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Sweeping a Fish Weir
Etching (22/50)
17 1/2 x 23 3/4

A fish weir is a trap consisting of three parts – a fence, a mouth, and a roundabout. The fence is constructed to direct swimming fish through the mouth and into the roundabout – from which there is very little escape.
The fish weir which developed in the upper Bay of Fundy during the period 1800 – 1970 was completely exposed at the highest/lowest tideal ranges, during the tidal ranges between the new and full moons it was partially submerged at low tide.
In order to harvest fish, a method of sweeping the fish weir was used. This involved several people pulling a weighted small mesh net across the bottom of the roundabout to entrap the fish in the shallow area of the weir.
The main cash fish was Atlantic salmon. These fish would become frantic in this situation and instinctively swim at top speed searching for an opening to escape. A forty pound salmon would present itself as a worthy opponent to the sweeper who had his feet or knees apart.
During the 1970s a ban on this method of harvesting was imposed. As a result, I know of only one fish weir of this type that existing today. This is a reduction of hundreds from a time when every headland bosted its weir. My family constructed and owned weirs preceding 1950.