Marine and Coastal Law: Cases and Materials

By Dennis W. Nixon | Go to book overview

Chapter 7
STATE REGULATION OF
FISHERIES AND INDIAN
FISHING RIGHTS

Manchester v. Massachusetts, 139 U.S. 240 (1890)

By an act of the legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, approved May 6, 1886 (Laws of 1886, c. 192), entitled "An act for the protection of the fisheries in Buzzard's Bay", it was enacted as follows:

SECTION 1. No person shall draw, set, stretch or use any drag net, set net, or gill net, purse or sweep seine of any kind for taking fish anywhere in the waters of Buzzard's Bay within the jurisdiction of this Commonwealth, nor in any harbor, cove, or bight of said bay except as hereinafter provided.

. . . Under that statute, a complaint in writing under oath was made on behalf of the Commonwealth, before a trial justice in and for the county of Barnstable, in Massachusetts, that Arthur Manchester, at Falmouth, in the county of Barnstable, on the 19th day of July, in the year 1889, did then and there draw, set, stretch, and use a purse seine for the taking of fish in the waters of Buzzard's Bay, within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth. Under a warrant issued on this complaint, Manchester was, on the 1st of August, 1889, brought before the trial justice, and pleaded not guilty. The justice found him guilty, on a hearing of the case, and imposed upon him a fine of $100, to the use of the Commonwealth, and costs, and ordered that, if the fine and costs should not be paid, he should be committed to jail, there to be kept until he should pay them, or be otherwise discharged by due course of law.

. . . The defendant did not dispute any of the testimony offered by the Commonwealth, but introduced evidence tending to show that he was engaged in fishing for menhaden only, and that he caught no other fish excepting menhaden; that menhaden is not a food fish and is only valuable for the purpose of bait and of manufacture into fish oil; and that the taking of said menhaden by seining does not tend in any way to decrease the quantity and variety of food fishes. The defendant offered evidence further tending to show that he was in the employ of the firm of Charles Cook and others, who were engaged in the State of Rhode Island in the business of seining menhaden to be sold for bait and to be manufactured into fish oil and fish manure. The defendant further offered testimony tending to show that it was impossible to discern objects across from one headland to the other at the mouth of Buzzard's Bay. The defendant's evidence showed that the said steamer was of Newport, Rhode Island, duly enrolled and licensed at that port, under the laws of the United States, for carrying on the menhaden

-175-

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