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The Dundee trawl fleet of 9 steam vessels landed regular supplies, chiefly from the Bell Rock and Tay Buoy grounds. Occasional shots were also landed at Dundee by Aberdeen vessels on passage to Firth of Forth ports for bunkers. There were in all 685 arrivals at Dundee, representing 2,281 days' absence from port, and the aggregate catch amounted to 52,245 cwts., valued at £66,178, as compared with 837 arrivals, 2,606 days, 59,417 cwts. and £65,306 in the previous year. The earnings per day's absence last year averaged £28, 18s. and were higher than in any year since 1921.
Only a few Granton trawlers were employed on the West Coast grounds prior to June, but the fleet was then increased to 19 vessels, which were fairly regularly employed until October, when the majority returned to the East Coast. Operations on the West Coast were conducted chiefly on the Dubh Artach and Skerryvore grounds and heavy catches were secured, especially in August and September, when several vessels earned over £1,000 for three weeks' fishing. Expenses were heavy owing to the increased cost of bunker coal, which was obtained mostly at Ayr. The arrivals at Oban numbered 328 and at Ayr 173, and the landings at both ports were again consigned to Glasgow. The aggregate landings by steamers at the two ports amounted to 85,179 cwts., valued at £97,032, as compared with 65,761 cwts. and £75,192 in 1925. The gross earnings of trawlers working from West Coast ports were much higher than those of vessels working from East Coast ports, amounting to £43 per day's absence as against £25 to £30 at Aberdeen, Leith and Dundee.
6. GREAT LINING.
Great-line fishing, like trawling, is based chiefly on the port of Aberdeen, where during the year 80 per cent. of the great-line catch was landed. The fleet belonging to the port consists of large sized steamers comparable with the largest trawlers, which are employed throughout the year on the edge of the continental shelf,-off Rockall, St. Kilda, Lousy Bank and the West of Ireland. Besides the regular fleet other vessels are employed in great-line fishing for part of the year, but the total number of arrivals at Aberdeen last year by steam vessels working great lines was only 981 as compared with 1,334 in 1925, while the average gross earnings per day's absence were £22 as against £19.
Very moderate catches were secured on the grounds on the edge of the continental shelf, ling and halibut being exceptionally scarce. The Faroe grounds on the other hand yielded a much heavier catch than usual, especially in the last quarter of the year when cod and codling were abundant, and this area accounted for 30 per cent. of the aggregate landings at Aberdeen. The line catch from Iceland was not important, there being only 17 arrivals from that area as against 22 in 1925.
A fleet of 50 drifters belonging to Peterhead was employed
from Aberdeen with lines in the interval between the winter and summer herring fishings, but the gross earnings amounted to only £618 per vessel for an average of 11 weeks' fishing.
Great-line fishing is also conducted by drifters belonging to the East Coast from the West Coast ports of Mallaig and Oban. The season extends from January to April, and in 1926 the catch landed at the two ports amounted to 21,062 cwts., valued at £19,651, as compared with 21,375 cwts. and £24,709 in the previous year. In addition to the fall in the gross earnings the expenses for bait were higher, and the net earnings of 26 Fraserburgh boats averaged only £100 for the season. As usual the catch consisted chiefly of skates and rays, cod and codling, conger eels, and hake. During the early months of the year a small fleet of East Coast steamers was also employed from Stranraer and secured good catches in Belfast Lough and off the Mull of Cantyre. Competition at this port was keen, and the earnings per vessel amounted to £1,313 as against £899 in 1925. Line catches were also landed at Stornoway by East Coast drifters working in the Minch chiefly during February and March. The aggregate landings of line fish at Stornoway were less than in 1925, but the liner crews secured higher earnings than those employed in herring fishing from the same port.
7. SMALL AND HAND LINING.
The revival in small and hand lining referred to in the Report for 1925 was again manifest during 1926 when the landings amounted to 322,087 cwts., valued at £326,803, as compared with 274,666 cwts. and £289,377 in 1925. The bulk of the catch was again secured off the Forfar and Kincardine coast, in the Moray Firth, and off Shetland; and the whole of the West Coast and adjacent islands accounted for less than 10 per cent. of the aggregate. The most intensive fishing off the Forfar and Kincardine coast took place during the first two and last two months of the year. The average shot in that area for the year realised £5, 6s. as compared with £4, 6s. in 1925. In the Moray Firth area also better results were secured than in the previous year, but Shetland crews had poor earnings owing to the lower prices realised there. Haddocks accounted for more than one half of the total catch, and the average price for this species obtained at Shetland was only 16s. 2d. per cwt., as compared with 238. 3d. for Scotland as a whole. In the intervals between herring fishings, hand-line fishing was vigorously prosecuted from Fraserburgh and other ports where herring fishermen reside, but earnings from this source were poor even when conditions were most favourable.
8. WHITE FISH FISHING BY NETS.
Apart from trawls and lines the principal methods of capture are by means of seine nets and anchored cod nets, but the
combined catch by these methods is relatively unimportant, amounting to less than 5 per cent. of the total catch of demersal fish.
