The deleterious effects of the salt tax on the levels of fish consumption among the poorer classes became a more and more frequent cause of complaint as the eighteenth century wore on. For example, in 1785 Thomas Fennings, a fisherman at Harwich, told the Select Committee on the British fisheries. The general impression received from a study of the various local fisheries is one of immense annual fluctuations in the shoals and the catches, leading to sharp alternations of glut and scarcity. The fishery, an industry of majestic vessels and widespread markets, lay deep in the mercantilist consciousness. The fishery in the Shetlands and the west coast of Scotland operated under many handicaps, apart from the uncertainty as to which lochs the shoals would enter and whether the number of fish so entering would be large or small. A control in the estuary attempted to even out the flow to Billingsgate.