« PreviousContinue »
PROJECT whereby, through too small and weak to take or hold a
added to the available fishing sole. Fried in crumbs, and called a grounds of our North Atlantic coast, is "filet,” it is a morsel for the gods. Yet being earnestly advocated by the govern it is nothing more nor less than a flounment Bureau of Fisheries.
der-quite possibly hatched originally at Stretching from Cape Cod to Cape one of the New England stations of the Hatteras is a vast area of sea bottom Fisheries Bureau. During the last fiscal which, though fairly swarming with year the Bureau hatched and liberated valuable finny species, is not fished at all. 889,000,000 such flounders, or "fatfish," Its annual crop, which might feed the at Wood's Hole, Gloucester, and Boothwhole population of the United States, bay. is allowed to go to waste.
Ordinary Far superior, however, is the so-called methods of capture cannot be successfully pole flounder, or deep-sea flounder, which used for most of these bottom fishes occurs in deeper waters. It is in texture especially the soles, whose mouths are and flavor so like the European sole,
though of a different finny genus, that in the North Sea, it represents the prineven an epicure cannot tell the difference. cipal method of capture. But in our own In 1877 it was first discovered in the country it is a novelty. Since the Fishdeepest part of Massachusetts Bay; and eries Bureau went into the business of since then it has been caught south of hatching flounders on so enormous a Cape Cod, at depths of one hundred scale, thus building up a new and imfathoms or more, and by Agassiz off the portant fishery in New England, small entrance of Delaware Bay, at four hun- beam trawls, hauled by sail and motor dred fathoms. The fish is a permanent boats, have been used for catching them, resident throughout the year in the deep and by this means 11,500 barrels were basin of Massachusetts Bay and along taken during the last year off Falmouth the edge of the continental slope for hun- alone—all of them of one species, the dreds of miles up and down the coast. small “winter flounder,” to which efforts
In truth, the sea bottom all the way in the line of artificial propagation are from Massachusetts to the capes of Vir- exclusively devoted. ginia is almost literally paved with floun Recently, however, four steam vessels ders of this valuable species. Al
at Boston have been equipped with though they cannot hold fast to a
large beam trawls. The hook and line, they could be
first time one of caught in incalcula
them went out, a ble quantities by
catch of 25,000 the use of the
pounds of fish was "beam trawl”—a
made, and the net huge pocket-shaped
was carried away. net set in an iron
One should underframe on runners
stand that such a like those of a sled. THE SEA BOTTOM FROM MASSACHUSETTS TO VIRGINIA
net is seventy-five Is PAVED WITH FLOUNDERS. Such a trawl,
feet long, and its dragged over the
mouth fifty feet bottom, picks up
wide, so that, when everything in its
dragged over the path—especially the
sea-bottom, it is bottom fishes.
liable to swallow This form of ap
considerable quanparatus is old
tities of live maenough and famil
terial. The deck of iar enough in Eu
a trawler after a ropean waters,
THE TILE FISH.
haul presents a In 1882, some great sub-ocean catastrophe nearly wiped where, particularly
out this species.
of breakers which fall upon our shores. It is far out in the ocean, beneath the waves. Thus, if the ocean were dried up, a person starting eastward from Atlantic City would have to walk straight on for a distance of about sixty miles before reaching the true edge of the continent. During his journey he would find the sea-floor sloping very gradually downward ; but, at the end of the sixty miles it would suddenly drop almost precipitously to a depth of two and a half miles—the normal depth, that is to say, of the bottom of the ocean. .
It will be seen, then, that the eastern edge of the continent is actually overflowed ; and thus is formed a sort of subaqueous “shelf,” which widens as it runs northward. Whereas opposite Atlantic City it is only sixty miles
wide (its edge being about that far out in the ocean), off Boston it is som e
—writhing conger eels, fierce wolffishes with wickedly snapping jaws, dogfish (always the fisherman's enemies), wide-mouthed “fishing frogs” (which somebody has called "animated carpetbags”), and many other queer-looking finny creatures being scattered among the useful fishes; not to mention huge spider-crabs, mollusks of various kinds, sea anemones, and other invertebrate curiosities ad infinitum.
