April 28, 1910

THE LOBSTER FISHERIES.

LIB

John Howard Sinclair

Liberal

Mr. J. H. SINCLAIR (Guysborough).

Mr. Speaker, I desire now to ask the House to dispose of the report of the committee on Marine and Fisheries dealing with the lobster industry, which I discussed shortly yesterday. I will not make any apology for taking up a short time this morning in giving the House the reasons why the committee arrived at their conclusions. My only apology is the importance of the question. I .think I can say that it is of much greater importance than very many of the questions that have engaged the attention of this House during the present session. The committee have made some recommendations in the direction of changing the present law in regard to the lobster industry, and it is absolutely necessary that the government and the House should be put in possession of the reasons that led the committee to arrive at these conclusions. The most .important of the changes recommended is in regard to the size limit of lobsters to be taken along the coast. The coast of Canada is divided under the present regulations into nine divisions extending from Gaspe to the international boundary line on the coast of New Brunswick. The reason for this division is largely climatic. The ice disappears from the coast in certain parts of eastern Canada much earlier than in other parts, so that the fishing can be carried on in .those parts at earlier dates. It is absolutely necessary, in order to give the fishermen the opportunity of prosecuting their business, that this fact be taken note of in dividing the country into districts. I pointed out yesterday that the committee had found it necessary to ask that exact information be obtained as to the size of the lobsters that were being caught along the coast, as a great deal of difference of opinion on that point existed. The committee asked the department to instruct their officers in every division during the past fishing season to have a large number of the lobsters measured, to find out what size were being caught. It was impossible of course to measure all the lobsters arriving at the different points; but the instructions were to select a boat coming in with fish that w.as a good sample of all the others, and to measure every lobster in that boat down to a fraction of an inch, and to Tecord the measurements and return them to the department. Those instructions were carried out, I am informed, in every county along the coast of the four provinces, where lobster canning is carried on. There are a few counties in

the Bay of Fundy district where no canning is carried on, and where measurements were not made, but in all the other counties along the coast it was done. It appears that 600,000 lobsters were measured, and the results tabulated, showing the numbers measured in each district and the percentage of those that were below the size limit. It turned out that in some of the districts more than one-half the lobsters taken were under the legal size, and in one district about two-thirds. This proved two things: in the first place, that the violation of the present law is general all over the coast; and, in the second place, that it is practically impossible to enforce the present size limit, because the result would be to close up every lobster canning factory on the coast of Canada. The regulations relating to the size limit have been in force about 36 years, and the evidence appears to be that they have never been respected at any period in their history, that at no time did the packers refuse to accept what are called illegal or short lobsters, that at no time did the fishermen on any part of the coast throw such lobsters back into the water, that .the universal practice has been to boil everything that was caught.

Now there are great difficulties, as any person will see who is acquainted with the business, in the way of enforcing the size limit. This fishing is carried on over 5,000 miles of coast by about 3,000 boats, the packing is done in about 700 canneries, many of those canneries are situated at isolated points on the coast and are difficult to reach, and a small force of officers would be utterly helpless in enforcing a regulation of that kind. It is so easy to conceal, and so easy to violate it. I do not say it is impossible, I think it is possible, but it would occasion vast expense and if it could be done, I say it would not be wise to do it, because it would be equivalent to the destruction of the industry so far as the packing is concerned. Some fishermen would object to that. There are fishermen in some districts who sell their lobsters alive, who are favourably situated with regard to the Boston market, and who are able to sell them at large prices at points on the coast of the United States. This, however, is not possible on the greater part of the coast of Canada. Most of the fishermen are still dependent on the packing industry. If you will look at the figures, you will find that the packing is a very large business. The total output of lobsters each year is valued at about $4,200,000. Less than one million of that value pertains to the live lobster industry. Three times as much has to be credited to the packing industry, so that the packing or canning industry is by far the largest industry of the two, and it could not be turned down without very grave eonsidera-Mr. SINCLAIR.

tion. This question of the size limit appears to have been a sort of stumbling block to the officers of the department for many years, and as far as I can find, the official opinion has been that it was very difficult to enforce. As far back as 21 years ago, Lieut. A. B. Gordon, R.N., who was the chief fishery officer at that date in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, made a report to the department in which he says :

The present regulations in regard to size limit and the destruction of females carrying exuded ora are intended as protective measures and are without doubt protective enactments; but the question arises how far the enforcement of the enactments is possible with the existing means at the command of the department and the still wider question as to whether the enforcement of the regulations is compatible with the existence of the industry. I consider the fact undeniable that taking the Gulf of St. Lawrence district if the above quoted regulations were strictly enforced not one single packing factory could run for one single day, and if the packers, whose interest and desire it undoubtedly ia to maintain this fishery, were to attempt to enforce the law, the fishermen would directly reply that they could not make a living at fishing with adherence to those regulations, and therefore could not fish for the packers. The rigid enforcement of the existing regulations is therefore tantamount to the closure of the factories.

