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No. 444.-JULY, 1915.


Vol. II,

1. Report of the Committee appointed to consider applica

tions of the Devon and Cornwall Local Fisheries Committees for Grants from the Development Fund for assisting Fishermen [etc.] (Cd. 6752.) London: Wyman,

1913. 2. Report of the Departmental Committee on Inshore

Fisheries. Vol. I, Report and Appendices.
Minutes of Evidence and Index. (Cd. 7373 and 7374.)

London: Wyman, 1914. The fable of killing the goose that lays the golden eggs is as true to-day as ever it was. It is an old story how the Enclosures Acts stole the common from the goose, expropriated the peasantry, destroyed the old village life, and led to the substitution of tenant farmers on large estates for the famous English yeomen. It may very well be that enclosures did result in improved farming on a larger scale. Quite possibly the old-style

a farming of the village communities was wasteful and unprogressive. But we have since found that we want a sturdy peasantry on the land. We want healthy villages that are something more than dead-alive, the independence that goes with security of tenure, the intensive cultivation which implies small farms and a personal interest in every yard of them. If what has been done in Ireland by land legislation and the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society had been done in England then, it is probable that the peasantry need never have been driven from the land, and the history of rural England would have been very different and far better. But that Vol. 224.-No. 444.


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was thought of too late. The economists of that day had not learnt that it is the function of industry to produce men as well as goods, livelihoods as well as profits.

The analogy of enclosures and agriculture with the inshore fisheries is close. Inshore fishermen are the peasant proprietors of the sea-proprietors, not in virtue of possession, but as having made it their own.

"The sea is ours, Us uses it;

Us knows its ways, An' chooses it!' Two Government Committees, which went round the coast among fishermen, came to the conclusion that they 'form a community most valuable to the nation and worth every effort to preserve.' Nevertheless, they have been neglected. They have not been well enough organised to compel attention and maintain themselves. Under the pressure of social and economic forces, they have been declining; but it is not too late to revive them.

The Departmental Committee was much exercised at first by the difficulty of defining an inshore fishery. As well try to define a working man, though everybody knows what he means by the term. And anybody acquainted with fisheries knows quite well what is an inshore fishery, though no hard and fast line of distinction can be drawn. The steam trawlers of Grimsby, the steam drifters of Lowestoft, are obviously deep-sea craft. The crabbers of the west-country coves, the East coast cobles, undecked drifters, the oyster dredgers who work in creeks, and the pêcheurs à pied, as the French call them, who go mussel and cockle raking on the mudflats, or winkle picking and prawning among the rock pools, as plainly come within the inshore category. But what about the St Ives luggers, which drift for mackerel out by the Scillies, but for herrings close under land? Are they inshore or deep-sea fishermen ?

The answer is, that the inshore fisheries are characterised not so much by the size of their boats and the distance of their fishing grounds from land, as by their style of fishing and the nature of their business arrangements. Usually, it is true, the inshore fisherman goes to sea in a comparatively small sailing or rowing boat, though auxiliary motors are rapidly coming into use on some parts of the coast. Sometimes he fishes out of a small tidal harbour or river, sometimes from a sheltered cove, often from an open beach, where a high degree of skill is necessary to avoid surf accidents in rough weather. It is noteworthy that fisheries do not flourish, as a rule, in commercial harbours; the opportunity of casual work, when fishing is slack, seems to have a bad effect on fishing morale ; for, though fishing itself is chancy in the extreme, a veritable gamble with the sea, it is not a hand-to-mouth job, in that if a fisherman, when he makes a haul, does not know how to put by a bit of money and keep his gear up, he soon has to go out of fishing. Fishermen do best, indeed, when they keep themselves to themselves.

Only the harbour boats are decked, and not all of those. Hence, although the inshore fisherman does not by any means confine himself to territorial or inshore waters, he cannot keep the sea for long together. Usually he goes out for a day or a night's fishing, according to what he is on upon, and the best time for doing it. No one who has ever squatted, damp and shivering, in an open boat through a long winter's night, will blame him for liking, if possible, to get his feet ashore and himself into a feather-bed once during the twenty-four hours. Unlike the deep-sea men, he does not, if he can help it, ride out great gales; he runs for home; but in shuffling weather he handles his little craft with a skill that amounts to instinct. The old sailingboat seamanship, which has been lapsing under steam, survives in the inshore fisheries. Motors, on the other hand, will probably make an end of the old feats of endurance in rowing for hours against a headwind.

Whereas the steamers and deep-sea craft are mostly trawlers, drifters, or long-liners, in the inshore fisheries an endless variety of gear is used, some of it, such as the thorn hooks of the Thames Estuary and the kettlenets of Rye, extremely curious and antique. Chief among the nets are drift-nets, which drift with the tide, like a vast curtain, for herrings, mackerel, pilchards, sprats, and on the north-east coast for salmon; the beam or otter trawl, which scrapes up whatever fish may happen to be in its track, mostly flat fish; seines for shooting around and enclosing mackerel, pilchards, sprats, mullet, bass, or any fish that shoals near land ; and various kinds of moored nets or trammels. Longlines or boulters, with several hundreds or thousands of baited hooks, are set mainly for cod and rough fish, rays, congers and the like; while handlines are used for catching almost any fish on the feed, including dogfish-nowadays worth up to two guineas a hundred on Plymouth Barbican. Whiffing lines are trailed behind a moving boat for mackerel or pollack. Pots of withy or of stout netting on a frame are used for crabs, lobsters, crayfish, prawns and whelks; but it is to be noted that pot fishermen, whatever they may happen to be catching, are commonly called crabbers. Each variety of gear calls for its own special knowledge. At most fishing stations one or other method of fishing predominates, be it drifting, lining, crabbing or seining. Most distinctively, there are drift ports and crabbing ports. Those places, however, are best proof against runs of ill luck, and consequent distress, which possess the gear to turn from one fishing to another. Inshore motor trawling, for example, permitted in Cornwall though forbidden in most fishery districts, has luckily enabled the East Cornish motor fishermen to pay their way through a succession of bad drift seasons.

Statistics of fish caught and their value are collected for the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries, and published in its Annual Report. The share of the inshore fisheries works out at about 10 per cent. by value; but there is reason to suspect a good many of the figures collected of being merely guess-work. Add to that the disinclination of many fishermen to tell what they have caught, the landings where there is no collector, and the fact that large bulks of fish, caught by inshore craft, are landed at deep-sea ports; and it is safe to say that statistics greatly under-estimate the fish and money value of the inshore fisheries.

The ownership of deep-sea craft approximates to that of small merchant vessels. As a rule, they are companyowned, or at any rate shore-owned ; and the skipper who becomes his own owner is in a fair


of business to become somebody else's owner. Pay is by wage and commission. An inshore skipper, on the other hand, is almost always his own owner, at least nominally. Where,

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