Document Type

Report

Department/Program

Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date

1998

Abstract

The pound net (Fig 1) is a fixed fishing structure that intercepts fish as they migrate up- or down-river. Fish weirs made of stakes were first used by the Native Americans along the east coast of the English Colonies and were the model for the later development of the pound net. Pound nets were first used in New England around 1850; and were subsequently introduced to Long Island in 1855. A Captain Henry Fitzgerald is reported to have erected the first Chesapeake Bay pound net in 1858, but it failed due to its poor construction. No further attempts were made to use this gear until 1870. At this time two New Jersey fishermen successfully fished a pound net in the James River. A second net was erected in 1875 in the Mob jack Bay, and was so successful that the local fishermen destroyed it. The design of the net was passed around among the fishermen and by 1876 there were 12 nets. So great was the profit that by 1880 there were 162 nets in Virginia (Reid 1955, Austin 1987). The design of the gear has changed little over the years; and during the period between the World Wars the number of nets in the Chesapeake Bay exceeded 2,000. Since the mid-1950's the numbers have declined. June (1956) cited competition with the otter trawl after the mid-1950's as one reason for a general decline in pound nets in the Mid-Atlantic Bight states. (...)

Keywords

Fish populations -- Potomac River -- Measurement, Fisheries -- Potomac River

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