G. Brown (George Brown) Goode.

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Thus, allowing it to be at its height there in (lie beginning of August, 1 it occurs in September oil"
the coast of Maine, and in October oil' Eastern Massachusetts; in November at Cape Cod, and in
December at Noinan's Land and Mloc.k Island; possibly still later farther south.

"The eggs are minute, less in si/.e than those of the shad, and adhere when discharged to
rocks, seaweed, etc.. being scattered singly or in bunches over a vast extent of sea bottom. I
have frequently brought them up at various depths and at a considerable distance from the shore,
oil' (iraml Menan."*

ARTIFICIAL PROPAGATION OF THE HERRING. In the spring of 1878 the first successful
experiments in the artiticial propagation of Herring were carried on in Germany by Dr. IL
A. Meyer, of the Commission for Scientific Investigation of the German 8ea at Kiel, and in
the fall of the same year by Mr. K. E. Earll, of the United States Fish Commission, at Glouces-
ter. A translation of Dr. Meyer's paper may bo found in part vi, United States Fish Com-
mission Report, pp. tii'iMiSS, and a brief summation of Mr. Earll's experiments in the same
volume, pp. 727-7l M .l.

FOOD. Much has been written upon the food of the Herring, but the following translation
from an article in "Die Natur," No. 47, 1869, gives in a very satisfactory manner recent views
of Euro]>ean authorities upon the subject:

"Of the various fishes that inhabit the waters, few have, perhaps, more direct bearing
upon the prosperity of the maritime people of the north than the sea Herring; the shores of
both hemispheres being visited regularly by countless myriads that furnish an inexhaustible
source of food. It is, therefore, not to be wondered at that the attention of fishermen, as
well as statesmen and political economists, has been directed to the different questions con-
nected with the migrations and preservation of these fish, and that much research should have
been expended in determining various points connected with their history. Until quite

'A large school of Herrings appears annually in the vicinity of Boisbobcrt Islam], in Eastern Maine, off Millbridgc,
where they spawn on the rocky bottom. R. E. EARLL.

J A visit in 1872 to the Southern Head of Grand Mcnan, during the spawning season of the Herring, enabled'
my assistant. Dr. Palmer, to obtain a very interesting series of eggs and young by using the dredge, the eggs being
found at low water, from near the shore, out to a distance of several miles.

Over an extended area, whenever any gravel, stones, or sea-wee<l were brought up with the dredge they were
found to be thickly dotted over with these eggs, sometimes single, at others in clusters.

It would appear that in the operation of exclusion, the eggs fall away into the water in masses varying in
size, although in no instance was the entire spawning of any one fish observed in a single mass. The largest aggro-
gal ions consisted of masses of the size of a hazel-nut. Sometimes these heat up and separate entirely. The eggs
wi-re very minute, not larger than No. 7 shot, and when taken up nearly all the eggs contained embryos, of which the

wen- very large and distinct. The eggs appear to sink to the bottom if not laid there originally, and to adhere
ut '>ii.e to adjacent objects. A careful straining of the surface-water and down to a considerable depth with the-
towing-net, or hand gauge-net, brought up no floating eggs.

A large miiiilM-r of eggs were brought over to East port in salt water and a considerable nuiiilterof these hatched!
"lit on the way. during an interval of n few honrs, nnd many cithern became developed sunn iil'ier they were brought
ashore. All the embryos had left their envelopes by the next morning. The young could ! distinctly seen inside of"
the egg, and when this was ni)>tnre<l they were extremely active in their movements through the water, spi inging
up and down and crosswise, wriggling precisely like the larva' of a dipterous insect. Their length at this time wan.
about thirty ouc-hundredths of an inch, some few being larger and others rather smaller.


recently, however, one important element of their biography has been unsolved, namely, the
precise nature of the food upon which they subsist, at least during the time when they come
into the vicinity of the, shore, although their varying degree of excellence throughout the year
is believed to depend largely upon what they find to eat in the different months.

