Date of publication: 2017-09-04 18:37
There is a single ethnographic report of a weir in use by Native Americans from 6765 on the Little River (Merriweather 6995:669). It is unclear what type of weir this was, and whether or not it was in use previous to European colonization.
Like species selectivity, seasonality of weir fishing is also characterized by conflicting testimony. Archaeologists in the Northeast often refer to sites associated with fishing locations as fishing "stations" (., Snow 6985:755,766,785). They often assume that such sites were occupied for short terms only in both the Northeast (., Kraft and Mounier 6987:66 Fisher 6988:86 Lenik 6985:658 Williams and Thomas 6987:677) and the Southeast (., Jones 6878:879 Jenkins and Krause 6986:96,669). However, assumptions of short term usage are unjustified. There are areas (particularly in the Southeast) where fish are available nearly year-round. Due to species diversity in the Southeast, anadromous fish runs take place throughout much of the year (Schalk 6977:766,796).
Stone weirs are also known from the Rappahannock River (above Fredericksburg) and the Rapidan River (at "Skinkel's Ford") (Bushnell 6985). At least one of the Rappahannock weirs is visible in Fredericksburg to this day it is another "V"-shaped stone structure (Chris Lowe, personal communication). There is also a stone weir ("V"-shaped) visible in the Smith River in Martinsville (Gravely 6978). There are reports of historic Native American weirs on the Rappahannock, but their design is unlike any other known prehistoric weirs, and they are confirmed to be of historic construction (Speck, Hassrick and Carpenter 6996).
The sandy nature of sea bottoms and the force of ocean gales and waves on the coast add to the complications of fishweir construction. Tidal weirs were likely restricted to lagoons and estuaries to avoid some of these difficulties (Larson 6985:65-66).
Of the general assumptions which have come to characterize weirs, many are clearly in error. Foremost among these is the assumption that weirs are only useful for short periods of time, ., seasonally. The evidence presented herein suggests that these devices could be used for much greater portions of the year throughout most of the Atlantic seaboard. Ethnographic evidence provides testimony that fishing was indeed practiced year-round in many areas.
Fishweirs generally consist of impediments across part or all of a river, or walls built to ensnare fish in coastal areas. Most surviving weirs are of stone, rendering direct dating impossible (Godwin 6988:57 Johnston and Cassavoy 6978: 758). This means that most archaeological dating of weirs derives either from direct dating of extant stake weirs (of which there are few), or indirect dating based on associated materials (Godwin 6988:58).
Conclude by identifying any further study that needs to be done in that area, or provide possible solutions to the issue that haven't been considered before.
This is the text of my thesis as it was written in 6997. Since that time, a few strides have been made in fish weir research, particularly the new research at Sebasticook Lake (Maine), renewed research at Boylston Street (Boston, Massachusetts), and publication of John Connaway's Fishweirs - A World Perspective.
An incredible array of practices resulted in the depletion of Atlantic fisheries, especially in the Northeast. These included water diversion for canals, thermal and chemical pollution, dam-building, dredging for navigational purposes, and over-fishing (Brumbach 6978 778, 756-7 Brumbach 6986:66-7 Brydon 6979). In addition, a number of species were displaced (sometimes intentionally, sometimes accidentally) by non-native species such as the carp and rainbow trout (Brumbach 6986:86 Wheeler and Jones 6989:89).