That was the opinion of Lieut. Gordon 21 years ago, and he was the officer at that time in charge of the protection of fishing in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Now, coming down to the present day, I may give the opinion of Mr. Venning, who is the present commissioner of fisheries. Mr. Venning did not make up his mind without a good deal of consideration. He is a very able officer as we all know, and has given great attention to this branch of the department. Mr. Venning visited the coast of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and I think of all the maritime provinces two years ago, in order to investigate this matter. He called every fishery overseer, every fishery official, or at all events, every fishery inspector in charge of the enforcement of the law and consulted them in regard to the enforcement of the law relating to the size limit, and after these consultations which were very carefully gone into, this is what Mr. Venning says in his report to the department:

The preponderance of opinion developed at the inquiry was to .the effect that in many oases a strict enforcement of the existing size limits would, if not entirely close up the canneries, so cripple them as to make it unprofitable to continue operations.

The view held by the canners to-day seems to be that if they are obliged to render a strict observance of the size limit they cannot proceed with the prosecution of the industry.

Now, I will also call another witness, Mr. M. H. Nickerson, member for the county

oi Shelburne, in the local parliament of Nova Scotia. Mr. Nickerson is a man well acquainted with the fishing industry. He was so prominent in that line that he was selected in 1898 as a member of the Royal Commission that investigated this important question. Both Mr. Nickerson and Mr. W. Whitman, M.P.P. for Guysborough, were on that commission, and they both gave the commission the benefit of their evidence. I will read what Mr. Nickerson says on that point:

Q. Is not the great danger to the lobster industry the taking of -small lobsters?-A. Yes, I have admitted that is so.

Q. The first object would be to protect the industry, and is there not a danger of the fishery being destroyed because of small lobsters being taken?-A. The law gives that nominal protection already; what we want is that the small lobster shall be protected in practice as well as in law.

Q. The law that is not enforced is no good. Whose fault is it that it is not enforced? -A. I am obliged to say that it seems to be tacitly agreed by all parties concerned that the law with regard to size should go by default. It is a very unsatisfactory state of affairs.

Q. That is what is destroying the whole industry, the law is not enforced?-A. I have nothing to say in opposition to that.

Then I want to give the opinion of Mr. H. E. Baker, of Cape Breton. Mr. Baker has been all his lifetime engaged in the lobster industry, and there is no man in the _ maritime provinces who is better acquainted with that industry. The question asked of Mr. Baker was:

Q. If you reduce the size to 7 inches would you not be encouraging the destruction of the female lobster before it reaches the age where it is easily distinguishable as a berried lobster? ^* ^u;-v are destroyed now almost about that size, some about 4 inches in size 1 understand in some places.

Q. Well, what do you say about that, do you think it is a good thing?-A. No, it is not a good thing if one can prevent it. The size limit has been universally disregarded tt0^0?1*^.*11 ^is country but even in the United States where they have been trying to maintain a lOJ-inch limit, particularly in Maine. The fishermen find a way of getting a market for their short lobsters.

Then I take the opinion of Capt, Chas. Lonnes, of Canso, Nova Scotia.

Q. There is no use having a regulation that is not enforced?-A. I think there is not a packer who would not stand up and tell you himself that there is not a factory in Canada that does observe the law, if it did it might as well go out of business. Now what is the good of a law that is just discredited to that extent that the man himself will tell you so? There is no good having that law on the statute book.

- Michael Leehan, of Mount Stewart, Prince Edward Island, was asked:

Q. Bo you think it would be possible to enforce the regulation?-A. If you did enforce it, it would put us out of the business and the fishermen could not fish.

Cj. Supposing we tried to enforce it?-A. We would only last about a week and there would be nobody in the business.

