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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/94

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

With regard to salt or brackish water crops, we have already a good deal of knowledge, and with some animals and for certain localities quite thoroughly organized systems of cropping have been established; for instance, the sponge farms in Florida and oyster farming in some of the Atlantic states. The latter, however, are by no means so fully regulated as to secure the best results, as is shown by the exhaustive discussion of the subject by Professor Brooks. His estimate that the product from Chesapeake Bay of $2,000,000 annually, could and should be increased to $60,000,000, has, I believe, never been challenged, and indicates the possibilities. There are other marine forms like lobster, crab, shrimp and turtles which would lend themselves to similar definite systems of cultivation, and in fact a study of the basis for such systems has been in progress in the Bureau of Fisheries for many years past. It is necessary, however, that the results be carried into definite regulations or embodied in appropriate legislation in order to secure perpetuity in the crops and the most profitable returns.

In many instances, in both salt and fresh water areas, there will need to be entirely new legislative enactments providing for the regulations of water areas in which certain more or less sedentary animals may be cultivated. For such as migrate freely in the open waters there is perhaps no better policy than to permit capture by any individual under such restrictions as to season and quantity as may serve to protect the future supply. If animals have a fixed habitat and are capable of artificial propagation or culture, there is no logical reason why a person who plants and cares for such a crop should not be protected in the right to harvest it. Under existing laws, however, there is great difficulty in securing such rights, as all waters which have any connection with navigable streams or lakes are assumed to be public property. It would be entirely practicable, however, to guard the rights of property in the bottoms or shores without interfering in their public use for navigation, pleasure or even for fishing for such forms as are migratory. These are questions, however, which can be worked out when once the advantages of systematic cropping of water areas is fully recognized.

Aside from measures which utilize existing areas of swamp it appears to me that great advancement may be made in the combination of certain land and water crops, for instance, in a tract of marshy land having practically a constant level it would seem possible to alternate strips of land and water by the use of suitable dredging appliances, the land portion being utilized for the cultivation of such intensive crops as celery, asparagus, onions, strawberries, blackberries, etc., the fertility being maintained by adding dredged materials from the bottom of adjacent water strips. The water strips could then be utilized in the culture of such aquatic forms as fish, frogs, clams, turtles, ducks, etc.,