In order to comprehend the exceptional opportunities offered for beam-trawling in the region here described, one should understand exactly what is meant by the great “continental shelf,” which furnishes a feeding ground for so many kinds of fishes now unknown to our markets.
The eastern edge of the North American continent is not marked by the line
THE FISHERIES BUREAU SCHOONER Grampus.
IN THE YEAR 1892.
GATHERING NEW MARINE CROPS
like one hundred miles in breadth.
The "shelf," as already explained, is the feeding ground of multitudes of edible fishes which, like the Pole flounder, are unknown to our markets for the reason that no practical method has hitherto been applied for their capture. When vessels equipped with steam apparatus for hoisting trawls, such as the four recently built at Boston, exploit the resources of this vast area, the production of fish food on our North Atlantic coast will be multiplied many fold, and the living of great numbers of people will be materially cheapened thereby.
Most important, perhaps, of all the species concerned is the tile fish the estimable finny creature which was the victim only a few years ago of so remarkable a catastrophe. Although supposed at the time to have been thereby rendered extinct actually, it has reappeared, and today is probably as plentiful as ever—that is
to say, plentiful enough to become as important a source of
LOWERING A BEAM TRAWL Fox HALIBUT, food supply as the cod, if it were sought by systematic and proper methods.
dinner and having found it very good, he Piscatorial history states that in 1878 caught a lot more and took them to the fishing schooner William V. Hutch- Gloucester, where he sold them for a ings, under command of an experienced small price. Later on, news of the matter skipper named Kirby, was looking for having been circulated, the Fisheries hake in new waters about one hundred Bureau steamer Fish Hawk went to the miles south of the island of Nantucket, place and captured a few specimens. when, on examining the baited lines Their flesh being declared excellent, it (extended over some miles by an ar was realized that an important discovery rangement of anchors and floats), many had been made, and the government fishes of an entirely unfamiliar species experts decided to make a thorough inwere found attached to the hooks. vestigation, with a view to outlining the Extraordinarily brilliant in color, with area occupied by the new species of fish, heads like that of a dolphin, and covered to which the name Lopholatilus chamawith greenish yellow speckles, they leonticeps was given—meaning "chameweighed from five to fifty pounds apiece, leon-headed Latilus with a crest." the biggest being about three feet long. Unfortunately, a good deal of time was
Captain Kirby threw them all over lost in getting ready to begin, and, just board. Afterwards, having tried one for as the scientific expedition was on the
point of starting, the catas
experts, and, making all trophe arrived. This was
allowances for exaggerearly in 1882.
ation, it was estimated In March and
that an area of at April of that
least 7,500 square year, skippers of
miles must have sailing vessels
been covered arriving at the
with the fishes, ports of Bos
which (from ton, New
specimens York, and
e xhibited) Philadelphia,
were very reported that
promptly they had
identified as pa s sed
the tile fish through many
-a name given miles of water
to the species covered with
by Eugene G. dead and dying
Blackford, of fishes of a species
Fulton Market, in wholly unfamiliar.
New York City. He Those picked up alive
picked out a small did not appear to be
fragment of the sciinjured in any way,
entific name bestowed MENDING A BEAM TRAWL ON THE GOVERNMENT but merely paralyzed. **
upon the creature, Some of the vessels
and so christened it had traversed a belt sixty-five miles wide for popular purposes. of water that was profusely sprinkled Assuming that there was only one fish with the fishes, and one skipper declared for every 4,000 the sailors thought they that he had passed through 150 miles of saw, the total number found floating in them.
the manner described could not have been Quite a mass of testimony on the sub- less than one thousand millions-enough ject was got together by the fishery to furnish 300 pounds of fish for every