Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 59.djvu/552

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

THE FRENCH SARDINE INDUSTRY.
By Dr. HUGH M. SMITH,

U. S. COMMISSION OF FISH AND FISHERIES.

AMONG the foreign fishery industries on which Americans are dependent for a part of their food supply, few exceed in interest or importance the sardine industry of France. The value of the French sardines imported into the United States is about one million dollars annually, and the wholesome, palatable and convenient canned sardine is consumed in nearly every community. The accompanying notes on the sardine and the industries to which it gives rise are extracted from an article in the 'Bulletin' of the United States Fish Commission for 1901, based on the writer's personal observations in Brittany, the principal center of the sardine fishery.

The sardine is the leading fishery product taken in the waters of France. From official statistics it appears that in 1898 the sardine fishery gave employment to 31,871 fishermen; the number of boats used was 8,164, valued at 5,934,633 francs; the apparatus employed was worth 7,030,945 francs; the quantity of sardines taken was 53,924,275 kilograms (or 118,633,400 pounds); and the selling price of the fresh fish was 9,204,988 francs (or about $1,840,997).

There exists considerable uncertainty among the fishing interests and the general public in America and Europe regarding the sardine of the Bay of Biscay and the Mediterranean Sea. Some persons have believed that the sardine canned in France is a distinct species, while others have held that the French sardine, like the sardine of New England, is simply the young of some herring-like fish. The term sardine is a general one, applied to various clupeoid fishes, mostly of small size, in different parts of the world, and can not be restricted to any particular fish. Thus, there are the Spanish sardine of the West Indies and Florida; the California sardine, found along the entire west coast of the United States; the Chile sardine; the oil sardine of India; and the sardines of Japan and New Zealand. But the sardine par excellence is the French sardine, called also celeren, celan, royan, galice and cradeau on various parts of the French coast. The name sardine has reference to the island of Sardinia, in the Mediterranean, about whose shores the fish is abundant.

As early as 1553, Pierre Belon, a French naturalist, asserted that the sardine is the young of the pilchard; and this is the view now held