Report on Population and Resources of Alaska at the Eleventh Census, 1890. United States. Census Office, Government Printing Office, 1893. Google ebook
page 223: The following is quoted from the "Report on the fisheries of the Pacific Coast of the United States, by J. W. Collins'' [for 1888], pages 99-105:
"There have always been a greater or less number of New England fishermen employed in the Pacific cod fishery since it became a recognized industry. In the early days, when the fishery was most luerative and important, it was not uncommon for whole crews of trained fishermen to sail for California on schooners purchased at New England ports for the trade. These men were peculiarly fitted to wield an important influence on the industry, for they carried to the Pacific a skill gained by years of experience in the Atlantic fisheries and hardihood and daring unexcelled. But the business has attracted men of various nationalities, particularly Europeans, and Americans are now, and for several years have been, in a decided minority. Thus, in 1888, out of a erew list of 188, only 30 were Americans, 147 were Scandinavians, 8 were born under the British flag, and 3 were Portuguese There appears to have been even a greater diversity in 1889. Of 35 fishermen selected at random Alexander states 9 were Americans, 12 Scandinavians, 6 Portuguese, 4 Russian-Finns, 2 Germans, and 2 Irish.
The system of remuneration differs considerably from that generally adopted on the Atlantic coast, resembling the latter only to the extent that, with few exceptions, the amount earned by each fisherman depends upon the quantity of fish taken by him. Some of the men who have special duties receive a monthly stipend and are sometimes paid, in addition, whatever they can earn by fishing. The captain of a cod-fishing vessel going to Okhotsk sea usually receives a stated sum (as agreed upon between him and the owner) per 1,000 fish landed, or he may be hired by the month. The mates, of whom there are generally 3 on the larger vessels, fish in dories the same as the regular fishermen, and are paid a certain amount per 1,000 for their individual catch, the amount being graded according to their respective official positions, and being considerably more than is paid to the crew. Sometimes they are paid a certain amount per month and the same rate for the fish as the ordinary fishermen get. The fishermen proper, those who hold no official position and devote themselves exclusively to catching fish while on the banks, receive from $20 to $25 per 1,000 cod for all fish which measure 28 inches in length from tip of snout to end of tail. Cod 26 inches long and upward, but less than 28 inches, count 2 for 1; those less than 26 inches are not counted. Each man's catch is counted and credited to him as he comes on board, and several trips may be made each day if fish are plenty, since those who go in the dories have nothing to do with dressing or salting. On each of the largo vessels are 8 men, comprising two gangs, whose special duty is to dress and salt the catch. These include 2 splitters, 2 throaters, 2 headers or gutters, and 2 salters. These men remain on the vessel and receive monthly wages, ranging from $15 to $50, or more, the amount paid depending upon the skill and responsibility of the individual. They also have the privilege of fishing over the vessel's rail when not engaged in other duties. They are paid the same rates for their catch as the regular fishermen, and occasionally add considerably to their earnings. Each vessel has a "watchman ", who is paid monthly wages, and, like the dressing gang, receives additional pay for fish caught over the vessel's side. On passages his duties are those of a common sailor; but on the fishing banks no anchor watch is kept by other members of the erew, who sleep at stated hours (that can hardly be called night in high northern latitndes), while the watchman remains alone on deck and keeps the lookout. He thus often has exceptional opportunities for fishing, and two instances are cited when watchmen were "high line'', having caught more fish than anyone else on board.
The vessel furnishes all boats, fishing gear, bait (if any is carried), and provisions free of any expense to the crew. Clothing, tobacco, or other supplies are advanced from the outfitting stores before sailing, or furnished from the " slop chest" during the voyage, the price of these being deducted from the earnings of each man at the final settlement. The lay of the Alaskan stations differs slightly from that above deseribed. The fishermen are paid from $25 to $30 per 1,000 for all their fish, but with the understanding that they must dress and salt all their catch. The system of measuring and counting differs only in the size of the fish from that in vogue on the vessels; the fish are salted in the warehouses. It has been given in evidence before the Senate Committee on relations with Canada that $27.50 is the price paid by the McCollam Fishing and Trading Company, with the understanding that "counts" should be no less than 26 inches in length; those from 24 to 26 inches to be counted 2 for 1, and all less than 24 inches long to be thrown away. Each station is under the control of an agent of the company that operates it, and his relations to the men are the same as those of the captain of a vessel. He superintends their work, keeps the record of their catch, and furnishes them with such supplies as they may need from the company's store. The fishermen live in comfortable quarters on shore and are provided by the company with everything required for fishing, except gear (including trawl lines), which is paid for at a price fixed upon when the men ship for the season. This rule has been adopted to insure greater care for the gear on the part of the fishermen, but it has not been found necessary on vessels fishing at the Okhotsk sea and Bering sea, where hand lines only are employed.
