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_"--_.----ITHE DEE SALMON…


THE DEE SALMON FISHERY. Mr. Frank Buckland and Mr. S. Walpolc, in- spectors of fisherieg, have recently reported on the bve-iaws made by the Conservators of the Dee Fishery district altering the close time for salmon in that district. The bye-laws provided that the close season for all modes of salmon fishing (ex- cept with rod and line) shall commence on the Ififch September, and terminate on the 2nd March. For rod and line, the close season snail commence on 1st December, a.nd terminate on the 31st March- The following is a summary of the report of the inspectors:— The River Dee is one of the most important salmon rivers of the country. It is universally admitted that the fisheries of the river have prospered under the Salmon Fishery Acts; and in consequence of the preservation which these Acts have obtained for it. The nets have increased in number in consequence of the increased number of fish. The rods have enjoyed better sport, and the smolts seen in the river have become much more numerous. The increase is the more satisfactory because the Dee, like many other rivers, suffer from pollution, and these pollutions, except for the counter effect of preservation, could hardly have had any other than an injurious effect on the fisheries. Up to 1861, when the first of the existing Salmon Fisheries Acts was passed, the magistrates in quarter sessions made the close season commence on the 1st of September, and terminate on the 25th of January. The fishermen do not seem to have readily accepted this close season, and have continually urged the con- servators to make application for the variation of the close season, and the desire for this alteration is shared both by the draft-net and trammel-net fishermen below Chester, and the coracle fishermen between Chester and Holt. Above Holt, on the contrary, the coracle-net fishermen are of a different opinion. The net fishermen thus are divided as to the propriety of the bye-law. The vast majority of them living below Holt are in favour of it; a small minority living above Holt are opposed to it. The water above Holt, where the minority reside, has lately been fished by an associ- ation of gentlemen known as the Mid Dee Club. And the majority of the members of this club, like the net fishermen on the lower portion of the river, are in favour of an alteration of the close season. They wish the angling season to be extended to the end of November and are willing, for this ex- tension, to give up the months of February and March, and they are consequently prepared, for the sake of securing this change, to concede to the net fishermen an extension similar in principle to that which they re- quire for themselves. The view which is thus expressed by the members of this club is not, however, shared by the anglers of the Dee generally. Some of the proprietors, indeed, say that the season is too long already, and that it ought to close at the beginning or middle of October. There is, then, no clear consensus of opinion on the Dee respecting the merits of the application for an al- teration in the close season. The Conservators them- selves seem also divided upon it. The proprietors of the Dee, the net fishers, and the anglers are, then, all divided on the policy of the pro- posed bye-laws and the Conservators themselves com- posed of all these classes, share the same differences of opinion. We are then driven to general principles for a solution of the problem which has been referred to us. The interests of the rivers generally are concerned in sanctioning as few departures as possible from the close season fixed by the Legislature, since any devia- tion from uniformity increases the difficulties of preservation. On the Dee, indeed, this view has less force than on other rivers, being partly Welsh and partly English. The Welsh rivers have for the most part received an additional fortnight's fishing season, whilst the English have almost universally been refused it. The Dee then is geographically connected with those riveis which have been allowed a later close season than others, and there could, therefore, be less objection to an alteration in its close season than to an alteration in the close season of other English rivers. We are bound also to admit that in one other respect the Dee is entitled to consideration. We purposely deferred our inquiry to the last week of the fishing season, in order that we might have the opportunity of seeing the condition of the fish in the Dee at the end of August. We have no hesitation in saying that the fish were less advanced in spawn than we had expected. We have no hesitation in saying that fish was in ex- cellent order. On the other hand, even the fishermen who advocated the change allowed that the fish are more backward this year than usual, and it seems, there- fore, a fair presumption that if our inquiry had taken place in a hotter year we should have found the spawn of the fish much more developed. We have now only to sum up our general conclusion on the matter. On the one side, then, we are prepared to admit that the condition of the fish in the Dee would justify the extension of the net season into September, and the extension of the rod season into November; that such extension would be popular among a majority of the net fishermen, and a minority of the anglers and that it would not be very injurious to the interests of other rivers. On the other hand, we feel bound to observe that there is only a small majority of the Board in favour of the change; that the Magistrates in Quarter Sessions before 1861 refused to adopt it; and that there is no doubt that it is most distasteful to the vast majority of the upper proprietors of the river. Under these circumstances it remains for us to deter- mine what the Home Office should do. It seems to- us that opinion on the river is not clear enough to justify it in doing anything. In other words, that the argue- ments for change are not strong enough to justify the Home Office in overruling the objections to change on the part of the upper proprietors. The upper proprietor on any river are a class deserving exceptional considera- tion. They hold the grounds on which the fish mainly spawn, and their good-will is essential for the prosperity of the river, we very mucn aouos wnecner, unaer any circumstances, it can be to the interest of the Conserva- tors to insist on a change which is disliked by the upper proprietors. We feel sure that it cannot be to their interest to do so when the objections of the upper pro- prietors are shared as they are on the Dee by other parties. We have, then, arrived at the conclusion that it is not desirable that the bye-laws which have been re- ferred to us by Mr. Secretary Cross should be approved, and accordingly recommend that they should be dis- allowed. We have arrived at these recommendations on general grounds after inquiry, and these grounds seem to us to necessitate the disallowance of the bye- laws.

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