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The Fishery Exhibition at Edinburgh

Nature volume 25, pages 530531 | Download Citation



IT has now been placed beyond doubt that this exhibition will prove successful, so far as a great show of interesting exhibits is concerned. Such exhibitions, of course, partake in some degree of the nature of a commercial adventure—the projectors being dependent on the gate money to pay the expenses incurred, which are naturally heavy—although the prize list has been largely contributed to by private individuals and public bodies. Such an exhibition being a novelty will no doubt attract, from day to day, a considerable body of spectators, although it is deprived of many attractive features by reason of the place of exhibition not being fixed on the immediate sea-coast. It would have proved interesting, could the spectators have been shown the beam trawl at work, or have had displayed before them a suite of herring nets, or other items of the machinery of fish capture. Such apparatus will be largely displayed in the place of exhibition, but their effects cannot so well be judged as when they are seen in action. Upwards of seventy prizes are offered for “exhibits” and “essays” ; the latter, indeed, seem to be a chief feature of the exhibition, and if they can be utilised for behoof of the public and the fisher people, some good may result. But, although a large number of prizes were given for essays at the Norwich Fishery Exhibition of last year, the public have not been made any the wiser in consequence. A very handsome surplus resulted from the Norwich exhibition—nearly a thousand pounds it is said. Why, then, has not a portion of that sum been devoted to the dissemination of the knowledge contained in the prize essays? As regards the “exhibits,” they can always be seen and understood by those who please to look at them, and if there are half a dozen of the same sort, they can be compared one with the other, and the decisions of the judges can be criticised, so that persons in search of new boats or other fishing gear, can give their orders for the same in the direction they think most suitable. But with respect to the essays the knowledge contained in these productions—judging from what took place at Norwich—will remain buried in the brains of the committee! Of what possible use is it to bestow a prize on the writer of an essay, “On the Fish Supplies of Great Cities, with special reference to the best Methods of Catching and Packing,” if the knowledge thus obtained is never to become public? The prize list of the Edinburgh Exhibition is rich in material for the essayist, many subjects of interest in the fishery world being selected for illustration, such as the salmon disease, oyster culture, the migrations and spawning of sea fish, the utilisation of fish offal, the best methods of preserving fish alive for markets, the pollution of rivers, the natural history of the herring, and twenty other subjects. In view of the still larger international fishery exhibition, which will take place in London next year, it is time this question of “what ought to be done with the prize essays,” should be ventilated and settled. Up till this moment it remains a blot on the Norwich exhibition that none of the prize essays sent there have been made public. So far as we know, only one of the essays has become accessible; that is the essay, on the salmon disease, by Sir James Gibson Maitland, which, however, was printed at the baronet's own expense. The exhibition at Edinburgh will be very much on the lines of those which took place some years ago at the Hague and Arcachon, except that the most attractive feature of the latter exhibition will be wanting in the well-arranged aquarium. Neither in Edinburgh nor in London can we hope to compete with the great fishery show of Berlin, which was undoubtedly very complete, the American national exhibits being of much interest. At home we have no fishery collection of a national, kind, if we except Buckland's Museum of Economic Fish Culture; and, so far, we are at a disadvantage with the United States, which possesses a very complete collection of fishery apparatus of all kinds. It is to be hoped, in the circumstances, that America will do for this country what it did for Germany, give us an opportunity of seeing and judging for ourselves how far they are ahead of us in fishery economy. We shall doubtless be able, when the exhibition opens, to find some points of interest worthy of being alluded to in a future number of NATURE.

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