Hr. LEMIEUX-by Mr. Bickerdikeasked :
1. Has the Minister of Marine and Fisheries received the following petition :-
To the Honourable Raymond Prefontaine, Minister of Marine and Fisheries,
The petition of the undersigned fish merchants, fishermen and others interested in the fishing industry in the district of Gaspe, respectfully showeth
That the fisheries of the Gulf of St. Lawrence are seriously injured by the use of trap-nets for codfish and herring which have been proved to be very destructive to the fisheries, owing to the fact that large and small fish are indiscriminately caught ; the claim that the large mesh gives freedom of way to small fish is not justified by experience, it being conclusively proved that the large fish block up the meshes, and the small fish, when in the trap, are unable to escape.
That the seining of herring, caplin and any other fish in the spring of the year and at all times for the purpose of fertilizing lands, is a wanton waste of valuable product, and a great detriment to the profitable prosecution of the fisheries, and should be discouraged by every possible means, in order that those fish may be used solely for the purposes of food and bait ; otherwise our cod-fishing industry will be ruined, as no bait can be procured. Your petitioners also pray that the trapping of all kinds of fish by means of steam trawling be made contrary to law.
Wherefore, your petitioners urgently request that you will be pleased to take the necessary measures to prohibit the use of trap-nets for codfish and herring, and also prohibit the use of herring, caplin and other fish for fertilizing purposes. And your petitioners, as duty bound, will ever pray.
Joseph Lemieux, maire,
Wm. Fruing & Co., Ltd., per U.S.L. Welson L. Laffoley,
Frank Bignell, Supt. Mont-Louis Seigniory,
Anthine Boucher, .
Louis Lemieux, fils,
2. What action does the Department of Marine and Fisheries intend to take on this question ?
The MINISTER OB' MARINE AND FISHERIES (Hon. R. Prefontaine) :
1. Yes, through Mr. Lemieux, M.P.
2. The department, after fully considering the matter, has reached the conclusion that sufficient grounds do not exist for taking action on the lines of the petition.
The department does not feel justified in taking an action in the matter, as the three principal statements in the petition are not justified by the facts as officially reported.
The petitioners claim that codfish and herring have injured the fisheries of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Statistics officially published show that the cod and herring fishery during the past few years, has shown no decrease in productiveness. In fact, these fish have been unusually abundant, and any local decrease is accounted for by merely local circumstances-rough weather, &c.
The petitioners protest against the seining of herring, caplin and other fish in the spring to be used for fertilizing purposes. While the Fisheries Act prohibits the catching of fish for use as manure, the department has not felt justified in strenuously enforcing the law in this respect, as such fish as herring in the spring are in poor condition, and frequently not very marketable. Such fish as are not marketable, instead of being wasted are used on the land. To this the department sees no objection.
Tlie petitioners protest against the use of steam trawls. This allegation is not found to have a very good basis according to the reports of the departmental officers. Steam trawling is so limited at present that special restrictive steps would not be justifiable.