Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V17, Page 255 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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VIZ. 20 ft. As the season advances, the schools penetrate farther northwards into St George's Channel or eastwards into the English Channel. The fishery then assumes proportions which render it next in importance to the herring and cod fisheries. In Plymouth alone a fleet of some two hundred boats assembles ; and on the French side of the Channel no less capital and labour are invested in it, the vessels employed being, though less in number, larger in size than on the English side. The chief centre, however, of the fishery in the west of England is at Newlyn, near Penzance, where the small local sailing boats are outnumbered by hundreds of large boats, both sail and steam, which come chiefly from Lowestoft for the season. Simultaneously with the drift-net the deep-sea-seine and shore-seine are used, which towards June almost entirely supersede the drift-net. Towards the end of May the old fish become heavy with spawn and are in the highest condition for the table; and the latter half of June or beginning of July may be regarded as the time at which the greater part of mackerel spawn. Considerable numbers of mackerel are taken off Norfolk and Suffolk in May and June, and also in September and October. There can be no doubt that they enter the North Sea from the English Channel, and return by the same route, but others travel round the north of Scotland and appear in rather small numbers off the east coast of that country. On the Norwegian coast mackerel fishing does not begin before May, whilst on the English coasts large catches are frequently made in March. Large cargoes are annually imported in ice from Norway to the English market. After the spawning the schools break up into smaller companies which are much scattered, and offer for two or three months employment to the hand-line fishermen. They now begin to disappear from the coasts and return to the open sea. Single individuals or small companies are found, however, on the coast all the year round; they may have become detached from the main bodies, and be seeking for the larger schools which have long left on their return migration. Although, on the whole, the course and time of the annual migration of mackerel are marked with great regularity, their appearance and abundance at certain localities are subject to great variations. They may pass a spot at such a depth as to evade the nets, and reappear at the surface some days after farther eastwards; they may deviate from their direct line of migration, and even temporarily return westwards. In some years between 1852 and 1867 the old mackerel disappeared off Guernsey from the surface, and were accidentally discovered feeding at the bottom. Many were taken at to fathoms and deeper with the line, and all were of exceptionally large size, several measuring 18 in. and weighing nearly 3 lb; these are the largest mackerel on record. The mackerel most esteemed as food is the common species, and individuals from to to 12 in. in length are considered the best flavoured. In more southern latitudes, however, this species seems to deteriorate, specimens from the coast of Portugal, and from the Mediterranean and Black Sea, being stated to be dry and resembling in flavour the Spanish mackerel (S. colias), which is not esteemed for the table. (A. C. G.; J. T. C.)
End of Article: VIZ

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