...I propose at this time to call the attention of my fellow citizens to a consideration of the Fisheries.
This branch of our domestic resources, altho' long known to exist, appears not to have met with that attention which its profitable returns would seem to merit.... From an authentic source it is ascertained, that during the fishing season of 1819, there were caught and barrelled for transportation, 1309 barrels of White Fish. During the season last past, there have been prepared for exportation 1835 barrels, of a quality hitherto unequalled in point of size and flavor, and these too on eleven fishing grounds, and in the space of 18 miles of the Detroit river. This gives an average of 126 barrels to each ground--to this, however, may be added about 500 barrels which were reserved for home consumption. In stating these facts we cannot but admit with mortifying regret, that 700 barrels were caught, and 300 barrels purchased and exported by strangers, having no interest in our territory, except so far as its productions would enable them to add to the wealth of their own state. This leaves a balance of between three and four hundred barrels, exported by our own citizens. Surely, if persons can come from the state of Ohio, a distance of two or three hundred miles, leaving their usual business, and realise sufficient profit from fishing, notwithstanding the disadvantages under which they must labor at a distance from home, to induce their return, at almost every season, our own citizens should reflect that they too might ma[k]e it a business individually profitable, and give labor to many persons who. during the fishing season, are destitute of employment.
It may, perhaps, be urged that the want of disposable capital, or the fluctuations of the market will not authorise the prosecution of this business by individual enterprise, or offer that encouragement to personal exertion which other branches of business present though not always realize; that nearly a year expires before even the capital vested can be again received, and a variable market will not permit them to calculate even upon a return of the capital itself; applying therefore the rule, that it is not a safe business where the expense is certain and the returns contingent, it is better to sell our fish upon the spot and realise something, than by adventuring too much, to lose all. This course of reasoning carries with it some weight, and is entitled to consideration...