New Brunswick. Commission to Investigate the State of the Herring Fishery at Grand Manan.

Abstract: Reports of the Commissioners Appointed By The House To Procure Information Respecting The State Of The Herring Fishery At Grand Manan, 1836

In 1831 and 1834 legislation was passed regulating the kind of fishing that was to be allowed in the Grand Manan Herring Fishery. In 1836 the results of those statutes were under examination: should the herring fishery be dominated by the more traditional "torch-light" (also known as "torch" or "torch drive") fishing technique or the newer netting systems?

The question as to which technique was preferable hinged on one question: were herring a species with a specific and regular migratory pattern or were they an "irregular visitant." If they were the latter, there would be lessened concerns about taking more fish out of the ocean using netting systems, because there was no worry about interrupting spawning patterns.

The Commission made three principle findings and one principle recommendation, though it is quite clear that there was a significant amount of dissent in the testimony given by fishers of the area. It found that torch-light fishing should be discouraged as it proportionally takes more immature fish; the British herring fishery was very successful and almost exclusively used netting systems; and, most importantly, that "the Herring is, in truth, a most capricious fish, seldom remaining long in one place". The Commission's principle recommendation was to pass legislation to eliminate torch-light fishing and institute fines for net mesh of less than 1 3/4 inches, except for those nets designed to procure bait for the deep sea fishery.

Commissioners:Thomas Wyer
James Brown
JohnAllen
Thomas Barlow
Lauchlan Donaldson
John Ward

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Appendix to the Main Reportpdftxtincluded with Main Report
Minutes and Evidencepdftxtincluded with Main Report
Miscellaneous Documentspdftxtincluded with Main Report

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