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Fisheries

bounty, barrel, fish, granted, herrings, fishery, barrels and herring

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FISHERIES are localities frequented at ccrtain seasons by great numbers of fish, where they are taken upon a large scale. The right of frequenting these fishing-Founds has frequently been mat ter of dispute between governments, and sometimes the subject of treaties, while exclusion from them or invasion of pre sumed exclusive rights to their enjoy ment has been the cause of warlike pre parations.

Of the British fisheries, some are car ried on in rivers or their sestuaries, and others in the bays or along the coasts. Our principal cod-fishery is on the banks of Newfoundland ; and for whales our ships frequent the shores of Greenland, Davis's Straits, and the South Seas. Of late, whale fisheries have also been car ried on near the shores of New Holland, New Zealand, and the Cape of Good Hope, the sixteenth, seventeenth, and a part of the eighteenth centuries very exaggerated notions prevailed as to the wealth which this country might derive from prosecuting the herring fisheries on a large scale. Even the value of the Dutch herring fishery, which was no doubt very great, has generally been magnified. (See Laing's Notes of a Traveller.') Before this country had begun to supply the markets of the world with our manufactures, the fisheries were an object of greater importance, compa ratively, than they now are ; and from the reign of Elizabeth, and during the two following centuries, associations were formed, and generally under the auspices of persons of rank and authority, for the prosecution of fisheries on the coasts. It will be sufficient if we notice one or two of these associations.

Charles IL, on his restoration, ap pointed, in 1667, a " Council of Royal Fishery," to which the Duke of York, the Earl of Clarendon, and other persons were named, with powers to make laws for the management of the trade, and to punish any persons who should offend against them. For further encourage ment, a lottery was granted for three years; a collection was made in churches ; and an exemption granted for seven years from customs duty on fish exported to the Baltic, Denmark, Norway, France, and some other countries. Besides this, all victuallers and coffeehouse-keepers were compelled each to take a certain number of barrels of herrings yearly at 30s. per barrel, " until a foreign market should be established to the satisfaction of the council." Besides these encourage ments, a duty of 2s. td. per barrel was imposed upon foreign herrings imported ; and a promise was made of "all such other advantages as experience should discover to be necessary.' Great as were

these encouragements, no progress was made in the fishery for sixteen years, at which time a charter was granted to a new fishing company. This company, which was renewed in 1690, also failed, and was dissolved by act of parliament early in the reign of William III. Fur ther efforts, made in 1720 and 1750, were alike unsuccessful. Various reasons have been assigned for these repeated failures. Andrew Yarington, in the second part of England's Improvement by Sea and Land,' sums up all other reasons in this one fact—" We fish intolerably dear, and the Dutch exceedingly cheap." In 1749 a committee of the House of Commons was appointed to inquire con cerning the herring and white fisheries, and as the result of its labours a cor poration was formed, with a capital of 500,0001., under the name of " The So ciety of the Free British Fishery." A bounty of 36s. per ton on all decked ves sels of from 20 to 80 tons employed in fishing was granted for fourteen years. This bounty was increased in 1657 to 56s. per ton, but without producing an adequate return to the adventurers, and in 1759, by the 33rd Geo. H., a bounty of 80s. per ton was granted, besides 2s. 8d. per barrel upon all fish exported, and interest at the rate of 3 per cent. was secured to the subscribers, payable out of the Customs revenue. The whole num ber of vessels entered on the Custom House books for the fisheries in Mae* quence of this act was only eight. In this year the whole buss fishery of Scot land, according to the statement of Adam Smith (' Wealth of Nations,' b. iv. c. v.), brought in only four barrels of " Sea Sticks" (herrings cured at sea), each of which, in bounties alone, cost the govern ment 113/. 158., and each barrel of mer chantable herrings cost 159/. 7s. 6d. The explanation of this fact is, that the bounty being given to the vessels and not to the fish, "ships were equipped to catch the bounty and not the herrings." By the 25th Geo. HI. (1785-6) the tonnage bounty was reduced to 20s., and a bounty of 4s. per barrel was given on the fish, but the whole payment was limited to 308. per ton, except when more than three barrels per ton were taken, in which ease 18. per barrel was given on the excess. On an average of ten years 54,394 barrels were taken annually, at a cost to the go vernment of about 7s. 6d. per barrel.

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