Page:Natural History, Mollusca.djvu/254

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rendezvous for the boats employed in the fishery. The banks, where it is carried on, extend several miles along the coast from Manaar southward off Arippo, Condatchy and Pomparipoo. The principal bank is opposite to Condatchy, and lies out at sea about twenty miles. After the survey of the state of the beds, and the consequent report to Government, the particular banks to be fished are put up for sale to the highest bidder, and are usually purchased by a black merchant. The Government, however, sometimes judges it more advantageous to fish the banks on its own account, and to dispose of the pearls to the merchants.

"The banks are divided into three or four different portions, which are fished annually in succession. These portions are distinct, and are set up separately to sale, each in the year in which it is to be fished. A sufficient interval is thus given to the oysters to attain their proper growth; and as the portion first used has generally recovered its maturity by the time the last portion has been fished, the fishery becomes almost regularly annual, and may thus be considered as yielding a yearly revenue. The oysters are supposed to attain their complete state of maturity in seven years.

"The fishing season commences in February, and ends about the beginning of April. The period allowed to the merchant to fish the banks is six weeks, or two months at the utmost; but there are several interruptions which prevent the fishing days from exceeding more than about thirty. If it happen to be a very bad season, and many stormy days intervene during the period allotted, the purchaser of the fishery is often allowed a few days more. …