Succulent Dinners that Swim the Sea
Agnes Deans Cameron
Saturday Evening Post
THE Pacific salmon-pack year by year adds to the world’s wealth a sum greater than the combined output of all the gold mines in the Yukon. The canneries of the Culumbia alone paid out sixty million dollars in workers’ wages during the last quarter of a century and sent a hundred million dollars’ worth of canned salmon to the waiting breakfast tables of the world. Last year Alaska put up over two and a quarter millions of cases of canned salmon.
For three long Summer months, in clustering millions, flashing in the moonlight, scintillating in the sun, from unknown depths and haunts uncharted right up to the cannery doors the salnion swim, and all but deliver themselves into the expectant tins of the fish-packer.
On the west coast of America swim five species of anadromous or seagoing salmon: Quinnat, Sockeye, Cohoe, Humpback and Dog. The largest and individually the most important salmon, is rich in names ; he is known as the Chinook of the Columbia, the Spring on the Fraser and the King salmon in Alaska, the Indians call him the Tyee (Big Chief), and the Russians the Schaviche.
The Quinnat runs to fifty and eighty and even ninety pounds, and its rich, red and tender flesh gives it the sterling mark in that conservative English market which long ago declared that all salmon should be served red whether Nature agreed or not. The Quinnat has a wide range ; it runs from the Sacramento mouth north to Behring Sea, and turning south on the Asiatic side moves downward to Northern China, affecting by preference the large rivers with snowfed or glacial tributaries.
It is a beautiful fish of clear, bright, silver hue, and a most determined traveler. It has been proved without shadow of cavil that in the Yukon
at spawning season the Quinnat ascends to Caribou Crossing on Lake Bennet, full twenty two hundred miles.
The Quinnat is the largest, but if gross value and quantity be considered, the Sockeye salmon easily takes first place. He is in the sea what the Douglas fir is on the land to all this great Northwest country. He, too, has a multiplicity of names ; on the Columbia he is the Blueback, in Alaska the Red salmon, while the Fraser fishermen have dubbed him the Sockeye, a familiar corruption of the Siwash saw-que. The Sockeye is easily the neatest and most symmetrical of the salmon, and it is a little difficult for the landsman to appreciate how plentiful it is in season.
In Alaska the seines for taking the Sockeye are paid out and drawn in by steam power. Five thousand fish is the minimum haul—it wouldn’t pay to operate the machinery for a less number ; twenty thousand fish at a draft is a daily occurrence ; and, by actual count, in the year 1896, sixty thousand fish were used from one haul and forty thousand were released because the canneries were glutted, making one hundred thousand fish at one taking of the net.
One hundred thousand fish at an average usable weight of five pounds each cans into five hundred thousand pounds. This one take would put a half-pound tin of prime Sockeye salmon into the full dinner-pail of every man, woman and child in a city of a million population.
The Sockeye is a gayly-colored fish, the youthful bright blue of its back andside with a touch of silver on the belly changing at the time of its river-ascent into a vivid crimson bodycoloring, with a head of olive-green.
The Cohoe-—or Silver—salmon is a big fish second in size only to the Quinnat, but its pale flesh discounts it somewhat in the regular market ;
when canned it describes itself as "medium red salmon.”
The Humpback and the Dog salmon are the humble brothers of the race. The Humpback almost unknown in the Sacramento, Columbia and Fraser, is most abundant in Alaska. Extremely fecund, it swims in millions, breeding near the sea in brooks, swamps and brackish estuaries. Although the cheaper fish are making their way more and more into the world's market, while the Sockeye, the Cohoe and the Quinnat swim, we do not like to consider the Humpback as a white man’s fish. It is sent to the negroes of the South, and the Chinese and Japanese buy it; during the season fresh Humpback sell in the open market at a cent apiece with no takers.
The Dog salmon also is almost without honor in his own country, where he is known as the Chum and the Calico salmon—the Russians, call him Hayko, and he is Sake to the Japs. But canned by any name, candor sees in him a mushy individual with a strong taste of mud; salted he is accepted by Japan and, frozen, by Germany, but the Dog salmon is not good enough for America.
