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DIARY OF COMING ENGAGEMENTS.

LANCASHIRE'S CHALLENGE.

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LANCASHIRE'S CHALLENGE. For nearly a year past the Lancashire Sea Fisheries Committee has been manoeuvring, with the object of annexing the valuable sea fisheries of the Dee estuary. For nearly as long a period we have been endeavouring in our humble way to caution our Cheshire and Flint- shire readers against this imminent danger; and to-day we find our worst apprehensions justi- fied. The Lancashire County Council have, we understand, given notice to the authorities interested in the matter of their intention to apply to the Board of Trade for power to include the greater portion of the Dee estuary in the Lancashire district. The Lan- cashire invaders modestly propose to come up the Dee on the south shore to Connah's Quay, and to Burton Point on the northern bank (some three miles above Parkgate). We do not for a moment believe that the Board of Trade will listen to the preposterous proposals of Lancashire, con- ceived as they are in a spirit of unadulterated selfish aggrandisement; still it would be culpable folly for Cheshire and Flintshire men interested in the preservation of the fisheries of our noble river to sit with arms folded, and not stir a finger in self-defence, trusting implicitly to the Board of Trade's fairness and common- sense. The Board of Trade may be trusted to see justice done between the conflicting authorities, but it is obviously the duty of the Dee Fishery Board, the Cheshire and the Flintshire County Councils, to leave no stone unturned in order to expose the hol- lowness of the trick whereby Lancashire hopes to rob the fishermen of the Dee estuary of their birthright. To be perfectly frank, Lancashire ought to approach the Board of Trade, and inform that body that it proposes to seize the Dee estuary because it wants the fish- ing ground for its own purposes, and because it knows it can manage the fishery worse than the Dee Board has done in the past. That is the sum and substance of the whole matter. But that, of course, is the last thing that Lancashire is likely to say. The advocates of this policy of annexation will doubtless appear before the Board of Trade with a tale about the incon- venience of having two adjacent authorities working under different regulations, and plausibly protesting how much better the whole coast-line could be worked by one committee, that committee, of course, being Lancashire. They may further attempt to show that their sole object is to exploit the fishing ground to the best advantage, so that the most may be made of its resources for the teeming millions of Lancashire, who will then have a larger and cheaper supply of fish food. If Lancashire could bring any substantial proof of her ability to secure all these benefits by her proposed extension of boundary, the Board of Trade might be induced to listen to the scheme, but, judged on its merits, the proposal is about as monstrous as if the Lancashire County Council suggested to take over the main roads of Cheshire under its charge. The pro- posal, in short, has nothing to recommend it but its boldness. We have on other occasions cited facts and figures which prove to demonstration that the Dee Fishery Board not only knows its own business, but can manage the fisheries under its care in an infinitely more creditable manner than our northern neighbours manage theirs; and in the present instance we shall content ourselves with two instance we shall content ourselves with two points which bear strongly on the issue, and which the ordinary reader innocent of pis- catorial lore will readily grasp. In the Lancashire waters the trawlers are permitted to use a destructive engine known as a I rooter.' This consists of a heavy chain attached to either end of the trawl beam, and working from. 18 inches to two feet in advance of the trawl rope The appropriately named rooter' grubs up the sand or other deposit in the fishing bed, and throws innumerable immature fish into the trawl. Worse still, the pernicious engine rakes up and utterly destroys enormous numbers of shell fish and other fish food. Especially destructive is its effect upon cockle and mussel beds, and we are informed that the course of the deadly 'rooter' may be tracked along a bank by millions of small shells which once encased mussels and cockles that would, if allowed to reach maturity, have represented a considerable monetary value. The Dee Board, being fully aware of the sad havoc wrought in the estuary with this terrible engine, prohibited its use in the estuary, and the Board of Trade manifested its sympathy by its readiness to sanction the prohibition. Yet Lancashire, with all its boasted solicitude for the preser- vation and cultivation of the fishing grounds, still continues to sanction the 'rooter,' and if the proposed annexation of the Dee fishery district becomes an accomplished fact, our fishermen may anticipate a return of their arch enemy, the 'rooter,' in the waters of the Dee again with the Lancashire boats. The other example of Lancashire's inferior fishery protection to which we shall call attention is supplied by the presence of stake nets in the coast under Lancashire's super- vision, while those fixed engines are altogether prohibited within the estuary of the Dee, because they are detrimental in the highest degree to the migration of all fish. If the verdict were left to the Dee fishermen, we should entertain small doubt as to the result. The fishermen to a man are in favour of the reten- tion of the Dee fishery by local men. They resent the intrusion of a Lancashire authority. Perhaps our northern friends will cynically observe that the fishermen prefer the present regime because they dread the strictness of Lancashire regulations. So far from this being bhe case, however, the fishermen to their credit be it remembered, have been themselves the pioneers in several reforms. Take the matter f: of the mussels alone. It was the Dee fishermen s who first proposed to have a close time for s mussels, and it was they who raised a subscrip- ( tion among themselves and their friends to defray the expenses of advertising and passing f the new bye-law, and of the first prosecu- i tion under it. When the immense improvement 5 that followed in the wake of the close time be- i came apparent, the Fishery Board and the county councils went more liberally into the subject, detailed officers to preserve the mussel beds, and in other ways helped in the develop- ment of this valuable department of the fishery. It is gratifying and encouraging to find the fishermen working so harmoniously with the Fishery Board's officials. Some of the fishermen have actually obtained bailiffs' certificates, and render yeoman service in the protection of the fishery, while they, one and all, seem animated with a desire to carry out the regulations in the best possible spirit. The members of the Dee Fishery Board have already shewn their hostility to the proposed scheme of amalgamation in a more or less indirect way, while at the recent conference at Chester re- garding the projected Western Sea Fisheries District, Lancashire was told pretty plainly by both Cheshire and Flintshire, that no intrusion into the estuary of the Dee would be counten- anced. Yet in face of all this Lancashire is now bent on appealing to the Board of Trade for power to wrest the Dee estuary from the control of its natural and rightful guardians. The proposal is an insult:to the two counties bordering on the mouth of the river; it is a direct insinuation that they are incapable of managing their own affairs; and if they permit Lancashire to bully or cajole them out of their birth-right, they will be condemned by all who have the best interests of the Dee fisheries at heart.

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CHESTER CATHEDRAL.

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