Seine Net Fishing.-The catch by seine nets, which reached its maximum in 1924, fell off considerably in the following year; but in 1926, although there was again a decrease in the landings by steam vessels, the decline in the aggregate catch was arrested owing to a large increase in the landings by motor boats.
The catch by motor boats was secured chiefly in St. Andrews Bay and vicinity, and in the Firth of Forth, and the landings consisted mainly of plaice. The use of seine nets designed for the capture of haddocks was extended and some good catches were secured, especially off Red Head and the Bell Rock. Steam and motor vessels working in the Moray Firth landed their catches at neighbouring ports or at Aberdeen. Operations in the Firth were not very successful in the early months of the year, but in the autumn good catches of haddocks were secured which realised high prices, and on the return of the herring fleet from their unsuccessful voyage to East Anglia further crews fitted out for this fishing. On the whole motor boats employed in seinenet fishing in Scottish waters had fair earnings, while steamers were less fortunate owing to their heavy expenses.
A few Moray Firth steam vessels were employed off Ailsa Craig in the Clyde area during the early months of the year, while a fleet of 30 vessels belonging to Buckie left in April for the Fisher and Dogger Banks, from which catches are landed chiefly at Grimsby. In each case the large majority of the vessels returned to the Moray Firth on the outbreak of the coal dispute in May..
Cod-Net Fishing.-Nearly half of the total catch taken in Scottish waters by cod nets was secured in the Moray Firth, in which area the season extended from the end of January until the beginning of April. A larger number of vessels, especially steamers and large motor boats, were engaged in the Moray Firth fishery than in the previous year, but the season's catch showed a slight decrease, and prices also were lower, so that the earnings of the crews engaged were less satisfactory. As usual nearly the whole of the catch was despatched in a fresh state chiefly to Glasgow, London and the Midlands.
9. SPRATS, SPARLINGS AND MACKEREL.
Sprat fishing in Scottish waters is confined to the Firths of Forth, Tay and Inverness, and during 1926 was again a failure, the total catch amounting to only 11,180 cwts., valued at £1,746.
The landings of sparlings during the year amounted to only 223 cwts., taken mainly in the Firth of Forth in the winter months.
Mackerel is now only taken incidentally in the course of herring fishing and there is no longer an organised mackerel
fishery in Scottish waters.
The catch in 1926 amounted to 31,492 cwts., valued at £10,871, taken chiefly on the West Coast.
10. CRUSTACEANS AND SHELL FISH.
There was a slight decline in the value of shell fish landed in Scotland in 1926, the total being £98,316, as compared with £100,200 in 1925. More than half of the total value was, as usual, referable to lobsters, which were again taken chiefly in Orkney and the Hebrides and on the north-west mainland coast, and to a less extent on the East Coast from Montrose District southwards. The lobster fishery in the northern and western areas is prosecuted chiefly by crofter fishermen, but on the East Coast by full-time fishermen. Owing to a poor demand the earnings of the Orkney fishermen were disappointing. Low prices were secured also by fishermen working on the north-west coast of the mainland, but the catch was much greater, and the results in their case proved to be the most remunerative for many years. The demand for lobsters captured in the Outer Hebrides was well sustained, but losses were sustained on consignments during May and June owing to the restriction of the transport
Crabs are taken chiefly on the East Coast. Heavier catches were taken during 1926 than in the previous year, and the fishery yielded fair earnings.
Mussels are taken chiefly for disposal to small-line crews for bait and are procured mainly at Montrose and St. Andrews and in the Firths of Tay, Forth, Clyde, Solway and Dornoch. The oysters taken in Scottish waters in 1926 were valued at £579 and were obtained almost entirely in Loch Ryan. The catch of shrimps, taken in the Solway area, showed a fair increase, as did also the yield of whelks and cockles from the Barra beds.
11. FOREIGN LANDINGS.
The landings of demersal fish in Scotland by foreign fishing vessels in 1926 amounted to 934,110 cwts., valued at £437,274, as compared with 1,046,840 cwts. and £541,436 in 1925. The reduction was attributable to the coal dispute. These landings, however, were still much heavier than in 1913, when they amounted to 561,005 cwts.
Particulars of the landings in 1926 and 1925, which were all made at the port of Aberdeen, are as follow:
German trawlers again accounted for the bulk of the foreign landings, but a further increased proportion of the aggregate was contributed by Italian trawlers manned by German crews, which prosecute trawling from a base in Germany. Both German and Italian trawlers secured their catches chiefly at Iceland, from which area came nearly 95 per cent. of the total. The catch from the North Sea, which in 1925 amounted to only 429 cwts., was 17,597 cwts. in 1926, and was landed chiefly by German trawlers during the coal dispute. During 1926 a single shot of cod and codling secured off Greenland was landed in Scotland by a Norwegian motor liner, whereas in the previous year three landings from that region were made by Norwegian steam and motor liners.
As usual the landings by foreign vessels consisted chiefly of cod, saithe and haddocks and were made mostly during the months from March to June, when the heaviest catches are obtained from the spawning shoals.
The following statement, corresponding to that for British vessels printed on p. 30, shows the composition of the aggregate catch by foreign vessels :