Siberian Rivers Glutted with Fish: Enormous Supply of Salmon Never Fails-Careful Taking the Chief Reason, Daily Racing Form, 1919-02-01


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. .SIBERIAN RIVERS-GLUTTED WITH FISH Enormous Supply of Salmon Never Fails Careful Taking tho Chief Reason. If natural conditions are favorable and if there is no interference by man with the process of reproduction, fish, and esccpially salmon, tend to increase until the rivers into which they run can hardly hold them. Some years ago I niade a journey of 000 miles on horseback through the psninsula of Kamchatka on the eastern coast of Asia. As I rode northward from Petropavlovsk to the head of the Okhotsk Sea in August and September, I crossed perhaps a hundred rivers or brooks running either into that sea or into the Pacific Ocean. To say that these streams were full of salmon would be an under-statement. They were literally gorged and choked with them. Tens of thousands were coming in with every tide and struggling up-stream to their spawning places. They were so plentiful that you could not only take from 100 to 200 at every haul of a seine, but iu the smaller streams you could wade into the shallow water and throw them out with your hands; twelve or fifteen pound fish might be seen struggling up brooks that you could step across where the water was hardly deep enough to float them. Dogs caught them in their mouths I have seen them do it and even the clumsy bear managed to secure one when he was hungry or when he was tired of blueberries and wanted a change of diet. In September we sometimes rode an hour or two after it began to grow dark before we could find a brook whose water was not so contaminated by the dead and decaying bodies of salmon as to be unfit for use. Everywhere the natives were catching them by. thousands iu seines for winter use. NORTHERN SIBERIAS PLENTY. All the people of northeastern Siberia practically live all the year round on fresh or dried salmon, and not only that, but they feed thousands of sledge dogs on them. Has the supply ever failed V Never within the memory of man. For more than a century the people have leen taking hundreds of tons of salmon outlet those Siberian rivers every year, and yet the stock remains undiminished. I remember one little stream in Kamchatka which for more than 100 years has been producing salmon enough to feed a dozen villages of from 200 to "00 people each, to say nothing of some 3,000 sledge dogs which live on dried fish the year round. Why does this river continue to produce salmon at such a rate for a whole century? Is it because the Pacific Ocean contained originally more than the. Atlantic, so that there were more to run into the Pacific coast rivers? History docs not so state. Two centuries ago there were just as many in the rivers of Nova Scotia and New England. The Merrimac River of Massachusetts and New Hampshire was so filled with them that -"the salmon nearest the banks were crowded out on the dry land." In the Connecticut River there were so many that, as Peters quaintly says in his History of Connecticut, "no finite being could number them." As late as 1783 the people of Connecticut derived half their supply of food from this source, and hired labor-ers, working under contract, stipulated that they should not be compelled to eat salmon more than so inany days .a week. ASIATIC .FISHING WITHOUT WASTE. If. therefore, we now have only a few salmon, while the northern Asiatics have an abundance, it is not because there were more in the Pacific than in the Atlantic. It is because civilized man has never allowed ii sufficient number to reach their breeding grounds, while uncivilized man has always given them free access to their spawning plnccs and has thus kept up the stock. In both New England and Nova , Scotia rivers were obstructed by dams, weirs arid standing nets and the water was polluted by sawdust and the waste products of manufactories. In Siberia there were none of these things to prevent the fish from getting to their spawning places- The Siberian natives never used standing nets, either in the streams or along the coasts. They caught all they wanted by hauling seines in the rivers while the salmon were coming in, and during a part of every day and the whole of every night the fish were allowed to pass unchecked and unhindered. Standing nets, wherever placed,- work all the time, while seines or rods and lines are in use only a . part of the time and leave, the rivers and the coastal waters unobstructed and undisturbed during one-half at least of every day. By wasteful methods of fishing and by catching as many as- possible regardless of the annual rate of increase, we have reduced the number of our salmon until in many of our streams there are none at all; -while even in the Margarec there are not one-quarter as many as there ought to be. What have we done and what are we doing to remedy this state of things? Geo. Kennan In Sports Afield.- :

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