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The Harvest of the Sea
Chapter VIII - The Natural History of the Herring


 Overfishing of the Herring - The Old Theory of Migration - Geographical Distribution of the Herring - Mr. John Cleghorn's Ideas of the Natural History of the Herring - Mr. Mitchell on the National Importance of that Fish - Commission of Inquiry into the Herring Fishery - Growth of the Herring -The Sprat - Should there be a Close-time? - Caprice of the Herring.

THE common herring is one of our most beautiful and abundant fishes. It is taken throughout the year in vast quantities, thus affording a plentiful supply of cheap and wholesome food to all classes, whilst its capture and cure afford remunerative employment to a large body of industrious people. It is greatly to be regretted, therefore, that recent fluctuations in the quantity caught have given occasion for well-grounded fears of an ultimate exhaustion of some of our largest shoals, or at all events of so great a diminution of their producing power as probably to render one or two of the best fisheries unproductive. This is nothing new, however, in the history of the herring-fishery various places can be pointed out, which, although now barren of herrings, were formerly frequented by large shoals, that, from overfishing or other causes, have been dispersed.

This supposed overfishing of the herring has resulted chiefly from our ignorance of the natural history of that fish-ignorance which has long prevailed, and which we are only now beginning to overcome. Indeed, much as the subject has been discussed during the last ten years, and great as the light is that has been thrown on the natural and economic history of our fish, considering the elemental difficulty which stands in the way of perfect observation, there are yet persons who insist upon believing all the old theories and romances pertaining to the lives of sea animals. We occasionally hear of the great sea-serpent ; the impression of St. Peter's thumb is still to be seen on the haddock ; " Moby Dick," a Tom Savers among fighting whales, still ranges through the squid fields of the Pacific Ocean ; and I know an old fisherman who once borrowed a comb from a polite mermaid !

Not very long ago, for instance, the old theory of the migration of the herring to and from the Arctic Regions was gravely revived in an unexpected quarter, as if that romance of fish-life was still believed by modern naturalists to be the chief episode in the natural history of Clupea harengus. The original migration story-which was invented by Pennant, or rather was constructed by him from the theories of fishermen-old as it is, is worthy of being briefly recapitulated, as affording a good point of view for a consideration of the natural and economic history of the herring as now ascertained : it was to the effect that in the inaccessible seas of the high northern latitudes herrings were found in overwhelming abundance, securing within the icy Arctic Circle a bounteous feeding-ground, and at the same time a quiet and safe retreat from their numerous enemies. At the proper season, inspired by some commanding impulse, vast bodies of this fish gathered themselves together into one great army, and in numbers far exceeding the power of imagination to picture departed for the waters of Europe and America. The particular division of this great heer, which was destined annually to repopulate the British sets, and afford a plenteous food-store for the people, was said to arrive at Iceland about March, and to be of such amazing extent as to occupy a surface more than equal to the dimensions of Great Britain and Ireland, but subdivided, by a happy instinct, into battalions five or six miles in length and three or four in breadth, each line or column being led, according to the ideas of fishermen, by herrings (probably the Alice and Twaite shad) of more than ordinary size and sagacity. These heaven-directed strangers were next supposed to strike on the Shetland Islands, where they divided of themselves, as we are told ; one division taking along the west side of Britain, whilst the other took the east side, the result being an adequate and well-divided supply of this fine fish in all our larger seas and rivers, as the herrings penetrated into every bay, and filled all our inland lochs from Wick to Yarmouth. Mr. Pennant was not contented with the development of this myth, but evidently felt constrained to give Mat to his invention by inditing a few moral remarks just by way of a tag. "Were we," he says, " inclined to consider this migration of the herring in a moral light, we might reflect with veneration and awe on the mighty power which originally impressed on this useful body of His creatures the instinct that directs and points out the course that blesses and enriches these islands, which causes them at certain and invariable times to quit the vast polar depths, and offer themselves to our expectant fleets. This impression was given them that they might remove for the sake of depositing their spawn in warmer seas, that would mature and vivify it more assuredly than those of the frigid zone. It is not from defect of food that they set themselves in motion, for they come to us full and fat, and on their return are almost universally observed to be lean and miserable."

