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Wisconsin. State Conservation Committee (1915-27) / Biennial report of the State Conservation Commission of Wisconsin for the years 1915 and 1916

Kalmbach, Albert
Paper read at meeting held with commercial fishermen at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, February 16, 1916,   pp. 38-42 PDF (1.0 MB)

Page 41

                        BIENNIAL    REPORT                        41
  The state is going a long way to meet us and putting out the correct
idea, of serving our real needs just like mothering a family. Her repre-
sentatives are with us today in a true spirit of "getting together,"
aiming to make our future better. Suppose every commercial fisherman
would accept with his privilege of fishing some responsibility to place
back in the water something for what he has taken out, that would cost
him some sacrifice and effort, and if he made this sacrifice he would feel
some future interest in the waters and set forces to work to protect his
future interests.
  Our present method of grabbing what we can out of the water, because
everybody is doing it, is what has brought us to our present crisis. We
are now paying for that thoughtless way.
  We read a few years ago that down East were thousands of abandoned
farms, run out of business by their former owners, and left for taxes.
  Someone with brains comes along, puts an effort and sacrifice onto the
farm, regenerates the place, and it again becomes habitable and produc-
tive. So, with our waters, we have them run down to a point where it is
a struggle to exist, in fact, our continued existence in this business is
to compel us to do something sooner or later. We have the waters to
build up the industry, now, let us become cooperators using good business
judgment. I want to call your attention, in closing, to what has been done
in places where they have had the same troubles that now confront us.
  Lake Erie was rundown in fish stock. Boats could not pay expenses.
There were no white fish and herring were very scarce. They went to a
three-inch mesh net for small size and a four and one-half inch mesh for
white fish. Everybody was loyal in support of those sizes. Last spring
one boat on Lake Erie caught eleven thousand dollars of white fish in
two months. When the fall run of herring came on, eighty-five tugs from
seventy to ninety feet long each, fished out of Erie, Penn., and Dunkirk,
New York, with daily catches ranging from two to ten tons each, and re-
ceiving four cents per pound in the round, for this stock, and on Lake Erie
there are about 200 steam tugs. Some of them catch three hundred and
fifty tons of fish per annum. On Lake Michigan and Green Bay we have
about ninety steam tugs, in Michigan and Wisconsin. We have a very
large body of water and a great deal of fine grounds for fish culture, and
we could stock these waters to such an extent as to make us all rich.
  But, the size of the catches is by no means the whole story. Go into the
market at Chicago and see the prices Lake Erie fish bring. Compare their
prices to the prices that our stock brings. It would pay all of you to spend
some money to see these things for yourself, then you would know the
truth on this subject.
  We are men, and I believe in you, have known most all of you many
years. I want to see you all do better, and so I urge now and here that we
get better laws and become, ourselves, a part of those laws, realizing they
are for as. Let us make the catching, marketing and shipping of immature
fish an impossibility. We will then raise our profession in the eyes of all
the world. Each one of us become a conservation force, active and alive,
and no one will violate the spirit or rules of the game.

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