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Fishing Grounds of the Gulf of Maine

At the different seasons of the year the entire Bay of Fundy is a fishing ground for sardines and large herring; and while these are of somewhat less importance in recent years than formerly, the principal fisheries of this region still center around the herring industries - the supplying of the canning factories with the small herring used as sardines and the taking of large herring for food and bait. The sardine industry of the State of Maine is largely concentrated in the district about and including Eastport and Lubec, where about 30 of the 59 factories and 16 of the 43 operating firms are located; so that, while the herring catches of recent years have fallen much short of their former proportions, they still show imposing figures.

In the past much of the catch was taken in St. Andrews (Passamaquoddy) Bay and along the north shore of the Bay of Fundy to Lepreau Bay and Point. Lepreau. Of late years virtually no herring have been taken in these waters, in which the herring schools that arrive in October were accustomed to remain until spring. Of past fishing in this locality Capt. Sumner Stuart, of Lubec, says:

"The herring left St. Andrews Bay and the North Shore about 1885. There is no summer netting there now. Those waters and Lepreau Bay were formerly very productive fishing grounds, it being not unusual to take 5,000 (count ) big herrings (food fish) in a single haul. These were mainly spring and winter fishing grounds for large herring. The fish seem to have disappeared from all these grounds at about the same time."

"In past years (25 to 30 years ago) small herring were driven ashore in such quantities by their enemies - squid, silver hake and dogfish - that it sometimes became necessary for the authorities at St. John to use a snowplow to cover them where they lay decaying on the beach."

From the statistics of the sardine and smoked-herring industry for the year 1924 (a year, be it noted, in which the sardine industry almost reached low--level mark for the pack) the waters of the Bay of Fundy furnished to American purchasers alone a total of herring for smoking and canning purposes amounting to 76,756,250 pounds valued to the fishermen at $957,665. This showing, poor as it is when compared with the figures of other years, by no means represents the herring fishery as an unimportant industry. There still remains to be accounted for the catch of herring of Grand Manan and the neighboring Canadian Provinces.

A new source of profit to the fishermen in this industry has been developed in the purchase of herring scales by firms engaged in the manufacture of artificial pearls. For this purpose there were collected at Eastport and Lubec 700.000 pounds of herring scales, valued at $39,000; and a further amount was taken at Grand Manan of 140.000 pounds. valued at $7, 000. With other entrants already in the field, this branch of the industry bids fair to grow to still greater importance.

An estimate of the number of weirs in St. Andrews Bay, by Capt.Guilford Mitchell. of Eastport, Me., is as follows: Canadian. 1921:126 weirs 1923: 40 weirs Calais to Eastport: 1921: 35 weirs; 1923: 7 weirs Total number in operation, 1923, Canadian, about 300; American, less than 130.

(Footnote 7) This, the most striking cape of the Atlantic coast line, made a very prominent landmark for all the early ocean voyagers approaching it, and all were greatly impressed by it, whether they came from the south and fought their way through its shoals to eastward, or, coming from the north, found themselves caught in the deep pocket which it makes with Cape Cod Bay.

The Spaniard Gomez (1525) gave it the name "Cabo de do Aricifes" cape of the reefs, referring to the dangerous shoals to the eastward. The Frenchmen Champlaiin and Du Monts named it Cape Blanc," and the Dutch pilots, also noting its sandy cliffs, called it Witte Hoeck. The English mariners at first accepted his last name of White Cape, but the English Captain Anthony Gosnold, the first to make a direct passage to the waters of the Gulf of Maine from Europe, although at first he called It "Shoal Hope," soon changed this. because of the success of his fishing, to "Cape Cod," which title, commonplace though it be. has been the name to endure despite Prince Charles's attempt to change it to Cape James in honor of his father.

(Footnote 8) Cape Sable. at the southern end of Nova Scotia, has held this title from very old times. It is so indicated on a Portuguese map of the middle of the sixteenth century.

(Footnote 9) "It [Fundy] was not clearly indicated by Verrazano (1524) nor in the report of Gomez (1525). who probably saw something of its entrance but fog or other unfavorable circumstances may have prevented him from observing it more accurately, but we find in the first old Spanish maps, in the latitude where it ought to be, names like these:

Rio hondo or ' fondo ' (a deep river) or Bahia Hondo (a deep bay), or Golfo (a gulf) once, also 'La Bahia de la ensenada', the bay of the deep inlet.

Doctor Kohl. here quoted further says "On the maps of the seventeenth and early part of the eighteenth century, especially, it is written Bay of Funda. I believe that this name grew out from and is a revival of, the old Spanish name ‘Bahia fondo'"

(Footnote 10) It is gratifying to announce that the winter of 1025-20 saw a large run of herring on this ground. where for a number of years past there has been virtually no fishing for this species.

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