In respect to their food-values the five Pacific salmon may be represented by the first five digits : Quinnat, 5 ; Sockeye, 4 ; Cohoe, 3 ; Humpback, 2 ; and Dog salmon, 1.
The Summer-swarming salmon in masses choking the river-estuaries of the Pacific are muscular, rigid, fat, firm of flesh, in the very pink of condition, each fish a little craft of itself. just so many pounds of succulent food furnished with propulsive machinery.
As the revolving seasons roll, out of the ocean in uncounted myriads they come, each salmon urged forward by a creation-old instinct to seek the upper reaches of its native river, there to deposit the spawn and milt of the new generations. The time and the place of its coming are known ; man merely spreads his net receptacles and the salmon catches itself.
At the river-mouths devices ingenious and many are spread out to
gather in these swimming dinners : weirs and fish-traps, fish-wheels, miles and miles of gill-nets, thousands of pound-nets and bottom-trawling seines. The yearly levy of the canneries exceeds three hundred million pounds; wonder is if that any one salmon runs this grim gauntlet and escapes the cordon.
A packer canning one hundred thousand cases of salmon uses over a million fish. Forty million fish are packed every year on the Fraser and Puget Sound and in Alaska, and half of these are females intent on depositing their spawn. A conservative estimate gives thirty-five hundred eggs to each female, so we find man with his glistening, rapid, noisy machinery in the Pacific canneries destroying the unthinkable number of seventy billion eggs that female salmon came up from ocean-depths to deposit on the far inland river bars.
Nature is a stern old mother; if she is to continue to supply so richly the luxurious tables and the humble lunch baskets with these incomparable dinners, then man must supplement her losses ; the yearly tale of seventy billion wasted eggs must be offset by just so many artificially hatched baby salmon, thus the great uncompromising pendulum of cause and effect will swing even.
Destiny rather than man’s wisdom has declared that some fish shall pass through the river mouth unscathed on their spawning journey toward head waters. The danger for these is not yet over. The thrifty settler on the river bank tosses out of the stream his year ’s supply of fish ; he uses a pitchfork and throws the shining salmon out like so many forkfuls of hay or grain.
The Indian, too, takes his tale. All up the length of the river, at vantage points where rock-ledge just over swirl, yon see the half-clad Siwash with scoop net and spear toiling hour by hour (for this with him is the day’s work, not sport). The fish are thrown to waiting squaw and children. Improvised smoke houses kipper the fish, sun and pine bark smoke combining to give just the desired flavor.
This long line of drying fish in the boiling gorges of Columbia and Fraser is a vermilion dab on the landscape to the train-tourist rushing down the canons to the sea; to the Siwashes it is Heaven-sent manna. In the long Winter nights over the watch-fires they will eat the salmon by the struggling light of a fishy brother, the ollakan or candle-fish, which, dried and stuck in a lump of clay, burns like any taper. The grizzly and the black bear, too, scoop up juicy salmon from the silver river beaches.
Urged onward by Heaven-implanted instinct, past danger of pitchfork and paw of bear and scoop net, some salmon safely swim. These take no interest in things by the wayside. On and on they go, breasting currents and jumping rapids, the miles count up to hundreds, the hundreds become thousands, and still the salmon swim on, their ultimate goal the gravelly bottoms of the shallow reaches of head water kept ever in view.
As they come from the sea the sexes of the salmon are practically indistinguishable. Entering fresh water a great structural change takes place. Over those weirs and seines and gill nets at the river mouth might well have been written : “Who enters here leaves hope behind.” No individual of either sex of any Pacific salmon ever returns to the ocean after spawning.^
Up to this time the salmon has lived to eat; from this on to the time of his death no food is taken into his body; he feeds upon his tissues, his whole organism changes.
