HOME OF THE LADY DENMAN - Local history isn't always about the big story - the everyday story of life in the early development of the region can be a fascinating, entertaining and educational journey.

12 May 2017

Fishing report for Jervis Bay 1912

"The bay at present is discoloured to a milky whiteness by the whale-oil factory operations."


Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 - 1954), Thursday 24 November 1912, page 12

This fishing report makes interesting reading, especially the part about the bay being covered with a white slick from the whaling operation.  The correspondent actually wrote the article aboard the whale processing factory ship the Loc Tay.  The Loch Tay and another factory ship the Polynesia were a permanent fixture in the bay at this time and were part of a larger whale hunting operation being carried out off the NSW coast using Jervis Bay as a base.
By December whale numberes had dropped,  catches were becoming harder to secure and many of the whales contained small amounts of oil, the small numbers of whales could not support the whaling operations.
This is the second reference to the discoloured water I have found,  and was also one of the reasons whale processing and hunting operations were eventually completely stopped inside Jervis Bay.
 You can read this disturbing story below.

The second interesting part of this story describes the Southerly winds arriving in  Sydney as the "JB wind".  I found a previous article that told a similar story and  mentions -  "Jervis Bay, where the weather comes from."


Writing aboard the Loch Tay In Jervls Bay, my angling horizon for the moment is naturally limited, but it has also been perceptibly broadened, for there is nothing the old fisherman likes better than to see new fishing grounds. Jervls Bay is the place where the southerlies branded J.B. in Sydney are first recorded, and there is no doubt the expansive inlet has more than its fair share of the breezes that are actually brewed on the fringe of the ice further south.  My last experience of Jervls Bay was aboard the Thetis, where the trawl swept across tho bottom for a couple of miles and the catch turned out to be chiefly red weed and skates. More intimate investigation during trip 3 to Captain's Point, where the Naval College is being built and to the little town of Huskisson, where the Dent clan predominates, revealed the fact that off Bowen Island and Captain's Point are good schnapper waters. On a new pier in front of the college site several workmen were fishing and catching large coloured leather-Jackets, slippery mackerel, yellowtail, and other fish, and a Dent party was wooing the red fish a mile further towards the strait between Bowen Island and the mainland. At Huskisson the little river is a first-class flathead, bream, and blackfish ground, and about 300 yards from its entrance a reef is the feeding ground for several varieties of marine fish. Around the bay are innumerable hauling grounds, where whiting, mullet, and bream were catchable, but there were no workers on them most of the time, although the Loch Tay folk would have been ready purchasers of a couple of baskets a day. At Huskisson no bait was procurable,  but no doubt a day's notice would suffice for the local haulers to bring some ashore. The bay at present is discoloured to a milky whiteness by the whale-oil factory operations.

Continue reading about the Loc Tay and Whaling in Jervis Bay.
Continue reading about - "Jervis Bay, where the weather comes from".

The S.S.Thetis mentioned in the article was a steam trawler which worked the coast from Sydney to Jervis Bay,  she was involved in the search for the S.S. Dandenong which sunk off Jervis Bay in 1876,  becoming one of the worst maritime disasters near our shores, 40 people went down with the ship including women and children.   The story of the disaster is about the amazing struggle for survival in impossible conditions,  involving great acts of bravery and sad loss - Continue reading about the S.S. Dandenong.

Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 - 1954), Thursday 28 November 1912, page 12

Serious complaints have been made at Jervis Bay respecting the discoloration of the water,  resulting from the work aboard the factory steamers on which the whales brought in by the gunboats have been treated.  A Nowra resident, Mr J. Miller, writes: -  The waters of Jervis  Bay are being polluted to such an extent that the fish are leaving tho bay instead of entering it,  as is their habitat this time of year.  The waters are of a milky appearance, and have a peculiar odour, while the shores are strewn with large pieces of blubber, intestines and the oysters to are turning white.   We have seen large schools of fish approaching the entrance, but as soon as they reach this discoloured water they immediately turn back. We attribute the above causes to the presence of two large factory ships, with their attendant gunboat whalers one, the Loch Tay, causing the greater pollution, we presume through the use of acids, chemicals, etc, in the treatment of the whales.  This boat has dealt with over 150 carcases, according to press reports.  This is ruining the fishing industry, and keeping tourists and amateur fishermen from patronising Jervis Bay.  We also understand that no revenue is being collected from these foreign ships. They carry all their own goods, butter, plumbers', materials, fitters, and coopers goods, in fact, they are fully equipped to do all their own work with their own men and materials.   This is no good to Australia.  I would also point out that in parts of Jervis Bay the deposited grease causes the sand to adhere to the feet when one walks on it.  - 

This complaint is true In the main, but during a recent visit to the Loch Tay,  the "Sun" representative found no evidence of the use of chemicals on the steamer.  The waters were certainly coloured milky white, but sharks were by no means deterred from entering them,  and off Captain's Point the fishing was good.  It is probably correct that shoals of fish outside, noting the discoloration, refrained from entering the bay,  but fish are curious creatures, and it Is quite likely that before long there will be a great rush of fish into the bay for the decomposing whale-meat.  At present they are puzzled by tho oil, which,  being on the. surface causes the water to lose Its pristine clearness. The oysters were certainly being spoiled in flavour by the oil.  A protest has been arranged at Huskisson and Nowra, but before it reaches dimensions sufficiently large to command attention the  Loch Tay will have followed her gunboats to New Zealand waters. The Polynesia and her two gunboats have gone, and the Loch Tay is expected to depart in a few days.




No comments :

Post a Comment