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peaceably carried on together, as in Upper Loch Fyne, above Otter Spit, and in the Kyles of Bute, but these powers should be enforced merely as a matter of police.
Another Koyal Commission reported on the subject a few years later. It was composed of Sir James Caird, Professor Huxley, and Mr. G. ShawLefevre. In 1864 they visited the Clyde districts, and in their report* they said—" We are unable to find any satisfactory proof, in the evidence that Las been brought before us, that trawling or circle-net fishing for herrings is, when properly practised, wasteful, or destructive to the brood and spawn of the herring. We are of opinion that it has been and may be a very important means of supplying the market with au abundance of fish, and that, not unfrequently, under circumstances which preclude the capture of herrings by the drift-net fishermeu." They pointed out that it was perfectly clear that there are times when the "trawl" will take fish when none can be caught by the drift-net. They declared their opinion that, except in a certain specified locality (Upper Loch Fyne and the Kyles of Bute), no justification whatever existed for the suppression of seine-net fishing for herrings, and they recommended the repeal of the Acts.
It appears that the firm enforcement of the Acts by the Board of Fisheries had brought about a change in the opinions of the fishermen themselves, who, when the drift-net failed to take the herrings they knew to be present in the loch, were prevented from using the seine by which they might have been caught. By an Act passed in 1867t it was made lawful to fish for and take herrings and herring fry at all places on the coasts of Scotland, in any manner of way, and by means of any kind of net having meshes not less than the regulation size of one inch from knot to knot, and the sections in the Acts of 1851, I860, and 1861 which referred to seine-net fishing for herrings were repealed by the Sea Fisheries Act of 1868.
The restoration of the liberty to use the seine-uet was received with great satisfaction by the fishermen generally. They had petitioned that the liberating Act might be hastened, and when intelligence was received in July, 1867, that the Act had received the royal assent there was much rejoicing. The fishermen in Upper Loch Fyne, who had been the most resolute opponents of seining some years before, provided themselves with seine-nets, the fishing was carried on throughout the season almost entirely with such nets, and the Officers reported that there were no complaints of any kind. Except for a short period in September, scarcely any drift-nets were employed, and then mostly because the men were not possessed of seines. They were, moreover, singularly unsuccessful, catching hardly any herrings.
In the season of 1868, however, a change occurred. When the fishing opened, and for a few weeks afterwards, seines alone were used, but then it was found that the drift-net was more successful than the seine, and as the season advanced more and more of the boats put aside the seines and employed drift-nets, which continued the more successful until the end of the year. The reason given by the Fishery Officer was that the herrings kept more than usual out in the deep water, where at that time the seinenet could not be well used. In 1869 the fishing began in the same way and drift-nets gradually replaced the semes. At the end of June 190 boats used seine-nets and 51 drift-nets; by the middle of July, half the
* Report of the Commissioners appointed to inquire into the Sea Fisheries of the United Kingdom, Vol. I., 1866.
t " An Act to Alter and Amend the Acts relating to the British White Herring Fishery, 1857," 30 and 31 Viet., c. 52.
fleet of boats wero using drift-nets; in the middle of August, 285 boats employed drift-nets and 167 seines; by the end of August, 270 boats used drifts and 128 seines. In September, however, heavy catches began to be got by the seines, and for a week or two these nets were chiefly employed. In the seasons of 1870 and 1871 the drift-net was also more successful than the seine, and was much more used.
Fishermen thus became accustomed to use either the seine-net or the drift-net according to which was the more profitable, and harmony prevailed among drifters and seiners во long as herrings were abundant and the fishing successful. The year 1868, the first year since 1851 in which the use of the seine-net was lawful throughout the whole season (although, as just stated, the drift-net was chiefly employed), the yield of the fishery was very high, amounting for Loch Fyne to 39,795 crans, or about 139,280 cwts. From that year to 1873 and 1874 there \vai a gradual decline in the productiveness of the Loch Fyne herring fishery, and, although, as mentioned above, the drift-net was mostly employed, the seine-net began again to be held responsible for the falling-off in the catch. In 1874 the local Members of Parliament (the Marquis of Lome for the County of Argyll, Mr C. Dalrymple for the County of Bute, and Sir William J. M. Cuninghame for the Ayr Bnrghs) undertook an enquiry with a view to ascertain, if possible, what had occasioned the decline. They were attended by the Assistant Inspector of Fisheries (Mr George Roiach), and visited the different localities, collecting the opinions of fishermen and others, and they submitted a report to the Government in the following year.* They stated that they had examined the antagonistic opinions of the drifters and seiners with great care, and by the light of all the information they oould collect, and they were not satisfied that the "trawl-net," though possibly in some cases a destructive and wasteful engine of fishing, was the cause of the evil. The fact could not be explained away that the herrings were at that time disinclined to enter other narrow waters where "trawling" was unknown. Other theories had been suggested to them—such as, that the temperature of the air or water or the amount of rainfall might have affected the fish injuriously, or that the natural food of the herrings might have failed from natural causes—for which theories, however, they thought the evidence was very slight. On the whole they were inclined to the opinion that the fishing had been carried on to too great an extent in the narrow waters, and they recommended that steps should be taken to restrict it to a certain extent. They recommended that the annual close-time from lit February to 1st June (which was established by the Act 28 and 29 Vic. с 22, 1865) should be strictly enforced; that the weekly close-time should be extended so that, north of a line drawn from the Mull of Galloway to the Mull of Kintyre, it should begin at 6 p.m. on Saturday and last till midnight on Sunday; that the old regulation against daylight fishing should be renewed and enforced, and that the regulation regarding the dimensions of the mesh of herring nets, which was much neglected, should be enforced.
