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Pound-Net Fishing

bottom, pound, stakes, fisheries, brush, fish, netting, wings and pound-nets

POUND-NET FISHING, any fishing which is conducted by means of fixed en closures of considerable size into which the fish are led by suitable guides, and within which they are confined by appropriate devices. Under this head will be included the pound-nets proper and trap-nets, as well as the simpler forms of weirs, which together constitute a class of automatic fishing gear quite distinct from the various forms of seines, gill-nets, etc., on the one hand, and the small fish-traps, baskets and eel-pots on the other. Devices of this sort are employed in the prosecution of the fisheries in many parts of the world, but the method, al though not originating in the United States, has here been more highly elaborated and is more characteristic of our fisheries than else where. The precise form and construction of pound-nets varies greatly in different localities, owing to the necessity of adapting it to local conditions of bottom, tides, currents, the kind and number of the fish sought, the available capital, resourcefulness of the fishermen, etc. The terms weir and pound in connection with the fisheries are to a great extent used inter changeably, according to local custom. The chief distinction between a weir and a pound net seems to lie in the character of the en closure within which the fish are confined. In the former this is more fixed and has no bottom which can be lifted; in the latter the pound is a netting bag which can be raised to the sur face.

The most primitive apparatus of this sort in use in the United States is represented by the brush weirs employed in the herring fisheries of Maine and Canada. These consist of brush walls constructed of stout stakes driven into the bottom to a distance of about six feet and three feet apart. Between these brush, preferably of cedar or spruce for the bottom course, is woven in and out and held firmly in place by smaller stakes placed on the outside and bound to the large body-stakes. Toward the top a looser construction is adopted and the brush is placed vertically, as being less liable to be carried away by the current Sometimes the brush is con structed in sections ashore and subsequently attached to stakes driven in the proper positions. This has the advantage that the brush sections can be removed and saved at the close of the fishing season, whereas the ordinary weirs, with the exception of such brush as can be removed from the tops, are likely to be totally destroyed by the winter's storms. When weirs are located on a bottom of solid rock into which no stakes can be driven, recourse is had to the construc tion of a platform of solid plank, which serves as a bottom to which the poles are fastened.

The whole is heavily weighted and helditi plasm by loading it with stones. , 1 , , A pound-net in the more restrided sense of the term is constructed entirely of cordage netting, suppcirted and held in place 'by and consists of three essential parts; the pound or bowl, the wings, and the leader. The pound

is located off-shore, usually in from two to four fathoms of water and consists of a bag of very stout netting of about one inch mesh, the margin of which is supported above the level of the water by stout upright stakes driven into the bottom at suitable intervals which vary with the character of the ground and the force of the waves and currents. Where the bottom is rocky further security is found 'by the attachment of anchored guy ropes to some of the stakes. The only opening in the pound is the slit-like eu tranee, usually about sot. feet across, on the in shore side. At this point the walls of the net are carried inward, in order to render the open ing less conspicuous from the inside, and are so arranged that by means of suitable ropes they may be used to close the opening when the net is drawn. The bottom of the pound is spread and secured by means of ropes which pass through loops or pulleys near the bottom of the ,stakes.

The wings are vertical fences of netting, diverging from the entrance to the pound and having a length of 100 feet or more. The ends directed toward the shore are carried toward one another in the form of a semi-circle, but leaving a wide opening between the two wings. The netting of which the wings are constructed is lighter. than that forming. the pound, and of about one and one-half inches mesh. It is sup ported by stakes and reaches from the bottom to the surface, the lower border being weighted with a heavy chain.

Any form of enclosure employed in the cap ture of fish may be called a trap, and trap-net is frequently used as an equivalent of pound net. The hest usage of the term, however, is, to indicate those forms of pound-nets whirl; are especially adapted to deep waters or a con siderable tidal rise and fall by the attachment to the upper ma,rgin of the nets of floats which keep it always level with the surface. When surface-swimming fish only are sought, the parts which correspond to the leaders and wings of pound-nets frequently hang suspended above the bottom. The whole is of course held in position by a suitable system of ropes, anchors and moorings. This type of apparatus is. an approach to the floating gill-net, the sets of which are often arranged in the, form of leaders and enclosures. Much information re lating to all phases of the use of pound-nets the American fisheries will be found tered. thropgh the (Annual Reports) of the United. Mates Bureau of Fisheries and of the commissicuts of the various States in these fisheries are located, and especially in the Industries of the United (Washington 1884r87)•