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the islands, to send these fish proportion is cod. Old fishermen in a fresh state to the market say that they do not catch more is not so profitable as it is to cure than half the quantity per boat them. of Barra and off Lewis that was fished thirty years ago. are the greatest fishing - grounds. The causes assigned for this doWith the Barra men it is an old croase are the scarcity of herrings, industry. The present generation which they say the fish follow, and in Coll and Tyree say that their that Barra men intercept the fish. parents used to speak of the Barra They used to fish and cure them men who came to these islands at Ross of Mull, Uig, Skye, and annually to fish. The Barra men Harris, but it was stopped. They used to fish in the Minch. Now have begun again two years ago at they fish away to the west and Harris, but the result has been dissouth-west of Barra. They say couraging. Old Harris men say that the fish do not frequent the that there is a great falling off in Minch as before. On the first number and size of the fish caught ground fished by them to the west. compared with former times. This ward they say the fish have become branch of ishing has succeeded scarce, and they have had to pro- better at Barra than anywhere else, ceed still farther west.
but even they have their bad who fish off Tyree and Coll men- seasons. It is discouraging that tion this same peculiarity occurring the fish seem inclined to frequent there—that on the banks near the more distant grounds, and the shore, where they formerly fished, yield per boat is smaller as the very few fish are now caught. number of boats prosecuting it They have to go farther out; it increases. This fishing requires seems as if the fish retreated be- no extra communication. fore the fishermen. Another fea- “Lobsters.-Generally speaking, ture which I think indicates that it may be said that this fishing there is a limit to the number of began thirty-one years ago. The fish, is, that as the number of boats native fishermen were taught by increases, the number of fish caught some crews of Irishmen who then by each boat decreases. I was told went north. The communication long ago about two crews of east afforded by the steamer then put coast men who fished at Canna on by the Great West of Scotland every spring, and in the meantime Fishery Company gave facilities two or three boats began to fish for carrying the fish to the market. from the north end of Coll, on the All the ground on which these fish south of the same bank on which are found, and which is not too the Canna boats fished. The result much exposed for the fisherman's was that the boats from Canna creels or traps to remain where were unsuccessful. The boats that placed, has been fished, and, in fact, fished from Coll were affected in almost cleaned of these fish. There the same way when the Tyree men is not one dozen caught for every began to fish to the west of them. ten dozon that were caught between The Eriskay fishermen catch nearly twenty and thirty years ago. The all their fish on the west side. The fish are now very small, requiring bulk of the fish caught off Barra is generally two fish to count as one ling, a small proportion is cod and -all fish less than four and a half tusk.
inches. long in the solid part of the “ The same is said of Tyree and body being reckoned a half. On Coll. . On the west of Skye, about the exposed west of the Hebrides, Glendale and Waternish, the greater in summer weather, when creels can be set without fear of their numbers ; the Barra men say that being swept away, great num- they have become very scarce. bers of good - sized lobsters are There is a bank of very limited caught. But as in summer the extent off Glendale where turbot risk of death in transit is great is caught. They are said to be less and prices rule low, it would be numerous than formerly. Salmonmuch better that these grounds fishing by bag-net has been tried were left undisturbed as breeding at the entrance to both Lochmadplaces. This fishing cannot be in- dy and Loch Boisdale, and in both creased ; it has been prosecuted to cases has been a complete failure. the
verge of extinction. It does not Haddocks and whitings are infresuffer for want of communication. quent, and in small numbers. I
“Conger-eels.—These fish, for- believe that off the Lewis, north merly considered as pests, are now of Stornoway, haddocks abound. the most numerous and profitable There is a lot of coarse fish, such fish sent fresh to market. The as saithe and skate, at times, which fishermen now devote much atten- is of no market value. tion to the capture of them. It is “Examined by the light of expesaid that they are diminishing in rience, the phrase, “The great unnumbers. Their distribution seems developed fisheries of the Hebrito be pretty general.
des' seems to be an empty cuckoo. “Halibut are caught in limited cry.”
