Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 45.djvu/75

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ECONOMIC USES OF NON-EDIBLE FISH.

non-edible fish supply probably exceeds that of those fishes which are used for food.

About twenty years ago a beginning was made in utilizing non-edible fish; but, from one cause or other—prohibitive State legislation, want of knowledge as to the best ways of obtaining fish products, and various other less important impediments—the industry is still far from that position of commercial and industrial importance to which it is justly entitled. But, notwithstanding the impediments to which I have referred, and although the operations of the factories engaged in the utilization of nonedible fishes are confined to the production of oil and guano from menhaden, in the year when Prof. Goode made the estimate above quoted over eight hundred thousand dollars' worth of crude and dried guano was produced, and 2,426,589 gallons of oil were obtained.

Bearing these figures in mind, and remembering that Prof. Baird estimated that "twelve hundred million millions" of menhaden are destroyed annually by bluefish—during four months in the summer and fall—and that this destruction is imperceptible in the myriads of these fishes which abound on the coast, it is apparent that, under favorable conditions, the value of menhaden to the commerce of the country could easily be developed to an extent that would at least equal the combined values of all our food fisheries.

It would be extremely difficult to fix the time when fish was first employed for fertilizing. We are assured, however, that long before the advent of Europeans on this continent, the Indians used menhaden for raising agricultural produce. The early colonists imitated the natives; and in 1632 Thomas Morton, of Virginia, wrote: "There is a fish (by some called shadds, by some allizes) that at the spring of the yeare pass up the river to spawn in the ponds, and are taken in such multitudes. . . that the inhabitants doung their ground with them." Eleven years previous to Morton's record Governor Bradford tells how "in April, 1621," the colonists began to sow corn, "in which service Squanto (an Indian) stood them in good stead, showing them both ye manner how to set it and after how to dress & tend it. Also he tould them axcepte they got fish & set with it (in these old grounds) it would come to nothing; and he showed them yt in ye midle of Aprill they should have store enough come up ye brooke by which they begane to build, and taught them how to take it."

Still later, and just one hundred years ago, in the Transactions of the Society for the Promotion of Agriculture, Arts, and Manufactures, instituted in the State of New York, Hon. Ezra L'Hommedieu says: "Experiments made by using the fish called menhaden, or mossbunkers, as a manure have succeeded beyond