Q. It would drive everybody out of the business?-A. Yes, drive everybody out.

I want also to give you the opinion of a prominent man in the fishermens' union, Mr. D. Scott, of Main-a-Dieu, in the island of Cape Breton. Mr. Scott says he has had large experience in this industry, that he worked in a factory for 18 years, that he has the experience of four years' lobster fishing. And he is now the secretary of one of the most active fishermens' unions on the coast. This is an abstract from the evidence of Mr. Scott:

There- is one thing I have to say, and that is that the law in reference to the protection of the spawn or berried lobster, and the small lobster, that is the lobster under the -size limit, has never been adhered to or observed by the fishermen or the packers in this locality during my 18 years' experience

* # # #

I might say that away back in 1893, there was an effort made to enforce the size limit here in this locality, we had the late inspector coming in to harass us, at all hours, even at night, he was coming morning, noon and every other time of day.

Q. That was in 1893?-A. In 1893. It was necessary then in order that we might protect ourselves, I was working then in the factory, to take all precautions. They kept such a close watch on us, and were so hard on us, that the men who were receiving the lobsters on the wharf had to cull all the undersized and all the spawn lobsters as quickly as they could and put them in a separate part of the dock, hiding them to-day in one place and to-morrow in another, in order that we might save the factory or the proprietor from being fined. This was done so successfully, that I think from 1902 to 1906 the factory paid three fines.

I could go on and multiply these opinions of men who are prominent in the business and know what they are talking about, all going to show that this regulation in regard to the size limit has not been observed and that it is not practicable to observe it. The question was asked a number of times what they would think of the proposal to reduce the size limit from eight inches to seven inches. Very little encouragement was given to the committee to report in favour of that proposition. In the first place, it would seem to be too lovs a size to produce seed lobsters. The lobster, we were informed, does not reproduce itself until it is about eight inches in size. So if we legalized the killing of them down to seven inches, we should not arrive a-t the object we seek. And besides, we should have the same difficulty in regard to enforcement-the enforcement'

of the seven inch regulation would not be any easier than the enforcement of the sight-inch regulation. It would appear that, unless the department is willing to put a large force of men on the coast, and, for that purpose, to spend a great many thousands of dollars, it would ba impossible to enforce a regulation of that kind. The committee, therefore, sought to learn whether there was not some other plan that could be adopted that would conserve the industry better than this size limit. Of course, i need to say, we were all impressed with the great importance of preserving the lobster industry. It is the greatest fishing industry we have at present on our coast; and next to the salmon industry in British Columbia, it is the greatest fishing industry of Canada. When we know that it is the last remaining great lobster industry in the world, we realize how important it is. I am informed that lobsters are not found in the Pacific ocean, nor in the Indian ocean; they are not found far north nor far south. They are found only in the North Atlantic. They are now, I believe, quite scarce on the coast of Europe, and there are not many on the coast of the United States, with the exception of Maine. So we have in the maritime provinces the last great lobster fishery of the world, and it is of the greatest importance that we should preserve it. The members of the committee were all impressed with the idea that, as it had proved that the present regulation is not working well and is not resulting in the preservation of the lobsters, and that it is not possible to enforce it without stopping the industry altogether, it was necessary to arrive at some other method by which the smallest of the lobsters could be protected. And the proposal submitted is that a regulation trap be prescribed with the slats so far apart that the small lobsters will have a chance to escape. In this way the lobster can look after himself without the fishery overseer chasing around to look after him. We think this method would work out to the preservation, to some extent at all events, of the industry.

There is some but not much difference of opinion in regard to the question as to whether the trap will work out in practice or not. A great many witnesses-men who had large experience in these matters- were asked their opinion and frankly expressed an opinion and it was always present to the committee in looking over the evidence that, of late years, as the lobsters began to get smaller in size, the slats of the traps began to come closer together. It was obvious that the fishermen were doing this for the purpose of keeping in the small lobsters, and it was thought that, if we could arrive at a regulation trap with slats far enough apart to let the small lobsters out, we should be Mr. SINCLAIR.

making a long step toward preserving the industry. Having settled in our own mind that the old regulation had proved useless altogether, it was felt that a regulation of the kind proposed, if established and carried out, might be of great advantage in preserving the industry. Regarding the recommendations made by Commander Wakeham, we could not make up our minds to agree with altogether, some of them were very good, but others seemed not entirely advisable. For example, he recommended that, west of Halifax, the size limit should be 101 inches. When we looked over the measurements made in that district we found that only about 15 per cent of the lobsters caught in that district came up to the limit he recommended. We felt that to adopt the regulation he proposed would be equivalent to stopping the lobster industry altogether in the district west of Halifax. We found that measurements made were as follows :

County. No. of Lobsters.

