The New Student's Reference Work/Fish-Culture

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Fish-Culture. The importance of fishes as food has led to the formation of commissions by different governments for their care and spread. The culture and protection of certain kinds of fish was practiced as a private enterprise from 1750 onward, but the first public hatcheries were established in France in 1850. Soon after, in 1865, fish-hatching began in the United States, in New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts. The United States now gives greater attention to the culture, propagation and spread of fishes than any other nation. A United States fish-commission was created in 1871, with Spencer F. Baird as fish commissioner. Attention was very early given to the propagation of shad, and the number of those fish greatly increased. In 1880 the rivers of Georgia were stocked with shad, and in the course of four or five years they were caught there in abundance. In 1890 the catch of shad along the Atlantic coast was two and one half times as large as in 1880. The government pays for the support of the United States fish-commission about $150,000 annually; and, in addition, more than 30 of our states support state fish-commissions.

The work of preserving and increasing our food-fishes consists in keeping the waters free from contamination by mills, sewage and other causes; in establishing laws to control the methods and seasons of fishing, in the cultivation of proper food-elements; and in the hatching and distribution of the young fish. Fish-breeding is practiced in many fish-hatcheries. The eggs are sometimes collected from the spawning-grounds; at other times fishes are obtained in a ripe condition and the eggs are pressed out by running the thumb along the under surface of the abdomen. The milt is then pressed out from the male fish and spread over the eggs. Thus they are artificially fertilized, and it is found that by this method a much higher percentage of the eggs is fertilized and developed than in the natural spawning-grounds. The eggs are now protected and reared in boxes and jars provided with running water. In some cases the young are fed by finely divided liver or other suitable food. After they reach a certain size, the young fish are shipped, and distributed in lakes, rivers and ponds. The United States government and several of the state fish-commissions have special cars, fitted with tanks, for transporting fish. The supply of fishes has been greatly increased, and new kinds introduced into various sections of the country. Fishes have also been transported across the ocean; our trout have been carried to Japan and Great Britain, and we have received salmon and trout from Europe. Shad and striped bass have been carried from the eastern to the western districts, white-fish fry have been extensively planted in the great lakes, and the range of black and striped bass and other fish has been greatly extended. The extent of the work of distributing fish is great. Some of the states (Michigan, Wisconsin, New York, Pennsylvania) have distributed from 40,000,000 to 135,000,000 of fish in a single year. The term fish-culture and the work of the United States fish-commission have broadened to take in the protection and care of the seal-fisheries, of lobsters, oysters etc. See the various publications of the United States fish-commission.