" Intimately connected with this same subject of the food of the Herring is the fact that
at times it is found almost impossible to preserve the fish after being caught, since, notwith-
standing the prompt use of salt, decomposition ensues and spoils the entire catch. Indeed,
at certain seasons of the year, it is said that Herrings cannot be preserved at all except by
taking the precaution of retaining them alive in the net for a period of from three to ten days.

" A very important communication on the food of the Herring has lately been published
by a Danish author, Mr. Axel Boeck, from which we learn that the herring food, or ' meat,' con-
sisting almost entirely of minute invertebrate animals, is divided by the northern fishermen into
three classes; the 'red,' the 'yellow,' and the 'black,' the names being derived from the color of
this food when living, or else from its appearance when in the fish's stomach. The red meat
(Roclaat) is the most common and best known, arid occurs along the entire coast of Norway and in
the mouths of the bays (but more sparingly in the bays themselves), and in the open sea, dimin-
ishing in amount , apparently, with the depth. At certain periods of summer, however, it appears
in such immense abundance that the sea is colored red by it. When floating in this way upon the
surface, it attracts innumerable schools of mackerel, as well as of Herrings, which are then much
less shy than usual, and the scene is one of impressive activity, owing to the number of boats
and nets employed in fishing. On a careful examination this substance was found to consist
almost entirely of small crustaceans, Copepod, the largest, scarcely the thirtieth of an inch in
leugth and barely distinguishable by the naked eye.

"It can hardly be believed that such minute and almost microscopic animals can be of
so much importance to the welfare of a nation; but in reality the mackerel and the autumnal
Herrings owe their fatness to them, the microscope revealing through their thiu shells the fat
lying in distinct strips between the muscles and intestines.

"These same crustaceans occur also off Spitzbergen in such abundance as to furnish food
to innumerable water fowl; and even the whales feed upon them to a great extent.

"If, now, the Herring has taken in a large quantity of this 'red food,' and is then cap-
tured and killed without its having been fully digested, the animal matter in the stomach
-of the fish begins to spoil before it can be reached by the salt, and the stomach thus becomes
putrid, as well as the large bloodvessel which lies under the back, the coloring matter of
the blood imparting a reddish tinge to the flesh alongthe backbone. For this reason it is
required by law to keep Herrings three days in the nets, in order that all the contents of
the stomach may be completely digested, while the fish is prevented from taking in a fresh
supply. Sometimes, however, the winds drift this herring food into the nets, and furnish to
the Herrings an opportunity, which they eagerly embrace, rendering them again liable to the
difficulty just mentioned.

"When a Herring, on being squeezed, discharges a yellow pulp, this is known as 'yellow
meat,' or Oulaat. This is not so abundant as the other, but appears, like the 'red meat,' to
be composed in part of transparent Copepods, together with the larvre of tapeworms and other
annelids which occur on the Norwegian coast in immense numbers. It is stated that the
surface of the sea is sometimes seen to be completely covered with little worms of about the
twenty -fourth of an inch in length, swimming actively about by means of certain hairs which
encircle their bodies like a girdle. These animals were sufficiently developed to permit their

: OK III:I;I;IXG. 565

identification as the young of Lcncodore cilwtii. Herring and mackerel fee<l largely upon
tin-si- animals, so that the \\ellow meat ' consists in greater part of the tine hairs which cover
the exterior of the larva- in question. This kind of food is considered to interfere less with
the proper curing of the Herring, as it is much more quickly digested.

"The most objectionable kind of herring food, however, is that which is known as the 'black
meat,' or Scartaat, sometimes called Krutaat, and occurring on the surface of the sea in the, form of
little granules moving freely about, but which sink on being touched. This is said to be most
abundant in rainy seasons when there is a short interval of tine and clear weather. Herring that
have fed on this substance are considered to be entirely tin tit for salting, even when kept in the
nets for a much longer time than that already mentioned. The salted lish has an extremely disa-
greeable smell, even after the stomach with its contents haa been removed. A microscopic exam-
ination of this matter showed that it consists entirely of the larval young of small shells found
among the sea-weed and belonging to the genus Rinsoa. These swim by means of two flippers,
covered with hairs, which are protruded from a transparent shell having from three to seven turns
or windings. They are about one-tenth of an inch in length, and on being touched draw within
the shell and sink to the bottom. When full grown, these mollusks lose their flippers and creep
a In MI t the sea-weed by means of a large foot. Thus, it is easy to understand why this 'black
meat' is more dangerous than the other kinds. While the shells of the animals forming the 'red
meat' are quite thin and the bodies of the 'yellow meat' are very soft, those of the 'black meat,'
on the contrary, being inclosed in hard shells, are not so readily reached by the digestive fluid, so
that while the exterior parts, namely, the swimming flippers, are quickly digested the rest of the
body within the shell becomes decomposed. On this account the flesh of the Herring after feeding
upon these mollusks soon becomes tainted by their decomposition and gives out a disagreeable
smell, notwithstanding the application of salt.