Happily, the naturalists of the present day know a vast deal more of the natural history of the herring than Mr. Pennant ever knew, and on the authority of the most able inquirers it may be taken for granted that the herring is a local and not a migratory fish. It has been repeatedly demonstrated that the herring is a native of our immediate seas, and can be caught all the year round on the coasts of the three kingdoms. The fishing begins at the island of Lewis, in the Hebrides, in the month of May, and goes on as the year advances, till in July it is being prosecuted off the coast of Caithness ; while in autumn and winter we find large supplies of herrings at Yarmouth ; and there is a winter fishery in the Firth of Forth : moreover, this fish is found in the south long before it ought to be there, if we were to believe in Pennant's theory. It has been deduced, from a consideration of the figures of the annual takes of many years, that the herring exists in distinct races, which arrive at maturity month after month ; and it is well known that the herrings taken at Wick in July are quite different from those caught at Dunbar in August or September : indeed, I would go further, and say that even at Wick each month has its changing shoal, and that as one race ripens for capture another disappears, having fulfilled its mission of procreation. It is certain that the herrings of these different seasons vary considerably in size and appearance; and it is very well known that the herrings of different localities are marked by distinctive features. Thus, the well-known Lochfyne herring is essentially different in its flavour from that of the Firth of Forth, and those taken in the Firth of Forth differ again in many particulars from those caught off Yarmouth.

In fact, the herring never ventures far from the spot where it is taken. and its condition, when it is caught, is just an index of the feeding it has enjoyed in its particular locality. The superiority in flavour of the herring taken in our great land-locked salt-water lochs is undoubted. Whether or not it results from the depth and body of water, from more plentiful marine vegetation, or from the greater variety of land food washed into these inland seas, has not yet been determined ; but it is certain that the herrings of our western sea-lochs are infinitely superior to those captured in the more open sea. It is natural that the animals of one feeding locality should differ from those of another : land animals, it is well known, are easily affected by change of food and place ; and fish, I have no doubt, are governed by the same laws. But on this part of the herring question I need scarcely waste any argument.

Moreover, it is now known, from the inquiries of the late Mr. Mitchell and other authorities on the geographical distribution of the herring, that that fish has never been noticed as being at all abundant in the Arctic Regions ; and the knowledge accumulated from recent investigations has dispelled many of what may be termed the minor illusions once so prevalent about the life of the herring and other fish. People, however, have been very slow to believe that fish were subject to the same natural laws as other animals. In short, seeing that the natural history of all kinds of fish has been largely mixed up with tradition or romance, it is no wonder that many have been slow to discard Pennant's pretty story about the migratory instinct of the herring, and the wonderful power of sustained and rapid travelling by which it reached and returned from our coasts. Even Yarrell wrote in a weak uncertain tone about this fish ; indeed his account of it is not entitled to very much consideration, being a mere compilation, or rather a series of extracts, from other writers.

It was not till the year 1854 that anything like an authentic contradiction to Pennant's theory was obtained. Before that time one or two bold people asserted that they had doubts about the migration story, and thought that the herring must be a local animal, from the fact of its being found on the British coasts all the year round ; while one daring man said authoritatively, from personal knowledge, that there were no herrings in the Arctic seas. During the year I have mentioned, a paper, which was communicated to the Liverpool Meeting of the British Association by Mr. Cleghorn of Wick, directed an amount of public attention to the herring-fishery, which still continues, and which, at the time, was thought sure ultimately to result in an authentic inquiry into the natural and economic history of that fish. Such an investigation has since been made by persons qualified to undertake the task, and the result of their inquiries summed up in a most interesting report, which, along with the evidence taken by the Commissioners, I shall have occasion to refer to in another part of the present chapter; the labours of Cleghorn, Mitchell, and others, claiming priority of notice, as the ideas promulgated by these gentlemen, although often hotly opposed and combated, have gone a great way to guide public opinion on the subject, and have evidently helped to influence recent investigators.

