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Thames salmon appear by the diary to have fetched high prices, two salmon of 21 lbs. and 18 lbs. caught on the 11th May, 1795, fetching £9 15s. and one caught in 1808 selling for £7 48., at the rate of 8s. a lb. The extinction of salmon in the Thames was not, as is usually supposed, primarily due to the pollution of the lower river by sewage. There was no serious pollution at the period when Lovegrove kept his diary. Ships took in their fresh water in the Pool long after that date and within living memory, and the serious pollution did not begin much before 1850-1860. The real factor that kept salmon out of the Thames was the erection of the pound locks. That took place between 1800 and 1823. Under the Thames Navigation Acts, 1788, 1795, and 1812, extensive alterations were made in the river. The old system of winding barges up shoots and rapids with a winch, which of course did not obstruct the passage of the fish, was discontinued, and locks were built in their places, or new cuts were made in the river, and solid weirs erected over which the fish could not pass except in flood times. Lovegrove's diary shows that the falling off in the number of fish commenced in 1805, the take falling from sixty-two fish in 1804 to seven in 1805, and the numbers diminished more or less down to 1821. In 1823 the last salmon ever caught in the Thames was taken near Monkey Island, and sent to the King at Windsor. These dates are coincident with the canalisation of the river. Mr. Walpole, the late Inspector of Fisheries, states that the falling off of the takes of salmon in other rivers was due in his opinion to the erection of the pound locks. It would seem, therefore, that the constant legislation for the protection of salmon was fairly effectual for their preservation till the pound locks began to be erected, and the weirs necessary for their working were built so as to stop the ascent of the fish. These obstructions have been attacked under the Salmon Acts from 1861 downwards with some success,
but a further enemy has come into the water, viz., pollution from manufacturies and by sewage from the great towns, which have grown up near salmon rivers. This enemy the legislature seems unable to successfully repel. The returns of the capture of salmon since 1861 will be found in the reports of the Inspector of Fisheries.
In the review of the entire legislation as to fisheries in Chapter I. of Part II. the numerous Acts relating to the Herring Fishery have not been dealt with, as none of them are now in force. The Acts relating to Whale and Seal Fisheries are included in the list of statutes, but their provisions have not been set out, being considered as being outside the scope of this work. The provisions as to Sea Fisheries and Fisheries for Oysters, Crabs, Lobsters, &c., will be found set out in Chapters II.—VI. of Part II., and the Acts relating to them will be found in the Appendix.
Having regard to the increasing value and importance of rights of fishery, not so much in respect of the profits to be derived from them, as from their importance as adjuncts of amenity to riparian properties, the existence of which adds largely to their market value, owners of fisheries will be well advised to be careful of their rights. They should be careful as to the manner in which they let their fisheries or give licence to fish in them, and as to the terms of the instruments by which this is done. In particular it is advisable that they should exercise these rights regularly, so as to keep up evidence of their possession, and be careful to resist attempts to trespass thereon. It is the experience of the Authors that in almost every case there is considerable difficulty in procuring any body of evidence of recent user, and this is frequently the greatest difficulty of the case. The proof of possession and the exercise of their rights is in fact their true title to them, and is of far more importance in the case of a dispute than the existence or language of their documents of title.
Since freshwater fish, and especially coarse fish, became of little value except for purposes of sport, in consequence of the improved means of communication and the system of preserving fish in ice, owners of inland fisheries have been careless about their rights and have willingly suffered anglers to take their sport when angling as a sport was practised by few, and angling clubs were unknown. Thus they have permitted unauthorised trespasses, not deeming it worth their while to take expensive steps by action at law to prevent them. This long-continued neglect of this species of property has caused doubts to be cast upon their titles and leads to great difficulty when the time arrives that the owner finds it necessary to assert his rights. The exposition of the law relating
to fisheries in this work will, it is hoped, be of assistance to owners of fisheries as a guide to them in asserting their rights and preserving their property.
The Authors' thanks are due to many friends for assistance in collecting materials for this work, and especially to Mr. ScargillBird and Mr. Overend of the Public Record Office; also to Mr. R. E. Kirk, Mr. E. F. Kirk, Mr. Boyd, Mr. W. Moens, Mr. A. Heintz, Mr. Watson, and Mr. N. Clifford-Jones, who have supplied them with many references to records which would otherwise have escaped their researches.
6, KING'S BENCH WALK,
STUART A. MOORE.
VI. STATUTORY PROVISIONS RELATING TO SHELL FISH.