Lunenburg 4,060

Queens 19,513

Shelburne 20,730

Yarmouth 3,924

Digby 12,094

Total 60,321

It was found that 55-9 per cent of these lobsters were under the legal size-that is. under nine inches-and only 15 per cent were over 10 inches. To adopt a limit of 10i inches, as any hon. member can see, would be equivalent to stopping the whole lobster industry in that territory. There were 53 canneries operating in that territory in 1909, and they produced a total pack of 1,451,720 1-lb- cans valued at $362,930. The regulation, in that case, of course, would protect the lobsters. But, in my opinion, it would kill the fishermen. We do not think the lobster industry in such a bad position that it is necessary to do that.

But instead of this, we are making the recommendation, of which I have already spoken, prescribing a certain kind of trap to- be used. You will see, sir, how easy it is for the inspector to inspect the traps. He can take a trip along the coast in the spririg of the year before the fishing begins and have a look at them. He can easily tell whether the traps are or are not made according to the rule requiring that the slats be not less than 11 inches apart.

While it would be impossible for him to watch. 10,000 or 12,000 fishermen and 700 factories, it is quite possible for the inspectors along the coast to have an eye on the traps and to see that they are not used unless they are made according to the regulations. This question was put to a large number of witnesses, and if the House will bear with me I would like to put these witnesses on record. I know that

there will be a great deal of criticism of what the committee have done. I know there are many theorists along the coast who will say we have taken a step backward, and that the step we have taken is likely to result in the destruction of the lobster industry; and, for that reason, I would like to show to the House and the country that in this investigation held by Commander Wakeham along the coast a large number of men have undertaken on oath to give their opinion in regard to this proposal, and also in regard to the right kind of trap or engine to be used so as to protect the fish. I shall read a number of these opinions. The following is the opinion of Mr. Wm. O. Porter, who describes himself as a fisherman:

Q. What is your opinion about the matter of the trap, do you think that the taking of small lobsters could be regulated by insisting on a certain legal trap with a fixed space between the slats?-A. I do not think there is any doubt but what you could build traps so that all of them below the proper size would find their way out, because they are very active in hunting their way out of the trap. I have found them nearly out when hauling the trap.

Q. Some fishermen hold that once the trap is disturbed the lobster will not try to get out?-A. I suppose that is a matter of opinion. I know that if I put a trap in the water with the laths wide apart I do not get as many small lobsters, it is a question whether they get in or not.

Q. Is there a tendency in recent years to narrow the slats?-A. There has been with me I know.

I wish to give the evidence of Augustus Harris, a member of the executive of the Fishermen's Union of Long Beach, N.S.:

Q. Is there any difference in the trap you now fish with compared with that in use when you began years ago?-A. Tes, I doubt if the space between the laths will now average three-quarters of an inch, and it used to be one and three-quarters.

Q. That reduction must have been made for the purpose of holding the small lobster, was it not?-A. Certainly, that is the only reason.

Q. Do you think we could protect the general run of small lobsters by insisting on a standard trap with a certain space between the laths, say one and a half inch?-A. Yes, I have always been of that opinion.

Q. You think that would govern it largely? -A. Yes, I could give you the figures of lobsters that I counted myself and the number of traps; one man fished 38 traps and he had 381 lobsters, 152 from 9 to 101, and he had only 12 tinkers; another man had 96 traps closely lathed, and he got 36 large lobsters, 156 from 9 to 10| and over 400 tinkers.

Charles Lonnes, of Canso, says:

Q. We were looking at some traps on the wharf and they run about one inch here?- A. Yes.

Q. Do you think that has anything to do with the capture of small lobsters? Do you

think that the capture of these small lobsters can be controlled to any extent by regulating the width between the slats?-A. To a very great extent. If you put the slats close enough together you are bound to capture the greater amount of small lobsters that go in, whereas if the slats were far enough apart so that they could go out any way you would get very few of them.