Approaching the spawning beds the gastric mucosa is in a more or less desquamated condition, the digestive organs shrunk to one-tenth their normal size, the stomach is no bigger than a walnut, all fat disappears, the jaws of the male salmon become hooked and prolonged, and ungainly canine teeth appear; even if there were a desire for food those developed beaks of the male would effectually preclude feeding.
Slab-sided, sorry-looking fish they are ; the female becomes a dusky olive,
the skin of the male turns red; immediately before spawning the roe of the female amounts to one-quarter of the whole body-weight. Spawning completed, both male and female die. The salmon affords the world’s most striking example of the sacrifice of the individual to the general good, the only good that Nature seems to recognize—the perpetuation of the species.
The Blueback or Sockeye ascends the Culumbia even to the Redfish Lakes in the heart of the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho, more than a thousand miles from salt water; we have seen that in Alaska they go twice this distance, and in the Fraser the very head waters are reached.
At the “redds” or spawning beds there is • a definite pairing off ; gorgeously brilliant are the colors the salmon have assumed in honor of the nuptial season. By tail and anal and ventral fins a shallow nest is scooped out of the gravel, both fish assisting in the work, and on this bed the eggs are laid.
After the female has extruded a few eggs she swims away, and the male, taking her exact position, extrudes over these a small quantity of milt. Every five minutes, day and night, for a fortnight this process is repeated. The fight for a salmon’s life begins before its birth. The deposited eggs are non-adhesive and separate and thousands of them become luscious tidbits for fish and birds and reptiles. Here the swan ' leads her cygnets one mother bird devouring a gallon of ova a day; soft-footed otters steal out by night and eat their fill ; loons, hungry hordes of ducks and stilt-legged herons feed on the eggs.
To beat off the marauders is the work of the male salmon. Enemies of his own kind also assail him, and here, exactly as in seal life, the mating male must fight with the supernumerary males. “Dare, never grudge the throe,” in his motto : do not those little red globules hold potential salmon ?
The .running water rolls away the eggs, but the shabbv-looking parents
are grim fighters ; they scrape up sand and retaining pebbles ; neither day nor night does their guarding vigilance slacken. In an ecstasy of militant devotion fins are slit and torn, the lashing tail is worn to a mere stub.
But with the dawn of a new life the end of the old is near. Fungus grows on those tired bodies, eyes become blinded and gills destroyed, parasites attack the filaments and “worms destroy this flesh.” Great is the grip of heredity; succeeding generations of immolation and self-devotion have eradicated all desire on the part of the salmon to return to salt water. He spawns once and in the consummation of this act dies.
His poor, emaciated body floats off, and none so poor to do it reverence. We hate to tell it, but ghoulish pigs devour the spent salmon by thousands, and tons of them are yearly used to enrich the soil. Thus with repeated regularity does the sea pay its lordly toll to the land. Small wonder the Northwest farmer becomes rich when from the wilderness of the sea for two thousand miles lumps of phosphorescent fertilizer swim up and literally jump on his fields to die!
Eight days after being spawned the embryo fish begins to get his little backbone—in the strenuous life that stretches before him he will need it. Next day his eyes bud off from his brain ; it isn’t till the twelfth day that he gets his alimentary canal—eating is neither the first nor the last aim of a salmon’s existence. At two weeks, from the alimentary canal, the liver buds off, and the first indications are given that this Sockeye of ours is to have a heart. In another week, on the under side of his head the mouth begins to show up as a V-shaped slot. From this on till the end of the seventh week no noticeable change takes place.
About the fiftieth day a little tail pops out of the ovum and the baby attains to the name of an alevin, a fishlike body attached to a yolk. The little chap is altogether transparent; for six weeks he grows without hunger, and is entirely self-sustaining, Judaslike carrying the bag. Our lit-
tle alevin, like a young Chinaman, takes a new name with every gradation of his growth. His teeth and fins are now well developed, he is a couple of inches long, and with the entire absorption of the yolk-sac he turns into a fry and seriously takes up the white man’s burden of earning has own living.