In his paper communicated to the British Association at Liverpool, Mr. Cleghorn stated that, living at Wick, the chief seat of the fishery - " the Amsterdam of Scotland " in fact - his attention had been directed to the herring-fishery by the fluctuations in the annual take. Mr. Cleghorn believes the fluctuations in the capture to be caused by "overfishing," as in the case of the salmon, the haddock, and other fish. The points brought forward by Mr. Cleghorn in order to prove his case were the following:-I. That the herring is a native of waters in which it is found, and never migrates. 2. That distinct races of it exist at different places. 3. That twenty-seven years ago the extent of netting employed in the capture of the fish was much less than what is now used, while the quantity of herrings caught was, generally speaking, much greater. 4. There were fishing stations extant some years ago which are now exhausted; a steady increase having taken place in their produce up to a certain point, then violent fluctuations, and then final extinction. 5. The races of herrings nearest our large cities have disappeared first ; and in districts where the tides are rapid, as among islands and in lochs, where the fishing grounds are circumscribed, the fishings are precarious and brief; while on the other hand extensive seaboards having slack tides, with little accommodation for boats, are surer and of longer continuance as fishing stations. 6. From these premises it follows that the extinction of districts, and the fluctuations in the fisheries generally, are attributable to overfishing. In the portion of this work bearing on the fishery I shall again have occasion to refer to Mr. Cleghorn's investigations on the subject of the netting employed, but it occurred to me to state Mr. Cleghorn's theory at this place, as it has been the key-note to much of the recent discussion on the subject of the natural history of the herring. Before the reading of Mr. Cleghorn's statistics, the natural history of the herring was not well understood even by naturalists; so difficult is it to make observations in the laboratories of the sea. Only a few persons, till recently, were intimate with the history of this fish, and knew that, instead of being a migratory animal, as had been asserted by Anderson and Pennant, the herring was as local to particular coasts as the salmon to particular rivers.

The late Mr. J. M. Mitchell, in a paper which lie read before the British Association at Oxford, settled with much care and very effectually the geographical part of the herring question. His idea also is that the herring is a native of the coast on which it is found, and that immediately after spawning the full-sized herrings make at once for the deep waters of their own neighbourhood, where they feed till the spawning season again induces them to seek the shallow water. Mr. Mitchell gives his reasons, and states that the herrings resorting to the various localities have marked differences in size, shape, or quality ; those of each particular coast having a distinct and specific character which cannot be mistaken ; and so well determined are those particulars, that practical men, on seeing the herrings, can at once hit upon the locality from whence they come ; as, indeed, is the case with salmon, turbot, and many other fishes and crustaceans.

On the southern coast of Greenland the herring is a rare fish ; and, according to Crantz, only a small variety is found on the northern shore, nor has it been observed in any number in the proper icy seas-as it would undoubtedly have been had it resorted thither in such innumerable quantities as was imagined by the naturalists of the last century. Another proof that the herring is local to the coasts of Britain lies in the fact of the different varieties brought to our own markets. As expert fishers know the salmon of particular rivers, so do some men know the different localities of our herring from merely glancing at the fish. Experienced fishmongers can tell the different localities of the same kinds of fish as easily as a farmer can tell a Cheviot sheep from a Southdown. Thus they can at once distinguish a Severn salmon from one caught in the Tweed or the Spey, and they can tell at a glance a Lochfyne matie from a Firth of Forth one.

Turning now to the report of the Commissioners already referred to, we obtain some interesting information as to the spawning and growth of the herring. Upon these branches of the subject the public have hitherto been very ill informed. Yarrell's account of this particular fish is a mere compilation from Dr. M`Culloch, W. H. Maxwell, Dr. Parnell, and others, and is thus very disappointing. Again, the account in the Naturalist's Library is compressed into five small pages, referring chiefly to authorities on the subject, with quotations from Yarrell ! It is only by searching in Blue Books, by perusing much newspaper writing of a controversial kind, and by arduous personal inquiry, as well as by making a minute study of the fish, that I have been able to complete anything like an accurate precis of the natural and economic history of this very plentiful fish.