On the vessels fishing in Alaskan waters, according to Tanner--the captain is paid a stated sum per month, and has no share in the cargo. The mate receives a monthly salary and also a certain sum for every 1,000 fish canght. Each of the crew receives $25 per 1,000 fish; splitters, $50 per month; salters, $40 per month; cooks, $60 per month. On the return from a trip the crew has nothing more to do with the vessel taking no part in the discharging of the cargo, which is done entirely at the expense of the owners. The cod livers are never saved, and a profitable portion of the fish is thereby thrown away. I have been told that a system similar to the above has at times been adopted on vessels going to the Okhotsk sea. Mention has been made of the fact, an important one so far as the welfare of the men is concerned, that vessels fishing off the coast of Alaska can refit at the shore stations when necessary. Those fishing at the Okhotsk are not so favorably situated; the fishing grounds are 10 to 40 miles from land, usually off the mouths of small rivers or creeks that empty into barred and inaccessible harbors; the vessels must ride out gales or sail away to sea; wood and water are generally procurable, and occasionally some poor beef or a boar may be obtained, but other provisions or supplies are not available on that bleak and barren coast.
Hand lines are exclusively used in the Okhotsk and Bering seas, and the system of ''dory fishing'' is also in vogue. This method is precisely similar to the dory hand-line fishing for cod on the banks of the western Atlantic. A large number of small dories are carried by each vessel, and a single fisherman goes in each boat. Standing in the center of the dory (which is only about 13 feet long on the bottom and a little over l5' feet on top), he throws out a line on each side, and the fish taken are put into the ends of the craft until she is loaded, when they are taken to the vessel and pitched on deck for dressing. The time occupied in loading a dory varies, according to the abundance of fish, from a few hours to a whole day. Sometimes only scattering cod can be taken, not enough to half fill a boat, though this is comparatively rare on Pacific fishing grounds.
It has been found impracticable to set trawls in Bering sea. The schooner Constitution tried to use them in 1887, and the attempt was repeated by the Arago in 1888; but no satisfactory results were obtained, because of the great abundance of sea fleas (amphipod erustaceans) on the bottom. These active scavengers not only swarmed upon the bait but they injured or devoured the cod before the trawls could be hauled. The hand lines used are similar to those employed in dory hand-line fishing on the Atlantic, but rigged with less care and neatness. Captain Tanner says: The fishing leads are made by the crews of the vessels, and therefore do not compare in finish with those of New England. The lines are not tarred, and soon show signs of wear. Patent swivels are apparently unknown; none of the crew of the Arago had ever seen or used tbem; but after the method of working them and their advantages had been explained, the fishermen expressed their intention of giving them a trial next year. The dories correspond in shape and size with those used upon the eastern coast, the only perceptible difference being that the stem, timbers, and planking are a trifle heavier. They are manufactured in San Francisco by Lynde & Hough. Galvanized iron rowlocks are used instead of thole pins. Shore cod fishing is wholly carried on in dories, this method bringing the best returns for the money invested. It would be impracticable to use vessels in this fishery, as the cod feed and school so close to the harbors and coast that dories can make several trips daily to the fishing grounds. This method is successfully followed throughout the year, and in 1889 gave employment to 33 men. The winter catch is salted in kench <a deep bin in which fish are salted>, in the warehouses and held there until spring, when the freighter arrives to carry the fish to market. Both trawls and hand lines are used, the former more extensively. The trawls are like those used in the Atlantic cod fishery.
The natives at Unalaska have the ordinary type of steel hook for cod fishing, though they still prefer the wooden hooks make by themselves for halibut fishing. Crude and primitive as these hooks are, I am assured by competent authority that they are very effective in catching halibut. Any available material serves the natives as a line for cod fishing; it maybe only pieces of old cord knotted together, or a piece of sail or salmon twine, but sometimes cod line is used. Small iron bolts, spikes, or pieces of lead are preferred for sinkers, but stones also serve for this purpose."