Out from his sheltered cradle he swims, snapping at minute crustaceans, nibbling a caddis-fly and valiantly attempting a mosquito; it is the graduation from the kindergarten, and here begins the lifelong fight bequeathed by his parents. Every salmon is born an orphan, each is a selfmade fish. Not one has the benefit of the sage advice of a mother, but some prenatal instinct when he is yet but two inches long reads for him the Law of the Road: “Gobble the Little Ones and Run from the Big Ones.”
So, snapping at food, he drops down stream with the current foot by foot toward the sea. Experience teaches him that keeping his head up stream will expedite matters ; breathing in that position lets the water in at the mouth and out again at the gills; it brings, too, food to that insatiable little stomach.
So he early learns one life-lesson. Years from now, whether gill net catches him or spoon of the trawler, whether his last gasp is in a landing net destroyed by Jock Scott or Silver Doctor, one thing is sure: he will die with his head up. In the daytime the game little fellow hugs the pools, migrating chiefly by night ; the waterousel dives after him and the kingfisher teaches him to swim deep and lie low. The true Ishmaelite of the Ishmaelites, everything bigger than he which moves is an enemy ; true, he did have a thousand blood-brothers of the same vintage, but in salmondom brotherhood counts little and cousinship nothing.
How fast does he travel ? And how long does it take him to reach salt water? Perhaps he covers ten miles in each twenty-four hours ; if he was hatched at the head waters of one of the long rivers his seaward journey
may take him six months, maybe a year.
His first contact with salt water is exhilarating, the brackish waters of the estuary makes his gills tingle— with joy he comes to his own. He is now three or four inches long, and with his advent into the sea is known as a parr.
In the sea a new set of enemies has to be studied and taken account of. Here are fish ducks and crueleyed cormorants, and a whole host of saft water fish the very color of the kelp they hide among. A wound is fatal, for no deformed fish is allowed to swim ; every bigger fish is to such the kind of surgeon that ends his misery—as there are no floating orphan asylums so there are no fish hospitals.
Little is known of the ocean life of salmon or seal or whale. The fish culturists at the hatcheries, by attaching silver disks to liberated salmon and by identification fin marks, have arrived at the conclusion that four years is the average sea life of a salmon ; that at the end of that period he seeks his native stream to breed.
In those four years he does nothing but dodge enemies and eat, eat, eat, getting silvery and plump and strong for the long lasting of the river ascent or for the slicing knives and labeled tins of the canner. In the sea, sickness and sharks, sea lions and seals, all levy their toll of mortality, but on the whole the salmon’s chances of life are greater in the open sea than elsewhere. He is strongest here, and, moreover, Heaven has gifted him with great speed—he who fights and runs away may live to fight another day.
But when it comes to pitting himself against the cunning and commercial cupidity of man our salmon has a sorry chance. Some pass the barriers safely, skitter their tails and exclaim with Job, “I have escaped with the skin of my teeth.” But where one lays his tired bones by the side of his forefathers and mothers on the breedingbeds thousands and tens of thousands of his blood brothers, fat and fit, are cut down in their prime, find a tinny sepulchre in the Golgotha of the canning sheds, occupy for a period re-
served seats on the top shelves of corner groceries, to finally lay their bones by the side of restaurant plates.
Many are the methods of capture. It was the gill netters we saw setting out from the mouth of the Fraser. Two men and three hundred yards of gill netting go to each boat, A gill net is simply an immense sheet of web twenty or thirty feet deep and a quarter of a mile long, kept upright in the water by weights below and corks above.
The river-seeking salmon swimming against the tide thrust their heads through the meshes and obligingly catch themselves by the gills. At the slack of the tide the fishermen draw in their nets, row or sail back to the cannery and are credited with the tally of their catch. The gill netters were in the beginning the main supplies of the cannery ; the deadly fish traps and swift gasoline launches are rapidly relegating them to second place.