As to the periods at which herrings spawn, the Commissioners inform us that they met with " singularly contradictory " statements, and after having collected a large amount of valuable evidence, they arrived at the conclusion that herrings spawn at two seasons of the year - viz. in the spring and autumn. They have no evidence of a spawning during the solstitial months -viz. June and December ; but in nearly all the other months gravid herrings are found, and the Commissioners assert that a spring spawning certainly occurs in the latter part of January, as also in the three following months, and the autumn spawning in the latter end of July, and likewise in the following months up to November. " Taking all parts of the British coast together, February and March are the great months for the spring spawning, and August and September for the autumn spawning." The spawn, it may be stated in passing, is deposited on the surface of the stones, shingle, and gravel, and on old shells, at the various spawning places, and it adheres tenaciously to whatever it happens to fall upon. This, as will be seen, brings us exactly back to Mr. Cleghorn's ideas of the herring existing in races at different places and in separate bodies, and thereby rendering the fluctuations of the great series of shoals at Wick more and more intelligible, especially when we take into account the fact that winter shoals are now found at that place, giving rise to what may ultimately prove a considerable addition to the great autumn fishery yet carried on there.

As to the question of how long herrings take to grow, from the period of the deposition of the egg, there are various opinions, for no naturalist or practical fisherman has been able definitely to fix the time. There is reason to believe, we are told in the report, that the eggs of herrings are hatched in, at most, from two to three weeks after deposition. This is very rapid work when we consider that the eggs of the salmon require to be left for a period of ninety or a hundred days, even in favourable seasons, before they quicken into life, and that the eggs of a considerable number of fish are known to take a much longer period than three weeks to ripen. The rate of growth of the herring, and the time at which it begins to reproduce itself, are not yet well understood ; indeed, it seems particularly difficult to fix the period at which it reaches the reproductive stage. As an example of the numerous absurd statements that have been circulated about fish, the reader may study the following paragraph:-" Old fishermen-about Dunbar say the way herring spawn is -first, the female herrings deposit their roe at some convenient part on sand or shingly bottom; second, the male fish then spread their milt all over the roe to protect it from enemies, and the influence of the tide and waves from moving it about. The fishermen also say that when the young herrings are hatched they can see and swim ; the milt covering bursts open, and they are free to roam about. Some naturalists think the roes and milts of herring are all mixed together promiscuously, and left on the sands to bud and flourish. The fishermen's idea seems to be the most likely of the two opinions."

I have had young herrings of all sizes in my possession, from those of an inch long upwards. The following are the measurements of a few of my specimens which were procured about the end of February, and not one of which had any appearance of either roe or milt, while some (the smaller fish) were strongly serrated in the abdominal line, and others, as they advanced in size, lost that distinguishing mark, and were only very slightly serrated. The largest of these fish--and they must all have been caught at one time-was eight inches long, nearly four inches in circumference at the thickest part of the body, and weighed a little over two ounces. The smallest of these herring fry did not weigh a quarter of an ounce, and was not quite three inches in length. One of them, again, that was six inches long, only weighed three-quarters of an ounce ; whilst another of the same lot, four and a half inches long, weighed a quarter of an ounce exactly. I do not propose at present to enter at great length into the sprat controversy ; but, if the sprat be the young of some one of the different species of herring, as I take leave to think it is, then the question of its growth and natural economy will become highly important. Some people say that the herring must have attained the age of seven

years before it can yield milt or roe, whilst a period of three years has been also named as the ultimate time of this event ; but there are persons who think that the herring attains its reproductive power in eighteen months, while others affirm that the fish grows to maturity in little more than half that time. If the average size of a herring may be stated as eleven and a half inches, individual fish of Clupea harengus have been found measuring seventeen inches, and full fish have been taken only ten inches in length, when should the example, noted above as being eight inches long, reach its full growth I and how old was it at the time of its capture? And, again, were the fish-all taken out of the same boat, be it observed, and caught in the same shoal-all of one particular year's hatching? Is this the story of the parr over again, or is it the case that the fishermen had found a shoal of mixed herrings-some being of one year's spawning, some of another ? I confess to being puzzled, and may again remind the reader that my largest fish had never spawned, and had not the faintest trace of milt or roe within it. Then, again, as to the time when herrings spawn, I have over and over again asserted in various quarters that they spawn in nearly every month of the year-an assertion which has been proved by official inquiry.