"It may be asked why the summer and autumnal Herrings feed upon this food and not the
spring Herring, nor those taken in the open sea, both the latter being capable of preservation
without any detention in the nets. The reason of this seems to be that, the spring and open-sea
Herrings are captured when under the stimulus of the spawning season and in the search for a
suitable place for the development of their young. At this time the question of food is reduced
to zero or near it, and a careful examination of the stomachs of Herrings taken under such circum-
stances shows comparatively little animal matter. Summer and autumn Herrings, on the other
hand, are specially engaged in seeking for food and bringing up their flesh, and that at a time
when the larva? of the lower animals are found swimming freely about in large quantity upon the
surface of the sea." 1

CAPTURE AND USES. The methods of capture of the Herring are fully described in the
chapter by Mr. Earll upon the herring fisheries of the United States (to be printed in a subse-
quent portion of this report).

"It is not a little remarkable," writes Professor Baird, "that while with most flsh the spawning

'Professor Miibins found that almost the sole food of the Herring taken in Kiel Bay, in the wintr and spring of
1B72, when they were captured in immense quantities, consisted of a minnte crnstaceoiiH animal, nearly allied to the
common fresh-water cyclops, and but little larger. The apparatus, which enables the Herring to feed on these
minute creatures, is described by Professor Mobius as a sort of basket or "lobster- pot," formed by the arches of the
gills, each of which is furnished with a close-set fringe of teeth, while each of the latter bears two rows of minute
spines. The interlacing of these teeth and spines produces a narrow lattice-work, through which the water can
readily pass, while the little swimtnin^animuls contained in it are left behind in the mouth of the fish and gradually
pass down into its stomach. Some notion of the number of little crustaceans consumed by the Herring may be funned
from the tact that I'mt'osor Mobiiis reckons 10,000 as the average number to lie found in a Herring's stomach, and in
one instance no fewer than I>1, 000 wen- I'munl. 'I'll.' sprat, the mackerel, and some other fishes, are provided with :ni
. pparatns more or less resembling that of the Herring. Annal of Natural Hulory.


season is considered an undesirable period for their capture, with the Clupeidce, such as the shad,
the alewife, and the sea Herring, they are then thought to bo in the greatest perfection; indeed,
females, full of partially developed eggs, are esteemed a great delicacy, both in regard to the fish
and the roe. Nearly all the European fisheries, especially those on the coast of Scotland, are
carried on when the fish is in full roe, when the taking of fish is considered very prejudicial to the
perpetuation of the species. The number taken, however, does not appear to affect the abundance
of the Herring, and, indeed, with the enormous yield of eggs, a very small percentage of adults
will keep up the supply.

" There appears to be as much uncertainty in Europe as there is in this country in regard to
the exact period of the growth of the Herring, Ljungman 1 remarking that the spring Herring
spawned in March attain a length of two and a half to three and a half iuches by the end of the
j ear, and that in the following May, or at the age of one year, their average length is four inches.
He states that the two-year-old fish range from five and a half to six inches in length, and that
those of three years are six or seven inches long, having the sexual apparatus complete but not
highly developed. The eight-inch fish are four years old, while those larger are of still greater age."

