The yield from the English trawleries alone is computed to be over 200,000 tons annually, and as the price for trawled fish at the Billingsgate market averages 12 pounds per ton, this represents about two and a half million pounds. And, in addition to these weighty figures, Professor Huxley’s words deserve to be well remembered, for, says he, “Were trawl fishing stopped, it would no longer be a case of high prices, but that ninety-nine out of a hundred would hardly be able to afford any at all—herrings and a few other fish caught in the old way excepted.” Indeed, it is chiefly by this method of beam trawling that London and the interior are supplied with brill, turbot, and soles; while by it thousands of tons of plaice, haddock, and other fish are brought within the reach even of the poorest.
DRIFT-NET AND OTHER DEEP-SEA FISHING.
Important though the beam-trawl may be, there is another mode of deep-sea fishing which deserves to be well known by us in Australia, and which undoubtedly must come into general use before we can make any pretensions with regard to our fisheries. I refer to that by means of drift-nets. As the trawl is absolutely necessary, on the one hand, for capturing fish which frequent the bottom, so, on the other, the drift-net is essential for those whose resort is the upper portion of the sea. It is by this method alone that fish like the herring, the mackerel, and the pilchard—which may be termed surface fish—are caught in great quantities for food supply.
Now, in Australia, we have vast shoals of migratory fish visiting the coast at different periods of the year. During the winter season enormous numbers of herrings come to these shores, and are permitted to depart without any effort being made to capture them. Attention has been repeatedly called to this strange neglect in our fisheries, for this herring is plentiful and is considered to surpass the famous Scottish herring itself in flavour. The mackerel, too, is to be met with annually, generally about midwinter, in immense shoals, passing near the coast upwards in a northerly direction. The sea mullet also makes its appearance towards the end of the summer months, usually from April to June, at the very time when it is in splendid condition and full of roe.