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WESTERN SEA FISHERIES. QUARTERLY MEETING OF COM- MITTEE. The quarterly meeting of the Western Sea Fisheries Committee was held at the Police Station, Portmadoc, on Tuesday, when there were present Mr Henry Bonsall, Aberystwyth, chairman, pre- siding Colonel 0. Ll. J. Evans, Pwllheli Messrs Harry Clegg, Anglesey Lewij Lewis, Barmouth John Williams, Borth, Portmadoc John Hughes, Portdinorwic Richard Davies, Portmadoc Raudal Casson, clerk Richard Davies, bailiff for the ■oathern district; David Pritchard, bailiff for the central district, and Robt. Jones, bailiff for the northern district. FINANCIAL POSITION. At the Finance Committee meeting held at the outset, the CLERK announced that there was now a balance in hand of £234 12* 9d. After paying all expenses up to December next, there would he a good balance in hand. Cardigan County Council was the only county council behindhand in paying the precept. Colonel LLOYD EVANS—We are cow in a better position than we have ever been. Mr CLEGG—And ws must jog the Cardigan County Council, so as to furtner improve our posi- tion. A DEFAULTING TRAWLER. The Clerk reported that a, steam trawler from Milford Haven had been fined £15 and costs at Aberayron for having trawled within the prohibited limits. Evidence had been given by three person* engaged on board three fishing boats, on whose information proceedings were instituted and they each claimed 10s expenses and £ ] for loss sustained in attending the Police Court. The Aberayron magistrates allowed each witness 10s, but ieffc the claim for loss of time to the Committee. In the discussion which followed, it was stated that the fine was not paid to the Committee, but to the Cardigan County Council. The CLERK expressed the opinion that neither the County Council nor the C jmmittee were en- titled to the fine. He believed that it ought to be paid to the Exchequer. Mr RICHARD DAVIES—It is certainly no fair that Cardigan County Council should have all this money. Toe Committee will be out of pocke; over the proceeding- to the extent of about f6. The CHAIRMAN—We have to choose the worst of two evils. It is better for the fine to go to Cardigan County Council, who pay to.vards the general ex- penses of the Committee, thau to the Exchequer. He added with regard to the cldm of the three witnesses that it was absolutely esssntial that tae Committee should have the assistance of the fisher- men, and he was in favour of paying them the sum they asked. Colonel EVANS proposed that the Committee should pay them £1 each in additiou to the 10s allowed by the magistrates and Mr CLEGG seconded the proposition, which was agreed to 1 unanimously. The CHAIRMAN said special praise was dn8 to Bailiff Richard Davies for the raanBer he collected the evidence for the case. He had exercised great vigilance. INABILITY TO ATTEND. Letters regretting enforced absence were read from Mr E. Wood, Conway Mr Edward Owen, Carnarvon Dr Charles Williams, Dyffryn and Mr W. R. M. Wynne, Peniarth, Towyu. ASSISTANCE GRANTED. The chief constables for Carnarvon, Cardigan, and Anglesey wrote stating that the police would assist the officers of the Committee in every way in their power in carrying out tLe regulations. The CLERK said he had received no reply fram Major Beat, chief constable for Merioneth. OJTICERS' QUARTERLY REPORTS—SEA EEDLF. NETS. The CHAIRMAN said the three officers had dis- charged their duties in a most exemplary manner during the past quarter. Every portion of the dis trict had been regularly visited. They had reported several irregularities to the Clerk, and in the event of a continuance of such irregularities proceedings would be taken. Bailiff Robert Jones of the northern division reported that the mussel season, which opened on September 1st, promised to be prosperous. The fishermen said mu-sels were very plentiful and they expressed pleasure at the protection afforded by the Committee. In three hours one fisherman procured five and a quarter bags which he sold for £1 Is. Several women made from 21s to 22s 61 by means of picking mussels. Usually, the Conway and Redwharf bays were fished by the Isle of Man and Hoylake boats, but during last quarter none of them had visited the bays, having found good fish- ing off the N. W. lightship in their own district. The boats would probably visit the bays shortly and stay until Christmas. No doubt they would find the na) s well stocked with fish. Plaice fishing in Holyhead had not been a3 good as in the corres- ponding quarter of last year. Codfish, congereels, and lobsters were more plentiful than ever. One boat landed 1,420 lobsters during the season and secured good prices for them. The lowest price was 9d per pound. Trawliug in Carnarvon Biy had been poor as the result of the calm weather. When trawlers got enough wind to drag their nets they found good fishing, particularly in soles. Some boats had caught 100 pounds in one drag. There had been an influx of mackerel in the bay, but the calm weather prevented the boats from working their lines. Mr CLEGG said he was told there were very few mackerel and he asked whether the Bailiff was certain on that point; and the BAILIFF replied in the affirmative. In answer to the Chairman, the BAILIFF said he had found nets in several boats with meshes not of the legal size. He had warned them not to use them. Colonel EVANS asked if he had any trouble in boarding the trawlers and he