When our physical or mental “ fair rent”; he robbed them of health is impaired we take counsel, that which they can never recover, not with our casual acquaintance, and of which coming years will but with those who have made a teach them the value. life-study of symptoms such as Meantime a Commission has ours; the pity is that, in dealing been diligently engaged in the rewith our economic diseases, we vision of rents, and it is believed follow an exactly opposite course, that, up to the time of writing, and try the nostrum of him among the reductions average about 40 our friends who has the loudest per cent, or some 4 per cent less voice, quite irrespective of any than the fall in the price of Highconsideration of his knowledge of land stock which occurred substthe case. It is said, with what quent to 1884. It is said that the truth we know not, that the en- crofter was “rack-rented,” and no tire complication called the “Crof. doubt if his rent was fair in 1883, ter question ” had its origin, de- it required reduction in 1885. velopment, and pretended solution That it was not reduced in proin the intelligence of one states- portion to the value of his stock man, and he not the “dove” of affords a presumption that the forhis cage : the sources of his infor
mer rent was something more than mation are as well known as the “fair.” Those who have read the nature of the stories which he preceding pages will smile at the swallowed, and the people blessed idea that persons whose scale of him ; what their feeling towards expenditure has reached the limit him may be ten years hence we there indicated can be restored to will not venture to predict. He solvency by a reduction of their gave them “fixity of tenure ” and rents from £4 to £3, or even to
£2. There may be a little more partial and apparently migratory waste, a little less energy in labour; in the Vinch-at any rate, they but to suppose that such measures are readily " fished out”; hadas those which the Legislature has docks mere occasional and sanctioned can produce any ap- sporadic visitors ; turbot are nopreciable effect in averting the where obtained in any quantity ; coming'disaster, is mere folly. and lastly, the herring, furnishing
A stage, in short, had been the great staple industry of the reached when ordinary humanity people, is liable, if we may trust demanded that the population the scientific opinion above quoted, should be reduced within the pos- to extinction. sibility of maintenance, and when Railways and harbours are prothose who were selected, or who posed, the former, to carry a chose, to remain, should have been traffic which does not exist, or to rearranged in accordance with the develop one where there ara not views of persons able to judge of the conditions of development: the situation; but the opportunity the latter, to accommodate the was lost, and we must make the hypothetical fishing - fleets of perbest of what is, at best, a mess. sons who, if they had their way,
We have, then, to offer induce would never again shoot not ments to the population to remove. hoist sail. One result would most We have to entice the crofter to certainly ensue : while construcextend the area of his holding; tion was in progress, wages would we have to teach him soine sort of be obtainable, and the people system in his farming; and some would not only be induced to think we should try to make a remain at home, but. would inpart of the surplus population crease at the rate which has adopt the fishing business as their already produced disastrous oversole industry. All before us is crowding. When the money was difficult, but the last is perhaps all expended, and the works were the greatest difficulty of all, for complete, it would be found that we have to deal with a population the pressure on the means of subwho are
"agriculturists and herds- sistence, so far from being diminmen" by race instinct—not fisher- ished, was actually increased, men at all. Here, then, is the that where ten mouths were beproblem which must either before, there were now eleven; that faced now or in a more abstruse where expenditure had been curform in the future.
tailed through poverty, the forThe crofter, as we have shown, mer scale of living had been reis sometimes averse to the exten- sumed. sion of his holding. In those cases Lest
suppose that where he desires additional area, we speak without knowledge on he can rarely show his ability to the subject of local fisheries, it stock it. The squatter is unable, may be well to give some particufrom want of capital, to occupy lars on which others may form a such a holding as Government judgment. Twenty years ago would alone be justified in provid- the lobster - box contained but ing for him. The local fisheries, three dozen, sometimes less; now, where they exist, are of great the same box often contains eight ly exaggerated importance : 6.9., dozen, sometimes more; and while lobsters are no longer as plentiful those who think that the wholeas formerly, and are of diminished sale capture of immature fish can size and value; cod and ling are be pursued indefinitely are wel.
come to their opinion, it is one reply, “Quorum pars magna fui," in which we cannot concur, for we while the proofs shall be placed are aware of miles of rocky coast at the service of any courteous which have been so completely inquirer. exhausted as to require years for That there is fish in abundance recovery.