Take the opinion of Mr. John W. Sproull, a fish dealer and packer of Canso, N.S., who has a large experience in this business and whose opinion is worth as much as that of any man on the coast of Nova Scotia on such a question:

Q. Other propositions have been made, some have said, 'give us a 7 inch limit instead of an 8-inch limit and we will observe the law.' You know that we began with a 9-inch limit which was not enforced and then an 8-inch limit was given because they said they would observe that, and now they want a 7-inoh limit.-A. I would not propose anything of that kind. If you were going to propose anything along this line I -would propose that the trap should have a certain space between the slats.

Q. What would you put that at here?-A. The fishermen around here use the head of the hammer as a gauge, and that is about an inch. There are a few undersized lobsters caught in those traps, but I should say that if the space were made 1 and I inch it would be all right.

Take the opinion of a man in the Magdalen Islands, Mr. W. C. Leslie, a lobster packer of the Magdalen Islands, who says:

The ordinary traps here have laths an inch apart and they very seldom take lobsters under 7 inches.

Mr. Robert Bell, of Alberton, P.E.I., gave the following testimony:

Q. Do you think the regulations have ever been enforced in your recollection?-A. Not strictly.

Q. Were they ever, at any time, more strictly enforced than they are now?-A. Seme 15 years ago there was a law passed that the first two laths of the trap had to be an inch and a quarter apart. That was strictly enforced. At that time also there was a limit regulation and that was very strictly enforced. I know that because I was fined once.

Q. Have you ever heard of anybody being fined recently?-A. Not very recently.

Q. Was that when Sir Hibbert Tupper was minister?-A. Yes, sir.

Q. What do you think yourself of that regulation limiting the space between the slats? -A. I think it had a great tendency to protect the small lobster and the really small lobsters are of no value to the packer. It is a great injury to the industry to destroy them.

Here is a man who had had experience, and who used the trap made according to that regulation 15 years ago, and he gives his experience that it did operate to protect the small lobster.

Take the opinion ,of Peter Mclsaac, of Bay Shore, P.E.I.: ,

Q. What would you fix the limit of 6pace at, say in the three lower slats?-A. I would say not less than an inch anyway. I put mine at about an inch or slightly over that. That is from my own experience, I find it better.

Q. Do you not think by having a space of at least an inch and a quarter a larger proportion of the undersized lobsters would escape?-A. Well, yes.

Q. It must be wrong, must it not, to kill off the small lobsters?-A. It is, but the trap at the end, as a general thing, has heads that are knit with quite a large mesh and a large number of the small lobsters work through anyway.

I want also to give the opinion of Mr. T. C. Gallant, a canner and fisherman of Summerside, P.E.I.:

If the fishermen build their traps with only half an inch space between the slats they will catch all the small fish, but if the slats are an inch apart those lobsters have got a chance to work their way out. I believe in hatcheries all right but not in spending money on them and then allowing the fishermen to take lobsters that are only four inches in 6ize.

W. A. Macdonald of Grand Tracadie Harbour, P.E.I., said:

Q. What distance apart are the slats in your traps?-A. I don't think they would be more than three-quarters of an inch at the outside.

Q. Do you think it is desirable to have the slats as narrow as that; do you not think it would be wiser to keep them a little farther apart and in that way allow the small lobsters a chance to get out?-A. If you lost the small lobsters on the north side you would lose them all, and you might as well shut down.

Q. What lobsters do you throw out?-A. We dont throw out any.

Then take the evidence of Mr. J. A. Ellis, a canner at Cape St. Mary, N.S.:

Q. Do you think by establishing a standard space between the slats it would be possible to allow the escape of the small lobsters?-A. Yes, I think it is. Of course the narrower you have the space between the slats the smaller lobsters you will hold; you will let out the very small lobsters if you have a little more space between the slats.

Wm. McLeod, of Alberton, P.E.I., gave the following evidence:

Q. Now, with a view to protecting the fishery, are there any changes you would suggest in the regulations?-A. I would suggest to put the laths in the trap far enough apart to let a 7-inch lobster go. It would be a little bard for a few years but it would bring thf fishery up again to its former state.

Q. What would you say to a regulation which would do away with the size limit, control the distance between the slats, and close the fishery on the 1st July, always protecting the berried lobster as thoroughly as possible?-A. I think that would be a good thing.

Q. Do you think if that were done and carried out strictly it would have the effect of preserving the industry?-A. It would have that effect.