Seining, the most picturesque of all the ways of salmon-taking, can be practiced only where there are shelving shores. Great seines are thrown across likely bays and river reaches in the road of the ascending salmon; when the harvest has collected, horses attached to the net ropes plunge into the stream and draw out the seines of struggling fish. A cordon of weatherbeaten fishermen, each with one bare foot on the lead-line, stands waist deep in the running water and lifts high the edge of the brimming nets, while others grab the squirming fish and toss them into boats which with all speed hurry the catch to the canneries. It is cold, wet work. The seine fishermen earn every dollar the season brings them.
The fish-wheels of the Columbia look like the ordinary water-wheels of the Rhone ; turned by the current they are most effective, scooping up the fish on the revolving paddles, lifting them aloft and sliding them down slanting troughs to boat or bank at the rate of four to six tons of salmon per wheel per day.
Of all methods of taking the salmon the trap is the most deadly. In the Brit-
ish Columbia waters traps were, until two seasons ago, prohibited, and their general use is not now permitted by the Dominion Government, in whose hands the supreme jurisdiction rests over all Canadian waters. Only in a restricted stretch of coast from Victoria west along the shore of Vancouver Island are Canadian staked trap nets licensed ; sixteen of these were in operation in 1905, and twenty-six locations were licensed last year. The Columbia mouth is where one sees them in unrestricted numbers. In a single locality, Baker’s Bay, near historic Astoria, can be counted over fifteen hundred of these traps. Enormous catches during big runs are made in these deadly contrivances. In 1905 the Pacific American Fisheries Company in one of its traps in Puget Sound is said to have taken at one haul three hundred and forty thousand salmon.
A salmon trap is an elaborate affair, costing all the way from five thousand dollars to twenty thousand dollars to construct. A trap consists of a lead or wall of net fixed to massive piles running out from shore four or five hundred fathoms, and placed in the known route of the salmon. When the shining army of fish moving on, a solid mass imbued with singleness of purpose, finds itself confronted by this barrier it swerves aside, and here a narrow door or slit in the wall invites an entry. Once through this opening a cleverly-constructed maze leads on the crowding salmon toward the terminal inclosure or heart. A coneshaped tunnel leads from the heart into the pot or final trap, so that the fish passing through this horizontal funnel have no means of returning.
Alongside the pot is a further quadrilateral inclosure, the spiller, into which the fish are admitted when the pot becomes crowded. In a big run the pot has been known to become so packed with living salmon that the sheer weight of the uppermost fish crushed and killed those in the bottom of the net.
Some catches in Puget Sound have been so enormous that the bottom could not be raised, the brader net
usually lifted by a winch could not be moved and the pot with its weight of captive salmon had to be cut out and towed to the cannery.
Professor David Starr Jordan, the eminent fish authority of California, under date of February 15, 1907, says : “I think the trap in all its forms ought to be swept out of Puget Sound, and for that matter from everywhere else.”
Would you enjoy an experience stimulating and exciting? Then get up at daybreak some August morning and board a tug at Victoria Harbor for one of the Todd traps and see the early spill.
At the trap the captured fish are lifted from the chamber and spilled into scows in the steamer’s tow, salmon by the thousand—saucy, shining Sockeye, fat and kicking. The occasion calls “Haste !”—minutes are money; the object of every scientific cannery-man is to get the fish from the sea to the tins with the very least possible loss of time.
The scene shifts to the cannery wharfes, long, black, wooden affairs, centipede-like, stepping out on stilts into the water and emitting in the Summer heat a smell compounded of salt and seaweed and salmon. Every inch of space as we step up gingerly to the cannery door is slippery with salmon—salmon under foot and in the waiting scows above us, around us, and in the air—in the air more insistently than anywhere else. Until to-day we never knew the sea held so many fish.
At the cannery, amid a vociferous clangor of Japanese, Chinese, English and choicest Chinook, the big fish are tossed from the scows and slapped on the cannery floor, each one as it lands sliding off on its own account. The whole awakened hive is humming— a salmon-cannery in the height of the season is the busiest place on this earth. Every wheel in that network of most modern machinery is clicking, each man and woman stands at appointed station, and with the slippery thud of that first fish on the cannery floor the day’s work begins.