As to the place of spawning, development of the ova, and other circumstances attendant on the increase of the herring, I promulgated the following opinions some years ago, and I see no reason to alter them :-The herring shoal keeps well together till the time of spawning, whatever the fish may do after that event. Some naturalists think that the shoal breaks up after it spawns, and that the herring then live an individual life, till again instinctively moved together for the grand purpose of procreating their kind. It is quite clear, I think, that herring move into shallow water because of its increased temperature, and its being more fitted in consequence for the speedy vivifying of their spawn. The same shoal will always gather over the same spawning ground, and the fish will keep their position till they fulfil the chief object of their life. The herrings will rise buoyantly to the surface of the water after they have spawned ; before that they swim deep and hug the ground. The herring, in my opinion, must have a rocky place to spawn upon, with a vegetable growth of some kind to receive the roe ; shoals may of course accidentally spawn on soft ground. It is not accurately known how long a period elapses till the spawn ripens into life. I think, however, that herring spawn requires a period of about ten weeks to ripen. It is known that young herrings have appeared on a spawning ground in myriads within fifty days after the departure of a shoal, and fishermen say that no spawn can be found on the ground after the lapse of a few weeks from the visit of the gravid shoal-that the eggs in fact have come to life, and that the fish are swimming about.

It is generally known that the sprat (Clupea sprattus) is a most abundant fish. The fact of its great abundance has induced a belief that it is not a distinct species of fish, but is, in reality, the young of the herring. It is true that many distinguishing marks are pointed out as belonging only to the sprat -such as its serrated belly, the relative position of the fins, etc. But there remains, on the other side, the very striking fact of the sprat being rarely found with either milt or roe ; indeed, the only case I know of this fish having been found in a condition to perpetuate its species was detailed by the late Mr. Mitchell, who exhibited before one of the learned societies of Edinburgh a pair of sprats having the roe and milt fully developed. Dr. Dod, an ancient anatomist, says: "It is evident that sprats are young herrings. They appear immediately after the herrings are gone, and seem to be the spawn just vivified, if I may use the expression. A more undeniable proof of their being so is in their anatomy ; since, on the closest search, no difference but size can be found between them." After the nonsense which was at one time written about the parr, and considering the anomalies of salmon-growth, it would be unsafe to dogmatise on the sprat question. As to the serrated belly, we might look upon it as we do the tucks of a child's frock - viz. as a provision for growth. The fin-rays of this fish have also been cited in evidence as not being the same in number as those of the herring, but as I can testify from actual counting, the finrays of the latter fish vary considerably, therefore the number of fin-rays is not evidence in the case. The slaughter of sprats which is annually carried on in our seas is, I suspect, as decided a killing of the goose for the sake of the golden eggs as the grilse-slaughter which is annually carried on in our salmon rivers.

The herring is found under four different conditions:- 1st, Fry or sill; 2d, Maties or fat herring; 3d, Full herring; 4th, Shotten or spent herring. All herrings under five or six inches in length come under the first denomination. The matie is the finest condition in which a herring can be used for food purposes; and if the fishery could be so arranged, that is the time at which it should be caught for consumption. At that period it is very fat, its feeding-power being all developed on its body ; the spawn is small, the growth of the roe or milt not having yet demanded the whole of the nutriment taken by the fish. A full herring is one in which the milt or roe is fully developed. The maties develop into spawning herring with great rapidity -in the course of three months, it is said. The herrings at the spawning season come together in vast numbers, and proceed to their spawning places in the shallower and consequently warmer parts of the sea. As Gilbert White says, "The two great motives which regulate the brute creation are love and hunger; the one incites them to perpetuate their kind, the latter induces them to preserve individuals." In obedience to these laws the herring congregate on our coast, for there only they find an abundant supply of food to mature with the necessary rapidity their milt and roe, as well as a sea-bottom fitted to receive their spawn; and they are thus brought within the reach of man at what many persons consider the wrong time of their life.

As to this division of the question, it has been said that it matters not at what period you take a herring, whether it be old or young, without or with spawn ; that fish cannot again be caught, and will never spawn again ; and it is argued, therefore, that the taking of fish in " the family way " no more prevents it from reproducing than if it had been killed in the condition of a matie. The same argument was used in the case of the young salmon; and it was asked : If you kill all your grilse, where are you to find your salmon ?

