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Report on the Oyster Fisheries

Excerpt from Report on the Oyster Fisheries: Potomac River Shad and Herring Fisheries, and the Water-Fowl of Maryland: To His Excellency the Governor and Other Commissioners of the State O. P. Force, January, 1872 The natural production of this vast field has been, and is still, so great that the labors of the fishermen are sufficiently remunerative for their comfortable support, and to enable the packers or dealers in Oysters to accumulate large fortunes without the necessity of resorting to cultivation. Like the fruits of tropical regions, we have only to wait for the seasons, nature has done everything - only the fruit is to be gathered. This bountiful offering of Nature has, of course, caused the employment of those means for taking the Oyster that will the most surely enable labor to realize the greatest profits, and hence we find upon our waters between six and seven hundred vessels, varying from five to sixty tons bur-then, equipped with improved machinery for taking the greatest quantity of Oysters from the beds in the least possible time, regardless of any consideration other than the immediate profits derived. These vessels are generally of superior models, are fast sailers, and manned by hardy, daring seamen, hut uneducated men, reckless of consequences, who live "from hand to mouth" in this trade, and cannot take into consideration the great fishing interest of the State, and work intelligently with a desire to preserve and build up the trade as a permanent means of support to themselves and of revenue to the State. It is more like a general scramble for something adrift, where the object of every one appears to be to get as much as he can before it is lost. Dredging has been going on with us for fifty odd years, commencing with a few small vessels with light dredges, and gradually increasing to this time to hundreds of large sea-going craft, manned by seven or eight men each, and heavily equipped, answering the demand for Oysters as it extended beyond our borders, and the art of "canning" enabled us to keep them in a state of preservation. The effect has been that a few persons - some packers or dealers - have accumulated large fortunes; the dredgers and other laborers have lived for the time, and only lived, whilst the Oyster beds of the State on which the dredgers are allowed to work, have, by over-working, been greatly reduced and brought to produce an inferior Oyster, so that in trade in this country the distinction between the dredged and tonged Oyster is well understood. About the Publisher Forgotten Books publishes hundreds of thousands of rare and classic books. Find more at This book is a reproduction of an important historical work. Forgotten Books uses state-of-the-art technology to digitally reconstruct the work, preserving the original format whilst repairing imperfections present in the aged copy. In rare cases, an imperfection in the original, such as a blemish or missing page, may be replicated in our edition. We do, however, repair the vast majority of imperfections successfully; any imperfections that remain are intentionally left to preserve the state of such historical works.
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