replied in the nega- tive. Bailiff David Pritchard of the middle division reported that first class trawlers had done well in Pwllheli on the average better t'1an last year. No strange trawlers had landed fish at Pwllheli during the last three mon'hs. So It had been very plenti- ful in Cardigan Bay. The fish had come within the limits and were on the small grounds of Port madoc harbour, where good catches were made when the breeze was strong enough for trawling. He found that first and second class trawlers were adhering strictly to the bylaws. About twenty Brixham trawlers were reported in Cardigan Bay during the quarter. They landed very large catches at Milford, with a large peicentage of soles. Good nrices were obtained. The crab and lobster fishing had greatly improved since his last report, being more numerous, and larger, and of finer quality. Mackerel had been very plentiful between Njvin and Ki'an Head, but not sotplentifu) in Pwllheli Bav as last year. Draw netting had proved fairly successful, but he had found some difficulty with the owners of the nets on account of their inclina- tion to take advantage of the sections of the Act providing for the use of sea- needle nets Fishermen were now using draw nets of bout sixty yards long with a two inch mesh, They caught and destroyed a large number of immature fish under the pre- tence that they were fishing for sea-needles He had warned them on several occasions, but they said they were complying with the bylaws. It was reported to him that there was illegal crab and lobster fishing going on at Llwyngwril. He went there, but found nothing wrong. He also found that there was no truth in report. from Barmouth about illegal draw-netting and unlawful devices for catch- ing&fi*h by a party of visitors. Long line fishing had been good, some persons making from 10, to 12, a day. Fish came well into shore this summer. Mussel fishing opened at fortmadoc on September 1st. Splendid hauls were made, the fishermen earning on an average 9 a day Shrimps and prawns of an excellent quality had been found in abundance at Barmouth and Llwyngwril. On cruising through Pwllheli Bay he found it swarm- iiig with young seals which were supposed to be herring seals. Mr JOHN WILLIAMS said there were bitter com- plaints about the capture of immature fish under the pretence of catching sea needles and he thought something should be done to remedy the evil. The CHAIRMAN sai l it was quite right for Mr Williams to mention the IIlatter and it now devolved upon the Committee to decide whether it was worth while going to ths expense of making a new bylaw dealing with the matter. Alderman LEWIS—Can we prosecute without making a new bylaw? The CHAIRMAN—I do not think we have the power. The CLERK said there was no bylaw regulating the size of the mesh for catching sea needles. How- ever, the Committee could take action against those using nets not in compliance with the bylaws. The BAILIFF, in reply to questions, said large numbers of sprats, flatfish, < tc., were caught by these persons who excused themselves by saying they were only fishing for sea needles. Moreover, these nets were used where there were no sea needles at all. No doubt they also caught salmon in addi- tion to sprats and flatfish The CLERK said :it «.would be difficult to prove intent on the part of the defaulters. The Bailiffs for the northern and southern dis- tricts said they had experienced no trouble in this connection in their districts. The Committee decided that it was not worh while formulating a new bylaw and left the matter in the hands of the Clerk with power to take action if he deemed it advisable. Bailiff Rd. Davies reported that trawl fishing had not been carried on by local fisherrren in generd. The tine weather was favourable to boating and the fishermen made a lot of money by means of their pleasure boats. The New Quay trawl fishermen informed him that the trawling grounds were well stocked with prime fish. Mackerel were plentiful, large quantities being caught when the wind was favourable. Plaice fishing in the Dovey had been better this summer than for many years. Lobsters were plentiful at Llwyngwril and fine prawns had been taken in large numbers beWeen Fring and Barn Reef. In fact, prawns, lobsters, together with crabs had been abundantly caught all along the coast down to Cardigan. Beach fishing had been moderately good at Towyn and fair at Borth. He found it difficult to supervise the coast in connection with fishing for lobsters, crabs, and prawns, as nearly all persons fished for them at low water. Everywhere offenders pleaded ignorance of the law. The regulations which were posted up « ere being continually torn off purposely. He had failed to post the bylaws in prominent places at Llwyngwril, Tonfanau, Towyn, Borth, and the north end of the Marine-terrace, Aberystwyth. The Aberystwyth Corporation had given him authority to place the regulation in prominent places at the Harbour and Alltwen beach. He was not allowed to post them on the property of the Cambrian Railway Company without the permis- sion of Smith and Son. The cockle beds on the south side of the Dovey were stocked with large cockles of good quality and the Y nyla bed was also well stocked. Herring fishing had not yet commenced. After some discussion as to the posting of the regulations, it was agreed that the bailiffs should submit comprehensive reports on the matter to the next meeting. ANNUAL REPORT. The