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---SALTNEY AND INCORPORATION.…

CLOSE OF THE DEE SALMON SEASON.…

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CLOSE OF THE DEE SALMON SEASON. CAUSES OF THE FAMINE. Yesterday (Tuesday) saw the close of the salmon fishing season in the Dee so far as the Bets are concerned, and with a view of obtain- ing some information as to the causes of the almost unprecedented scarcity of fish, one of our representatives waited upon Mr. J. Simpson, the superintendent of the Dee Fishery Board. Although a few splendid fish have been Caught during the last few days," said Mr. Simpson, the season has proved the most unremunerative one that the fishermen have experienced for some years, and they con- sequently cannot have much in store to tide themselves over a severe winter. Generally in off' seasons of this kind when salmon are scarce, the finny philosophers (as I call them) give vent to their theories, and the present occasion is no exception to the rule, as we have been told by one writer in the Courant that it is the pollution which stops the fish from coming up; by another of equal experience and authority that the fish are frightened out of the estuary by porpoises; and by a third that the river is being over-netted and mismanaged by the Board. No one will doubt that pollution is hurtful to a salmon fishery, and that porpoises live on salmon when they can get them goes far to prove that they must be unwelcome visitors to the estuary. But we have no evidence that there has been more pollution this season than formerly, nor am I aware that there have been more porpoises in the river; so that neither pollution nor porpoises—hurtful though they both are to the productiveness of any fiabery-can be said to account for the present salmon famine. As to the allegation of over-netting, though the number of nets has certainly been increasing during the past five years, the total number taken out this season is exactly the same as last, there being one draft licence more and one trammel less. The numbers are: 71 draft, 16 trammels, and eight coracles." What, then, is your own opinion as to the recent depletion of the river ? "—" Well, it appears to me we must look for a cause of a less local character. The present famine affects not only the Dee, but all the salmon rivers in Great Britain and Ireland, and my own opinion is that it can only be attributed to a bad spawn- ing season, due to the disturbance of the salmon beds by floods. Anyone who has a knowledge of salmon culture knows how tender the eggs are from the time they are deposited until they develop into the eyed stage. Even in removing dead eggs out of a tray in an artificial hatchery, it is found that the least touch will kill any other egg. Well, it follows that a severe flood coming after the salmon have deposited their eggs in the river bed, must have a most disastrous effect. The gravel beds are disturbed, the eggs come in contact with the stones or are washed up, and a tremendous percentage of the spawn is thus lost. I have myself over and over again seen beds where fish have deposited their spawn being entirely swept away; in fact, these gravel streams where fish spawn are more liable to be disturbed, because the surface of the bed is broken by the fish stirring up the gravel and giving the water a hold. That these floods have something to do with it is proved by the serious absence of grilse this year. No doubt a tremendous number of fry migrate to the sea in April, May, and June, and it is a theory held by a good many that these return two months later as grilse weighing 51b. or 61b. However, I am not one of those who have seen any actual proof of this. I have fry in the hatchery now two years old, and which, according to this theory, would be 41b. or 51b. in weight. As a matter of fact, they do not scale half a pound. Ne doubt they would have been somewhat heavier if allowed to migrate with the rest of the brood to the sea, but I consider the deficiency too great to be accounted for in that way. The fact that we must occasionally be pre- pared for a general famine, such as has been experienced here this year, is more generally recognised in America, where the term 'off' year is quite familiar, and such a thing is expected. However, the salmon hatcheries' have done much to lessen this, as the spawn in them is always secure; and I have no doubt that in another year the fishing in this country will probably be as good as ever. There is nothing whatever to make one think that our own river is going back, for up to this year there have been signs of its improving, as the fishermen generally admit. The cause of the failure this year is, as I have said, that there has been some destructive engine at work on the beds during some time within the past five years. What was the precise time I am unable to say, for the damage done by a storm to the spawning beds may not be discovered till three or four years later." Questioned as to the doings of the coracles, Mr. Simpson said they had been no exception to the general rule, and had had a very bad year. As to the rod fishing, which does not close till November, Mr. Simpson expressed the hope that the anglers would meet with better luck. There is an improved fresh in the river now, and a few fish have been taken during the last few days. Last week a great number of salmon reached Llangollen weir, and were seen endeavouring to get higher up, but very few were able to surmount that obstacle. These were old red fish, and had undoubtedly been a long time in the river without rising to the fly"

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