The- herring breeds, then, and is caught in greater or lesser quantities, during every month of the year. There is no general close-time for the herring in Scotland. How is it that the time selected by fishermen for the capture of this fish corresponds with the period when it is a crime to take a salmon ? If a gravid salmon be unwholesome, is a gravid herring good for food? Do not the same physical laws affect both of these fish? There cannot be a doubt that at the period of spawning, this fish, as well as all other fish, is in its worst condition so far as its food-yielding qualities are concerned, because at that time of its life its whole nutritive power is exerted on behalf of its seed, and its flesh is consequently lean and unpalatable. Yet it is a great fact that the time which the herring selects to fulfil the grandest instinct of its nature is the very time appointed by man for its capture ! In fact, that is the period when herrings are at a premium ; they must be "full fish," or they cannot obtain the official brand; in other words, shotten herrings-i.e. fish that have spawned-are not of much more than half the value of the others. When it is taken into account that each pair of full fish (male and female) are killed just as they are about to give us the chance of obtaining an increase of the stock to the extent say of thirty thousand, the ultimate effect must be to disturb and cripple the producing powers of the shoal to such a degree that it will break up and find a new breeding-ground, safe for a time perhaps from the spoliation of the greedy fishermen. The Lochfyne Commissioners gave as a reason for their non-recommendation of a close-time the fact, that were there to be a cessation from labour, the enemies of the herring would so increase that the jubilee given would be nugatory. But surely there is a great want of logic in this argument ! How is it that a close-time operates so favourably in the case of the salmon-not only a seasonal close-time, but a weekly one as well ? Would not the herring, with its almost miraculous breeding-power, increase in the same ratio, or even in a greater ratio than its enemies, especially, if, as the Commissioners tell us, and we believe, it is engaged in multiplying its kind during ten months of the year ? Are not the enemies of the herring at work during the fishing season as well as at other periods ? I could understand the logic of denying a close-time on the ground that, as the herring never ceases breeding, it is impossible to fix a correct period. But, according to the deliverance of the Commissioners, a close-time is possible. I have ever been of opinion, notwithstanding the practical difficulties that would have to be encountered in carrying it out, that the want of a close-time, especially for the larger kinds of sea-fish, is one of the causes which are so obviously affecting the supplies. It is certain also, from chemical and sanitary investigation, that all fish are unwholesome at the period of spawning; the salmon at that time of its life is looked upon as being little better than carrion. But, without dwelling on this phase of the question, or considering the effect of unwholesome fish on the public health, I must point out most strongly that the want of a well-defined close-time is one of the greatest and severest of our fish-destroying agencies. We give our grouse a breathing space; nay, we sometimes afford to that bird a whole jubilee year ; we do not shoot our hares during certain months of the year, nor do we select their breeding season as the proper time to kill our oxen or our sheep ; but we do not at dinner-time object to an entree composed of cod-roe, and we evidently rather believe in the propriety of killing only our seed-laden herrings ! This lavish destruction of fish-life has arisen in great part from the well-known fecundity of all kinds of sea-fish, which has given rise to the idea that it is impossible to exhaust the shoals. But when it is considered that this wonderful fecundity is met by an unparalleled destruction of the seed and also of the young fish, we need not be astonished at the ever-recurring complaint of scarcity. An old and probably exaggerated complaint has been lately revived that the beam-trawl is one of the most destructive engines employed in the sea, five hundred tons of spawn being destroyed by trawlers in twenty-four hours ! There can be no doubt that there is annually an enormous waste of fish-life through the accidental destruction of very large quantities of spawn,- herring-spawn as well as all other kinds.

As to the food of the herring, the report already alluded to tells us that it " consists of crustacea, varying in size from microscopic dimensions to those of a shrimp, and of small fish, particularly sand-eels. While in the matie condition they feed voraciously, and not unfrequently their stomachs are found immensely distended with crustacea and sand-eels, in a more or less digested condition." I have personally examined the stomachs of many herrings, and have found in them the remains of all kinds of food procurable in the place frequented by the particular animal examined-including herring-roe, young herrings, sprats, etc. ; but the sand-eel seems to be its favourite food.