In Europe the ways in which Herrings are prepared for use as food are very numerous and
varied, there being many ways of salting them, many ways of smoking them, and many ways of
preserving them in spices. The day is probably not distant when Europe will follow the example
of the United States and employ them extensively in the manufacture of sardines. The European
fishery reports are full of codes of instruction for preparing the different grades of Herrings for expor-
tation and local consumption ; but, as a rule, these preparations are not congenial to the, American
palate, anil need not here be particularly described. Our supply of other excellent food fishes is so
great that but little attention is paid by American fishermen to the capture of Herrings for food.
Many cargoes of frozen Herrings are brought from Newfoundland and the Bay of Fnndy to Boston,
New York, and Philadelphia to serve for the food of the poorer classes during the Lenten season.
A limited quantity of pickled Herrings is also imported from the British Provinces. Smoked Her-
rings are produced to the amount of 370,015 boxes in Eastern Maine, and large quantities are
imported from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, which aie sent chiefly to the West and South,
though small quantities are consumed in the rural districts of New England. Before the rebellion
Eastern Maine engaged largely in herring-smoking for the purpose of supplying the demand of
the slave-owning States, and many cargoes of fish slightly pickled for smoking were brought from
the Magdalen Islands. This business was broken up by the war, and most of the smoke-houses
remain abandoned to this day. Considerable quantities of smoked Herrings are now put up in
small packages with skin and bones removed, under the trade name of " boneless Herring." By
far the greatest consumption of Herrings for food is in the shape of so-called saulines, packed
for the most part in cotton-seed oil, and in cans made in imitation of those imported from France.
This industry began in 1875 and increased yearly until 1880, when the production amounted to
2,377,152 one-pound cans, worth $772,176.

Fresh Herrings and salted Herrings are used extensively for bait in the halibut and cod fish-
eries, aud a special night fishery with torches for young Herrings, or Sperling, is carried on in the
fall months about Cape Ann, Massachusetts, for the supply of the shore fishermen.

remarked, the Herring fishery is not at present of sufficient importance upon our coast to have
provoked the protection of the law, although the only place in the world where the spawning
Herrings are protected by the law is at the southern end of Grand Mauan, within twenty-five miles

1 United States Fish Commission Report, \>. 144.


from tin- western boundary of tin- I'nited States. Tin- question of the protection of tin- Herring
is not likclvs.mii to come ni> in our legislatures. II lias, however, for many years been deeply
agitated in Knropc, and in(!reat I'.rit.iin especially lias occupied tin- attention of learned com-
mi.NsioiK tor periods cxtcn .ing over many inontlis. In 1S(>'_' and 1805 special commissions were
engaged in tin- investigation of the influence of the trawl-net fishery, particularly with reference, to
its connect! n with the herring lishcn . And it is a matter of considerable interest to he able to
quote in a few paragraphs t he conclnsi ins reached by Professor Huxley, who was a member of each
of these commissions, not liecanse. as already suggested, the question of protecting the herring
fishery is likely to be agitated in the United States, but because the same class of facts and the
same train of reasoning will apply with almost equal force to the problem of the protection of the
mackerel, menhaden, and other similar fisheries. He spoke as follows in 1881 in the lecture already
referred to:

"I do not believe that all the herring fleets taken together destroy five per cent, of the total
number of Herrings in the sea in any year, and I see no reason to swerve from the conviction my
colleagues and I expressed in our report, that their destructive operations are totally insignificant
when compared with those which, as a simple calculation shows, must regularly and normally
go on.

" Suppose that every mature female Herring lays 10,000 eggs, that the fish are not interfered
with by man, and that their numbers remain approximately the same year after year, it follows
that 0,1)98 of the progeny of every female must be destroyed before they reach maturity. For, if
more than two out of the 10,000 escape destruction, the number of Herrings will be proportion-
ately increased. Or, in other words, if the average strength of the shoals which visit a given
locality is to remain the same year by year, many thousand times the number contained in those
shoals must be annually destroyed. And how this enormous amount of destruction is effected
will be obvious to any one who considers the operations of the fin-whales, the porpoises, the
gannets, the gulls, the codfish, and the dog-fish, which accompany the shoals and perennially feast
upon them ; to say nothing of the flat-fish, which prey upon the newly -deposited spawn; or of the
mackerel and the innumerable smaller enemies which devour the fry in all stages of their develop-
ment. It is no uncommon thing to find five or six nay, even ten or twelve Herrings in the
stomach of a codfish, and in 18C3 we calculated that the whole take of the great Scotch herring
fisheries is less than the number of Herrings which would in all probability have been consumed
by the codfish captured in the same waters if they had been left in the sea. Man, in fact, is but
one of a vast co-operative society of herring catchers, and the larger the share he takes the less
there is for the rest of the company. If man took none, the other shareholders would have a
larger dividend, and would thrive and multiply in proportion, but it would come to pretty much
the same thing to the Herrings.