The whole stretch of that cannery floor is soon piled deep with salmon
—the workmen in rubber boots stepping from wharf-edge to cleaning bench are thigh-deep in the struggling mass.
A modern cannery is a marvel of mechanical ingenuity. Time-saving devices are installed at every turn, and men and machinery work at lightning rapidity ; the whole rapid process of canning is cleanliness itself, the human hard scarcely touching the fish from trap net to tin.
The marvelously ingenious machinery and the human interest part of the drama both compel us. The romance of the human factor is giving way to the romance of ingenious and fascinating machinery. The Pacific canner is a man of means and ready initiative ; no cost is spared if a new piece of machinery promises to save time for him. The slow things go first, so the Siwash will pretty soon find himself as a factor entirely eliminated from the canning equation, for the Pacific Siwash is the slowest thing on earth with the one possible exception of the Pacific squaw. Messenger boys and Canadian savings bank clerks are swift to these.
Mr. E. A. Smith, of Seattle, two years ago, with one invention, revolutionized the whole process of salmon-canning. His first cleaning machine was at once dubbed by canners “The Iron Chink,” and the name sticks. This wizard machine cleans thirty thousand fish in a run of ten hours, doing the work for which fifty-one expert Chinese operators used to be paid. The Iron Chink cleaned so many thousands of fish, increased packs so many thousands of cases and saved so many thousands of dollars that all prejudices against innovations were early swept away, and its use in the modern cannery will soon be universal. The machine takes the fish just as they come from the sea and puts them through the entire cleaning operation, handing them to the filler to pack into the tins. Prior to 1906 the cutting off of head and tail were separate operations requiring two men, one with a band saw to take off the head and the other with a rotary knife to cut off the tail. This is all
done now by the Iron Chink automatically; exit the header and curtailer, exeunt also that long line of silent squaws. This intelligent machine adjusts itself to the size of each fish introduced to it.
The inventor of the machine never entered a salmon-packing plant himself till he took in the model of his completed invention ; it was by a close and scientific study of the structural anatomy of the salmon that he worked out the details of his invention.
The machine handles forty-five fish a minute. In the pockets of its revolving drum the denuded fish are carried round to rapidly-moving circular knives which divide them into fillets to fit the can. A ticker on the cutting machine automatically counts the salmon.
Then, either by squaws or by the long fingers of the articial squaw that fascinated us when we first stepped into this hotbed of haste, the red, luscious cuts are packed tightly into the cans. Then a plunge into the washing vat.
The cans, at a rate of a hundred and twenty a minute, are now fed to a machine, which at lightning speed affixes a top to each. In great iron crates the tins are steamed for half an hour, and vented to allow all air to escape. Hermetically sealed they go to the steam retorts, and, for an hour and a quarter, are subjected to a temperature of 240 degrees Fahrenheit and a pressure of fifteen pounds to the square inch.
By this process every essential oily juice of the salmon, every natural savor and flavor is conserved. The filled cans roll themselves into brightcolored labels and are packed away in cases of spruce—spruce still redolent of the impenetrable woods out of whose margins space has been nibbled for the greedy, noisy, amphibious creature that we call a salmon cannery.
Canned while he is almost alive and kicking, a salmon can be served spiced and tempting in a cut-glass bowl at a London club just three weeks from the time he gave his first illadvised wiggle into the Straits of
Fuca fish trap. With the fresh fish better time even than this is made. Last Summer, thanks to years of wise hatchery regulations and conscientious enforcement of game laws, California enjoyed a largely increased fish trade. Fresh salmon were shipped in refrigerator cars from Monterey Bay to New York on express trains; there transferred into the refrigerating department of ocean liners, and landed in Europe and sold as fresh salmon within two weeks.
