This section is from the book "The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation", by George Abbey. Also available from Amazon: The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation.
Fishing like sporting, was no doubt first had recourse to as a food-supplying diversion, the exercise of brain and muscle being mind-invigorating as well as the catch body-sustaining. The angler, anxious to secure trout or salmon, loses no opportunity of trawling for pike, while the fisherman spares not the water and land vertebrates that prejudice the success of his nets, well-baited hooks, and traps. There are two sides to the fishing culture, viz. the food product, and the militating against that produce by depredatious creatures of water and of land. The water-ponds and lakes, brooks and rivers, extend over 2,974,739 acres of the United Kingdom area, and are all more or less replete with finny denizens providing diversion to leisured persons; affording relaxation and exercise of skill, patience, and effort to individuals engaged in industrial pursuits, with relatively little spare time, and no little amusement, with some profit of mind and body to the rising generation.
The fisheries, or rather the fish in the water, interfere with no land culture, but certain members of the ground and winged land or semi-land vertebrates make inroad on the fish, against which it is necessary to take repressive measures as, in this connexion, vermin. And, as in sporting, there are qualified and unqualified fishers. The right to fish and fishing was originally vested in the crown, and the privilege to fish up to the time of Henry II was by royal franchise. But, by Magna Charta, the crown was deprived of the right of conferring such franchises in future, although it continued all such as had not been conferred subsequently to the date mentioned. When a person's land adjoins a stream where there is no ebb and flow, that person is assumed to have an exclusive right to fish in the stream as far as his land extends, and up to the middle of the stream. When a person's property adjoins both banks of a stream, that person is of course assumed to have the exclusive right of fishing in the whole breadth of the stream. So also when a person's land encloses a pond, the fish in that pond belong to him.
When several properties are contiguous to the same lake, the right of fishing in that lake is vested in the proprietors, and the public have no right to fish in such lake even when it is bordered at some part by a public road. The right to fish, therefore, is vested in the landed proprietors with reference to the waters which are enclosed in, which run through, or are contiguous to their lands.
The fisheries, as regards the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Acts administration, are in the hands of local boards of conservators appointed for the purpose, with the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries as the central authority. Districts may be formed, and Boards of Conservators appointed for waters containing salmon, or freshwater fish. These Boards have power to make bye-laws, not only for the regulation of the fisheries for salmon and freshwater fish, but also in certain cases for the regulation of other kinds of fishing which are prejudicial to such fisheries. They are also empowered to issue licences for fishing for salmon, trout, etc., and make regulations in respect of close time for freshwater fish.
Fisheries, especially inland fisheries in lakes and rivers, are thus protected and encouraged in various ways by laws applicable to the several districts, and infringement of the regulations punishable by fine or imprisonment, unqualified fishers - the unlicensed poachers, being amenable to the Fishery Laws. Fishing, therefore, is protected against unright entering on another's fishery without leave and dependent for continuance upon conservation and culture, safeguarding against undue depletion by either its votaries, or that of vermin, whether ground or winged.