report for the year ending June 30th, 1S99, which will be submitted to the county councils, was laid before the Committee and was as follows "The reports of the fishery bailiffs show that the work of this Committee is progressing very satisfactorily. The bylaws are now well known throughout the district and the fishermen ob-en e them willingly as a rule. There is occasional difficulty with trawlers, but the bailiffs keep strict watch and insist on the bylaws as to length of beam and iz" of mesh being strictly kept. Mussel and cockle gathering is now an important industry throughout the district and the bylaws prohibiting the taking of small shell fish and providing for their return to the beds has had a beneficial effect. The fish are of good quality and, except at Ynyslas, near bel" dovey, there are large and increasing quantities gathered for market. At Ynyslas shifting prevent the increasp. of the quantity of mu-sls. In consequence of statements made by fishermen that large quantities of fish were destroyed by torpedo firing from H.M.S. "Colossus" an inter- view was arranged with Captain Johnston, R.N.. on board his vessel. The Western Sea Fisheries deputation was received very coulially by Captain Johnston who, on hearing the nature of th. complaint, promised that torpedo pracice should not in future be earned on where any injury could be done to the fishing industry. There have been two prosecutions for offences against the bylaws by steam trawling within the limits. In one case, at Aberayron, the defendant was fined £10 and costs; the other case, at P*vll- he!i, was dismissed. The proposed amalgamation with the Lancashire Sea Fisheries district ha* not yet been completed, but the draft order has been made and promulgated for the approval of the various bodies concerned and the matter is pro- ceeding satisfactorily. Dilegates from the Com- mittee attended the annual conference at the Board of Trade in London in June last. Discussion took place and general dissatisfaction was expressed by the dele- gates at the want of energy shown by the Board of Trade in carrying through legislation which has been continuously urged upon that Board by sea fisheries committees since 1S90, particularly with regard to the expenses of sea fisheries committees being defrayed from the Imperial Exchequer, as embodied in the resolution of the Carnarvon County Council of 1891 and other matters calculated to effect the objects of the sea fisheries committees." THE AMALGAMATION SCHEME. SPIRITED REMARKS BY THE CHAIRMAN. The Clerk, explaining the present position of matters with reference to the proposed amalgama- tion of the Western district with the Lancashire district, said copies of the draft order had been sent to each of the four county councils in the Vv estern district. The Merioneth.. oun'y Council had formally approved of the order as accepted by the Western Committee. He had received no objection of any description to the order, and no doubt had the Board of Trade received objections they would have informed the Committee of them. He had received a letter from the Board of Trade stating that after carefully considering the resolu tions passed hy the Committee with respect to the draft order, thay had decided that they could not insert the clause suggested by the Committee giving power to determine the amalgamation of the districts at the expiration of any quinquennium after the coming into force of the Order, as there would appear to be no statutory authority to provide by the Order for a union determinable otherwise than in the manner provided by the Act. The CHAIRMAN asked if it was necessary that the four county councils should express their approval and the Clerk replied that they could object. It did not matter whether they expressed approval or took no action. Mr CLEGG said the Anglesey County Council were strongly in favour of adding the quinquennium clause. fhey did not see why the western district could not, at the end of five years, determine the amalgamation if they so desired. As matters stood, the power to determine was left entirely in the hands of the Board of Trade. Alderman LEWIS asked if the amalgamation wa.s likely to come to force soon ? The CHAIRMAN —In about a year. The CLERK, however, said if no objection was raised to the Order in Parliament, it would come into force early next year, that was, provided the Committee decided that day to waive their applica- tion to insert the quinquennium clause. The CHAIRMAN the Western Committee, as a body, had approved of the Order long ago. If one of the county councils obstructed, the Com- mittee could not help it. Mr RICHARD DAVIES said Carnarvon County Council also favoured the quinquennium clause. The CHAIRMAN said to proceed he was prepared to move the adoption of the Order as recommended by the Board of Trade, that was, leaving out the quinquennium clause. Mr CLEGG—If you do, I shall move an amend- ment.. The CHAIRMAN—That is the worst of it. We shall never be able to get on this way. Mr JOHN HPGIIES suggested that the matter should be left in abeyance for three months in order to ascertain definitely the opinion of all con- cerned on the matter. He took it that the time for objections had not expired. The CHAIRMAN—Yes, it has. Mr CLEGG—Oh, no. If we approved of the Order to-day then the time would be past; but if we defer consideration the time will not be past. The CHAIRMAN—But the Beard of Trade have power to overrule our