outside the Long Island is neither Some few years ago—not many denied nor even doubted; but this --two east-coast boats established is a storiny sea, demanding the themselves at the island of Canna most powerful boats and the most and thence fished the South Minch perfect appliances. Probably the with such success that two other great western bank will never be boats joined them the following adequately fished till it is attacked season, making their headquaters by steam line-boats, setting many at the island of Coll; the result miles of lines and equipped on a was the entire collapse of the ad- scale hitherto unknown in the venture, and the retirement of all Highlands. From whence is the four. A certain island proprietor capital to come? Last generation employs two fishermen during witnessed the decay of Ullapool, the summer, and six years ago Shieldag, Stein, and other villages they suddenly began to capture founded by a wealthy and entergood shots of fine haddocks; local prising fishing company; only the boats assembled, and for three or other day a similar company passed four weeks there was a successful away from atrophy. Is there bere fishing, but as suddenly as they any encouragement to the investor? came the fish disappeared. The old and are there native fishermen folks say that no haddocks had competent to the work? We canbeen there for forty years before, not tell; but at least it is certain and there have been nono since. that Grimsby men are to be found
A similar incident was as fol- every season fishing under the eyes lows: An east-country boat, pro- of the natives on this very ground, secuting the great-line fishing from and that, no farther back ihan last the mouth of Loch Moidart, cap- winter, a Scotch boat from the east tured large numbers of haddocks coast made a handsome profit by when fishing inshore for bait; so fishing from West Loch Tarbert, promising was the prospect that Harris. an arrangement was concluded Let the reader who has gone whereby the proprietor engaged with us thus far cast his eye back to afford facilities for smoke-cur- on the quotation with which we being, and the crew accordingly re- gan, and judge for himself whether turned the following year with recent legislation has or has not the necessary appliances. Not a proceeded on a mistaken theory. haddock could they find.
Few will now be found to deny It has been said that a very pro- that the presence of subdividers ductive turbot-bank exists off the and squatters was the main cause north - west point of Skye; but, of those lamentable and lawless within the last few weeks, the bank outbreaks with which we are was tested by a steam - trawler familiar ; our fear that similar under local pilotage, with the re- scenes may recur is shared, as we sult that, except some haddocks regret to learn, by some whose ofand a few soles, there was nothing ficial position lends weight to their worth the cost of carriage to a dis- opinion. A clamour for more land tant market. These facts may be is easily raised "to order," and is doubted, and the writer can only not the less dangerous becauss
those who order it are ludicrously indeed doubt whether the destitute of the most elementary British Isles contain any class so knowledge of the questions in cautiously circumspect in business
: volved. One such person
matters ; but the very element in heard , to promise his audience his character which tends to make their «
land at half a crown an him a keen dealer places him at acre,” while the average rental the mercy of any scoundrel who of the property of which he spoke can persuade him that he is misis rather under $d. an acre, -of the led or has been unjustly treated. crofter's land, under 7d.! Probably When he is offered a loan on easy this orator's conception of the cap- terms and a good farm elsewhere, ital-or its equivalent, the labour the proposal seems to him so pal
- required to reclaim. moorland pably one-sided that his suspicions was equally " fogsy,” and he may are aroused, and he readily lends be interested if we attempt to clear an ear to those who tell him that his horizon.
the otier is only made to “get rid ” The other day we had an oppor- of him. It is doubtful whether any tunity of half an hour's quiet con- argument, however cogent any versation with the son of a crofter demonstration, however plain in the parish pf Lochs. The lad would fully convince him that none saiďthe family—i.e. his father, him- desire his prosperity and happiness self, and three brothers-had re- more earnestly than those who claimed nearly eight acres of moss- make the generous offer, - that land, and he described their
none care less for his future than excellent; “but,” he added, "the those who would have him remain lahour was immense and extended where he is, subject to the adverse over five years : if we had spent conditions which we have endeav. as much time on a farm in Canada, oured to depict, but, on the other we often think we should have hand, open to their manipulation been rich.” They had in fact, whenever his discontent can be taking their labour at only eigh- made politically useful. teenpence a day and their year Some little daylight seems lately at six months, so as to allow for to have forced its way through the six months' fishing, expended £292, darkness ; letters have been re10s. (more than £36 an acre) in ceived, in hundreds, describing the reclaiming that which, when re: Government Colonisation Scheme claimed, did not feed and clothe as honest, and the islesman has them for more than six months, begun to ask himself whether his if so much! These four lads and sometime leader really cares their father in the Canadian north much as he pretends for the com. west would have owned absolutely fort of the people ?— whether his 800 acres of fine arable land, with, ends would not perhaps be better a right of pre emption (now, alas ! served if they remained at home about to cease) over 800 acres more; in poverty and progressive degra. the reader may imagine what their dation? The ray perchance pre ; energy, ---they were plainly ener: cedes a dawn when objects, ' now getic, --- would have accomplished obscure, shall be clearly' discerned in five full years on such a holding by all who have eyes to see when as that.
that time arrives, we recommend It is a pure delusion that the the agitator, as American crofter needs, or ever needed, dry cousins say, to "git." nursing in making a bargain,