"As long as the records of history give us information, Herrings appear to have abounded on
the east coast of the British Islands, and there is nothing to show, so far as I am aware, that,
taking an average of years, they were ever either more or less numerous than they are at present.
I'.ut. in remarkable contrast with this constancy, the shoals of Herrings have elsewhere exhibited
a strange capriciousness visiting a given locality for many years in great numbers, and then .sud-
denly disappearing. Several well marked examples of this fickleness are recorded on the west
coast of Scotland; but the most remarkable is that furnished by the fisheries of Bohuslan, a
province which lies on the southwestern shore of the Scandinavian Peninsula. Here a variety
known as the 'old' or 'great' Herring, after being so extremely abundant, for about sixty years,


as to give rise to a great industry, disappeared in the year 1808, as suddenly as they made their
appearance, and have not since been seen in any number.

"The desertion of their ordinary grounds by the Herring has been attributed to all imaginable
causes, from fishing on a Sunday to the offense caused to the fish by the decomposing carcasses of
their brethren, dropped upon the bottom out of the nets. The truth is, that absolutely nothing is
known on the subject, and that little is likely to be known until careful and long-continued
meteorological and zoologico-1 observations have furnished definite information respecting the
changes which take place in the temperature of the sea, and the distribution of the pelagic
Crustacea which constitute the chief food of the herring shoals. The institution of systematic
observations of this kind is an object of international importance, toward the attainment of which
the British, Scandinavian, Dutch, and French Governments might wisely make a combined effort.

"A great fuss has been made about trawlers working over the spawning grounds of the
Herring. 'It stands to reason,' we were told, 'that they must destroy an immense quantity of the
spawn.' Indeed, this looked so reasonable that we inquired very particularly into a case of the
alleged malpractice which was complained of on the east coast of Scotland, near Pittenweem.
Off this place there is a famous spawning ground known as the Traith Hole, and we were told
that the trawlers worked vigorously over the spot immediately after the Herring had deposited
their spawn. Of course our first proceeding was to ask the trawlers why they took the trouble of
doing what looked like wanton mischief. And their answer was reasonable enough. It was to
catch the prodigious abundance of flat-fish which were to be found on the Traith at that time.
Well, then, why did the flat-fish congregate there? Simply to feed on herring eggs, which seem
to be a sort of flat-fishes' caviare. The stomachs of the flat-fish brought up by the trawl were, in
fact, crammed with masses of herring eggs. Thus every flat fish caught by the trawl was an
energetic destroyer of Herring arrested in his career. And the trawling, instead of injuring the
Herring, captured and removed hosts of their worst enemies. That is how ' it stood to reason '
when one got to the bottom of the matter.

"I do not think that any one who looks carefully into the subject will arrive at any other
conclusion than that reached by my colleagues and myself, namely, that the best thing for govern-
ments to do in relation to the herring fisheries is, to let them alone, except in so far as the police
of the sea is concerned. With this proviso, let people fish how they like, as they like, and when
they like. At present, I must repeat the conviction we expressed so many years ago, that there
is not a particle of evidence, that anything man does has an appreciable influence on the stock of
Herrings. It will be time to meddle when any satisfactory evidence that mischief is being done
is produced."


"This species," writes Professor Jordan, "is universally known as the Herring. It indeed
scarcely differs in size, appearance, or qualities from the Herring of the Atlantic. It reaches a

Online LibraryG. Brown (George Brown) GoodeThe fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) → online text (page 96 of 146)