objection. Mr RICHARD DAVIES—In that case we will have done our best. I am in favour of making another appeal to insert the quinquennium clause. The CHAIRMAN—But they say definitely in their letter that they will not insert the clause. Mr CLKGG-They want the power to determine in their own hands. This is not right. The scheme should be tried as an experiment for five years, and in the event of matters not proceeding satisfactorily power should be given both the western and Lanca- snire districts to determine the amalgamation it they so wished. The CHAIRMAN failed to see why there should be any fear whatever, seeing that the maximum rate would not he more than one-sixteenth of a penny. Moreover it was not likely that at any time such a large district like Lancashire would ever increase the rate to the present rate of the western district. To his mind this hesitation on the part of some of the Welsh counties was only pusillanimity. All along there had been want of confidence on the fHrt of certain counties in the western district. Why should they be so loth to accept this benefit from English counties ? There was great work to be done in the western district and they were all aware that the Western Committee could not hope to do work efficiently. Then why in the name of all that was reasonable did they not let those who were willing to help them do so ? They were playing.1 rlog-in-the-manger game at present. Not only would the Committee gain in supervision of fisheries by amalgamation, but they would also gain pecuniarily. They had for years contended that the large cities and towns in England to whom the mjor portion of the fish caught was sent should contribute towards the cost of the fisheries and now that they were steering in the very direc- tion they had been aiming for for years they were likely to defeat their own ends. Lancashire was willing to assist them and the Western Committee now raised these finicking points which would wrest from the Committee that which they had been striving for for so long. Mr CLEGG-I must rise to a point of order. I must ohj to the observations and discussions of the county councils being described in these terms. The CHAIRMAN—I must repeat w hat I say. They are but finicking points, or what you might call technical quibbles. I am prepared to resign the chair on this question, with which, as you know, I have identified myself to a considerable extent. I believe amalgamation with Lancashire will benefit the fisheries in the western district greatly. I am prepared to resign on this matter. In fact, if the Committee do not proceed to a head now, I shall not feel justified in retaining the chair. Alderman LEWIS LEWIS said perhaps those county councils who were inclined to waver did not know that at prtsent the Committee spent £720 a year iti looking after the fisheries of the district, whereas under the amalgamation scheme they would only have to pay £162 a year. The longer amalgamation was delayed the greater the loss to the counties. It meant a loss of £558 per annum. Seeiug that the district would benefit financially and in supervision why this dilly-dallying? Mr RICHARD DAVIF. said he had supported the scheme from the start, but he thought there should be some provision for determining amalgamation in five years in the event of the fishermen in their district finding it detrimental. He did not see why ohj-ction should be raised to the inclusion of such a clause. Mr CLEGG agreed with Mr Davies, He had also been strongly in favour of amalgamation, but he was against the hands of the western district being tied for ever. Let them have a chance in five years to say whether they approved or disapproved the experiment. The Chairman having said that perhaps it was as well to defer the matter, seeing that there was a small attendance, Mr RICHARD DAVIES moved that the matter should be deferred for three months and that a further appeal to insert the five years' clause should be made to the Board of Trade. Mr CLEGG seconded the proposition which was agreed to. TRAWLING AT COWAY. The Board of Trade wrote stating that not suffi cient notice had been given in respect of the by- law adopted at a special meeting prohibiting traw- ling over the mussel beds at Conwaj. On the motion of Mr JOHN HUSHES, seconded by Alderman LEWIS, the motion to adopt the bylaw was confirmed. DEFERRED. The question of making a donation to the funds of the Conway Fishery Board was deferred to the next meeting. M CSS EL BEDS. Alderman LEWIS a-kerl what had been done with regard to the mussel heds at Portmadoc? The CLERK leplied that he had been prevented from making inquiries owing to the sad death of Major Roche. He would approach the new owner as soon as possible. Alderman LEWIS said he would like the Com- mittee to have control over all mussel beds in the district. Had they control over private beds? The CLERK—Nc. OYSTERS. Aiderman LEWIS afterward asked whether it was not possible to do something to revive the oyster industry in the district ? Many years ago the dis- trict derived much pr tit from this source. The Committee had power to spend money in cultivating and developing this branch of fishery. The CHAIRMAN—It coltll only be done by means of oyster hatche.ries. Perhaps amalgamation with Lancashire will bring this about. (Laughter.) Alderman LEWIS-I shall introduce the matter again before long. The Committee then rose.



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