on the cold and uncomfortable banks of NewForacious fish; and is sometimes found to devour foundland, each expert fisherman, although he its own species : we need only add here that it can take but one at a time, will catch from 200 is prolific almost beyond belief. Leuwenhoeck to 300 of their heavy fish in a day. counted 9,384,000 eggs in a cod fish of a mid Almost all the civilised nations of the old dling size; Mr. Hanmer 3,686,750 in one world have endeavoured to avail themselves of which weighed 12,540 grains. The flesh is flaky, this inexhaustible source of cod-fish. The Porwhite, and firm, exceedingly. palatable and tuguese, the Dutch, and the Spaniards, the first wholesome: and held in high estimation in especially, were ever very successful here: but every part of the world. In our seas they begin the French, the Jersey and Guernsey islanders, to spawn in January, and deposit their eggs in and the Americans, are now the only competitors rough ground among the rocks. Some continue with Great Britain. in roe till the beginning of April. They in ge The entire fishery is conducted by vessels of Deral recover quicker after spawning than any from 100 to 200 tons burden each. They are other fish; therefore it is common to take some mostly fitted out from Guernsey, Jersey, Ireland, good ones all the summer. When out of sea and ports in the English Channel, as Poole, son, they are thin-tailed, and much infested with Dartmouth, &c.; they carry about 35,000 fish the lernea asellina, on the inside of their mouths. each, upon an average; their chief markets are The fish of a middling size are most esteemed, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and the Levant; for the and are chosen by their plumpness and round- other parts of Europe are commonly provided ness, especially near the tail; by the depth of with those taken in the British Seas, the Dogger, the fulcus or pit behind the head; and by the Wale, or Wese Banks, and the North Sea. There regular undulated appearance of the sides, as are besides these large vessels, at least 2000 if they were ribbed. The glutinous parts small-decked craft, or shallops, from twelve to about the head lose their delicate flavor, after twenty tons burden, rigged like the luggers in having been twenty-four hours out of the water, England employed in the fisheries along the even in winter, when these and other fish of this shores of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and the genus are in highest season. One mentioned by islands of Cape Breton, a great part of whose Mr. Pennant, as the largest that he ever heard of hands is taken up on land, in erecting stages, taken on our coasts, weighed seventy-eight pounds, and in curing and drying their fish. the length was five feet eight inches, and the girth At a period (1801-2) when our exports from round the shoulders five feet. It was taken at this valuable colony did not much exceed oneScarborough in 1755, and was sold for a shilling. half of their value two years afterwards, the But the general weight of these fish in the York- following was the
Official Estimate of the Value of the Exports from NEWFOUNDLAND, i.e. between the 11th of October 1801, and the 10th of October 1802; distin
guishing the COUNTRIES to which they were sent, and the REMITTANCES proceeding therefrom to Great Britain.
Freight and Insurance.
47,7598) £61,874 11s. paid for
6 4,517 18
4,517 18 freight on ships owned
and fitted out in Great
Britain, cleared out from
7,6890 Newfoundland for BriSalmon 4,033 Tierces . Various
0 10 O per Tierce 2,016 10 O say one balf to Gr. Brit.
1,008 5 | tish and Foreign Europe,
29 5 Men 1,775
Deduct the value of foreign
salt, say 12,000 tons at 12,000
£i per ton, Lowest value of Imports and Remittances from the Newfoundland Fishery to the United Kingdom in the year 1802, £611,159 10