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Kincardinshire
Chapter 13. Fisheries


Britain being an island surrounded by shallow seas in which fish are plentiful, it is only natural that the fishing industry should be one of the most important sources of wealth as well as of food. Fishing is carried on vigorously on both the west and the east coast of Scotland, but the east coast fishing is of far greater magnitude and importance than the west coast. The North Sea is not only an excellent fishing ground, but it also has splendid ports where the catches can be disposed of to advantage. The following returns of the value of the fish caught on both coasts for 1912 bring out their relative importance :

East Coast—Total value of all fish landed £2,323,580
Orkney and Shetland— „ ,, ,, 775,209
West Coast— ,, ,, ,, 352,040
Grand Total .... £3,450,829

The value of shell-fish caught on the west coast, however, exceeds considerably that on the east coast.

The whole country is divided into districts by the Fishery Board for Scotland each district being in charge of an officer, whose duty it is to get and to give information on all matters connected with the industry. The Kincardineshire small ports or “creeks,” as they are called, are connected with the three districts of Aberdeen, Stonehaven, and Montrose. Downies, Port-lethen, and Cove are naturally linked on to Aberdeen ; Milton, Johnshaven, and Gourdon to Montrose. Stonehaven includes Cowie and Skateraw to the north, and Catterline and Shieldhill to the south.

The chief kind of fish landed on the Kincardineshire coast in 1912, arranged in order of market value, were herrings, codlings, haddocks, whitings, crabs, lobsters, which with less important varieties reached a total value of £21,329, almost one-eighth of this being the value of the shell-fish caught. The weight of all the fish landed (excluding shell-fish) was a little over 2000 tons. Between five and six hundred fishermen are engaged in the industry, while 235 boats or vessels of various sizes belong to Kincardineshire. .

Since 1902, when motor power was first introduced into the fishing industry, the progress and increase of motor boats, slow at first, has been very marked. In this innovation, the pioneers in the county were the fishermen of Gourdon and Johnshaven.

More than a century ago salmon fishing gave employment to 135 hands, and the rental of the fishings amounted to £2700 a year. At present the assessable rental of the three districts—Bervie, North Esk, and Dee—is £27,825, about one-sixth of the rentals of the forty Scottish districts having boards to regulate and protect salmon fishing. The number of salmon caught annually either in the sea by a “fixed engine”—the stake and bag nets—or by rod in the waters of the rivers of the county, cannot be determined ; but the weight of salmon carried by the railways in 1912 was 1990 tons, almost half of this quantity being caught in the area from Berwick to Cairnbulg Point in the northeast of Aberdeenshire. Of this a considerable proportion must have been contributed by the Kincardineshire salmon fishings.



 


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