One of the wonders connected with the natural history of the herring is the capricious nature of the fish. It is always changing its habitat, and, according to vulgar belief, from the most curious circumstances. I need not add to the necessary length of this chapter by giving a great number of instances of the capricious nature of the herring; but I must cite a few, in order to make my recapitulation of herring history as complete as possible, and at the same time it is proper to mention that superstition is brought to bear on this point. The fishermen of St. Monance, in Fife, used to remove their church-bell during the fishing season, as they affirmed that its ringing scared away the shoals of herring from the bay ! It has long been a favourite and popular idea that they were driven away by the noise of gun-firing. The Swedes say that the frequent firings of the British ships in the neighbourhood of Gothenburg frightened the fish away from the place. In a similar manner and with equal truth it was said that they had been driven away from the Baltic by the firing of guns at the battle of Copenhagen ! "Ordinary philosophy is never satisfied," says Dr. M`Culloch, " unless it can find a solution for everything ; and it is satisfied for this reason with imaginary ones." Thus in Long Island, one of the Hebrides, it was asserted that the fish had been driven away by the kelp-manufacture, some imaginary coincidence having been found between their disappearance and the establishment of that business. But the kelp fires did not drive them away from other shores, which they frequent and abandon indifferently, without regard to that work. A member of the House of Commons, in a debate on a Tithe Bill in 1835, stated that a clergyman, having obtained a living on the coast of Ireland, signified his intention of taking the tithe of fish, which was, however, considered to be so utterly repugnant to their privileges and feelings, that not a single herring had ever since visited that part of the shore !

The most prominent members of the Chupediae are the common herring (Clupea harengus) ; the sprat, or garvie (Clupea sprattus) ; and the pilchard, or gipsy herring (Clapea pilchardus). The other members of this family are the anchovy, and the Alice and Twaite shad ; but these, although affording material for speculation to naturalists, are not of great commercial importance.

Before concluding this chapter I wish to say a few words about a point of herring economy, which has been already alluded to in connection with the special commission appointed to inquire into the trawling system-viz, as to the natural enemies of the herring, the most ruthless of which are undoubtedly of the fish kind, and whose destructive power, some people assert, dwarfs into insignificance all that man can do against the fish:- "Consider," say the Commissioners, "the destruction of large herring by cod and ling alone. It is a very common thing to find a codfish with six or seven large herrings, of which not one has remained long enough to be digested, in his stomach. If, in order to be safe, we allow a codfish only two herrings per diem, and let him feed on herrings for only seven months in the year, then we have 420 herrings as his allowance during that time; and fifty codfish will equal one fisherman in destructive power. But the quantity of cod and ling taken in 1861, and registered by the Fishery Board, was over 80,000 cwts. On an average thirty codfish go to one cwt. of dried fish. Hence, at least 2,400,000 will equal 48,000 fishermen. In other words, the cod and hug caught on the Scotch coasts in 1861, if they had been left in the water, would have caught as many herring as a number of fishermen equal to all those in Scotland, and six thousand more, in the same year ; and as the cod and ling caught were certainly not one tithe part of those left behind, we may fairly estimate the destruction of

herring by these voracious fish alone as at least ten times as great as that effected by all the fishermen put together." As to only one of the numerous land enemies of the herring, the late Mr. Wilson, in his Tour round Scotland, calculated that the gannets or solan geese frequenting one island alone-St. Kilda-picked out of the water for their food 214 millions of herrings every summer ! The shoals that can withstand these destructive agencies must indeed be vast, especially when taken in connection with the millions of herrings that are accidentally killed by the nets, and never brought ashore for food purposes. The work accomplished by these natural enemies of the herring, which has been going on during all time, does not however affect my argument, that by the concentration on one shoal of a thousand boats per annum, with an annually-increasing net-power, we both so weaken and frighten the shoal that it becomes in time unproductive. As the late Mr. Methuen said in one of his addresses: " We have been told that we are to have dominion over the fish of the sea, but dominion does not mean extermination."


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