The canned salmon of the Pacific Coast has a present aggregate value of over twelve million dollars a year. Not only is it the cleanest and most nutritious of all canned foods, but it will keep for an unlimited period and in any clime. Eight years ago an official report was made to the Inspector-General of the United States Army upon the quality of the rations issued to the troops mobilized at Chickamauga on account of the Spanish-American War, and of two hundred and forty thousand cans of salmon critically inspected two only were found spoiled.
The San Francisco fire destroyed three hundred thousand cases of Red Alaska salmon, practically all the spot stock held on the coast. This brings Red Alaska into a clean market. It’s an ill wind that blows nobody good. Every handler of this brand of salmon on account of the San Francisco disaster increased his fish business perhaps fifty or one hundred per cent.
Official reports and market quotations rarely mention the “mild cure” or “sharp frozen” fish, yet it is a branch of the salmon industry of rapidly-increasing importance. The Federal reports state that as far back as 1904 the markets took from the three Pacific States 15,799,646 pounds of mild-cured and fresh-frozen salmon, with a total valuation of over a million and a half. It is the mildcure industry which fixes the price of raw fish on the Pacific Coast.
The Pacific Coast exhibits the anomaly of international jurisdiction over what Nature intended to be one fishing industry. The salmon hatch-
ed in the head-waters of the Fraser, returning as adult fish in the Summer, runs, before they reach their parent stream, come within the sphere of action of the Oregon and Washington fishermen, and up to the present it has been impossible for Canada and the United States to agree to mutuallyobserved protective measures. Alaska fishermen largely take advantage of a law enacted by the last session of Congress, which encourages private salmon-hatching by allowing rebates from the canners’ licenses in proportion to the number of salmon they turn loose.
In Alaska lives one of the broadestminded men on the Pacific Coast; he usurps the function of a government, and for the benefit of the world at large, at his own cost, maintains a salmon-hatchery. This philanthropist, John C. Callbreath, away back in 1892 fertilized a million salmon eggs, arranging with the Indians for the right to Jadjeska stream, a half-mile rivulet, the outlet of a little lake about fortytwo feet above tidewater, and here for fifteen years he has continued to bring forth millions of baby salmon to take the place of their canned parents.
This hatchery is a private enterprise, unconnected with any cannery or fishery and is supported wholly by its public-spirited and enterprising owner. Perhaps for communities, states, and even nations, there is an object lesson here.
Potentially, salmon is more than an asset to the wealth of the Northwest Coast. Prime salmon is a product with the highest possible food value. Pound for pound in brain, blood, bone and muscle-making elements, it is one and one-third times as valuable as sirloin steak, one and two-thirds times as valuable as fresh eggs, twice as valuable as bread.
Under present economic conditions the working hordes of Continental Europe for the most part must go meatless. As the grazing lands of the world steadily come under cultivation, beef will become more of a luxury. The world’s population, too, is increasing at a rapid rate. What’s to take the place of beef ? We must
farm the sea, and to farm these pastures we need seed. Factories, farms, mines, smelters, pollute the head waters of rivers, and in time these waters refuse to nurture baby salmon. What happened centuries ago on the Thames has already happened to the Sacramento, and what has happened to the Sacramento will happen to the Fraser. Art must supplement Nature.
It is easy to hatch ninety per cent, of salmon eggs in a hatchery, whereas Humphry Davy estimated that not six per cent, of the eggs deposited on the “redds,” or natural hatchery places, come to perfection, and Stoddard holds that only four or five fish
fit for the table is the result of thirty 'thousand ova on the spawning beds.
If these rich sea harvests of salmon are to continue to be reaped concerted action must be taken by all concerned to replenish the sea with seed—th^it is, with artifically-hatched fry. If this is done, and proper conditions as to close seasons enforced, the possibilities of the salmon industry of the Pacific Coast are stupendous. The cannery man, without fear of mixing his metaphors, may exclaim, “The world’s my oyster !” The supply will be practically limitless, and the demand will not be lacking— that is a matter of education only.