In 1877 another Commission, consisting of Mr. Frank Buckland, Sir Spencer Walpole, and Mr. Archibald Young, inquired into the subject of the Scottish herring fishing, including the use and effect of the seine-net in Loch Fyne. They came to the same general conclusions as the previous Commissions had done, expressing the opinion that "trawling" involved little, if any, more waste than drift-net fishing. They also agreed that, as a mere matter of police, it was
'Report by the Commissioners of the Fishery Board for Scotland of their Proceedings in the Year ended 31st December, 1875, p. 3.
desirable to give power to prohibit the use of the seiue in Upper Loch Fyne and in other narrow waters less than one mile wide.
By the Sea Fisheries Eegulation (Scotland) Act, 1895, power was given to the Fishery Board, by bye-law or bye-laws, to prohibit seine trawling within any area or areas within the limits specified in the sixth section of the Herring Fishery (Scotland) Act, 1889, or in the schedule annexed to it; and a bye-law was passed in 1901 prohibiting the use of the seine-net for herrings on Ballantrae Bank and neighbouring waters, as defined therein.*
While, as shown above, the seine-net is less effective at some periods than the drift-net, there is no doubt that, taken on the whols, it is the most successful method prosecuted in the Firth of Clyde, and its use has extended considerably in recent years.
The statistics showing the extent to which the various modes of fishing have been practised in the various districts in the Firth of Clyde do not extend very far back, but in the following Table the particulars are given for four of the five districts in the years 1899-1901, and for the five districts, and the whole area, in the years 1902-1906 :—
* Twentieth Annual Rtport, Part I., p. 258.
Thb Fluctuations From Year To Year.
The statistics relating to the herring fishery in the Clyde which are available are of two kinds—those which have been printed in the published Annual Reports, and those derived from the books of the Fishery Officers of the various districts. The former go back for a long period, nearly a century, to the year 1809, when the Board of British White Herring Fishery was established. They would, therefore, on this account be very valuable for the purpose of this enquiry if they had contained the information required. Unfortunately, those relating to the quantity of herrings taken or landed deal only with the cured fish, no note having been made until comparatively recent years of the quantity used in a fresh state. In the earlier part of the period it is probable that the proportion of herrings made use of in the non-salted condition, unless quite locally, was small; but in the later part of the period there is no doubt that it was very large, and included the greater portion of the catches. These statistics for each year from 1809 to 1906, and for each district as well as for the whole Clyde area, are given in Table I., p. 100, which shows the number of barrels of herrings cured on board vessels and landed in the district, the number of vessels on which the fish were cured, the number of barrels cured on shore, and the total number cured from both sources. During the period some changes took place as regards the limits of the various districts, as indicated in the Table, and one or two of them include parts of the West Coast not within the Firth of Clyde. Thus, the fishing at Islay from the year 1821 on wards was included in the Campbeltown district, while from 1850 to 1862 the whole of the returns referring to this district were included in the Inveraray district. Another example is the Stranraer district, which from 1821 on includes Dumfries, while in the period 1850-1862 the returns were included in the Greenock district, whereas after 1863 a new district of Ballantrae was formed which corresponded to the previous Stranraer district. It is also to be noted in regard to the barrels of herrings cured on board vessels that the statistics refer only to those which were landed in a district, and do not give any clue to the locality where the herrings were caught. In point of fact, the greater part of such herrings were taken outside the limits of the Firth of Clyde, and especially in the lochs of the West Coast further to the north. Still, with all these limitations the figures are instructive as showing in a broad way the progress of the herring fishery in the Clyde during the greater part of last century.
When the figures are arranged in decennial periods and the annual mean for each taken, the results are as shown in the following Table :—