Topic:   THE LOBSTER FISHERIES.
Permalink
LIB

John Howard Sinclair

Liberal

Mr. SINCLAIR.

Q. And in a few years the fishermen would reap the benefit by an increased catch?-A. Yes.

I also wish to give you the opinion of James McMillan, canner, of Georgetown, P.E.I.:

Q. What is the width at present between your slats?-A. They are pretty close down now but the sill is about three quarters of an inch. If the lath is put down on the sill I think it would be all right. If that were done and the lath nailed across it would not catch the lobsters too small but they could get away. A small lobster can get out through a pretty small space if it has the opportunity.

Q. What size lobster would get out through an inch opening?-A. Well a 7-inch lobster could get out through that.

Q. Do you think the lobsters make any effort to scramble clear of the trap when it is coming up, or are they more likely to grab on to something until they get to the surface? -A. I think they do get out very often, some of the fishermen say they do anyway.

Topic:   THE LOBSTER FISHERIES.
Permalink
?

Then John P.

Sutherland of St. Peter's Bay, P.E.I. :

Q. Do you not think it mu,t exhaust the fishery very rapidly to destroy the young and immature lobsters?-A. Well, I would think so.

Q. Do you think we could stop the destruction of them by insisting upon a fair space between the slats of the trap?-A. I would think so.

Q. What would you put the space at?-A. I would put it at an inch.

Q. That you think would allow these very small lobsters to escape?-A. Yes, they would escape at an inch.

Norman McPhee, fisherman, of Clear Spring, P.E.I. :

Q. Do you not think that the modern trap with a very narrow opening is unnecessarily destructive, that it is destroying too many of the young fish?-A. Oh, certainly it gets too many young fish.

Q. How would remedy that?-A. By opening the trap.

Q. What width would you suggest?-A. I would think that about seven-eights of an inch would allow those small lobsters to pass out.

Q. Would you have that width all over the trap or only in the bottom laths?-A. In the bottom is sufficient. That is the way they naturally go out.

I wish also to give you the opinion of M. Nickerson, canner, of Clarke's Harbour, N.S. :

Q. What do you think about this matter of the traps? Do you think that it would be wise to establish a regulation-it has been suggested that the taking of the small lobsters should be regulated by having a trap so constructed that while retaining the large lobsters it would permit the small ones to escape, and the question is what kind of trap is best adapted for that purpose-providing that there should be a certain opening between the slats in the trap?-A. Well, that

would let a lot of them go out, there is no doubt about that, if the opening were large enough.

W. H. Giffin, of Goldboro, N.S. :

Q. Do you think such a regulation would be of service?-A. It would be one of the best things in the world.

Q. Would the small lobster go out?-A. If you were acquainted with the lobster as well as I am you would think he would go out.

Q. As long as there is bait in the trap will he go out?-A. I have seen them all going out as fast as they could when you are hauling.

There are a large number of other opinions that I could give you but it would be too tiresome to the House. I will therefore refer you to the evidence which is comprised in two large volumes, which was taken by Commander Wakeham, and which is available to any person who wishes to study it. I think I have shown that there seems to be a general opinion among the fishermen and packers that were examined in Tegard to this matter, that the widening of the slats of the trap would have the effect of saving the small lobsters. It is quite clear to me that at present we do not save them, that the present regulation is an utter failure in that respect; and it is important, if we can get a better regulation that will save the small lobsters, that the government should adopt it.

One of the other questions that came before the committee and a question about which there has been a good deal of controversy is that of granting licenses. A few years ago I believe it was felt by the department that there were too many canneries, and that if it were possible to encourage the live lobster industry by restricting the number of canneries, we ought to do so. The way to do that of course was to refuse to grant any more licenses. Many of the licenses were in the hands of a few companies, and these companies acquired others, and it had the appearance in some parts of the coast as if a monopoly was growing up. After the department refused to grant new licenses, an agitation arose among the fishermen, and it was stated in some places that this was a reason why better prices were not paid for the raw materials to the fishermen. I have not found very much evidence of that fact. At the same time it was felt by the committee that there is no logical reason why the department should step in to protect lobster canners, and why a lobster canner should not be in the same position as a grocer or merchant and fight his own way with other lobster canners for business. It is certain that on the greater part of the coast it would not very much increase fishing to give more licenses because nearly every fisherman who is equipped with a boat and able to catch fish at all, is fishing at present. So if you cut off the license you simply divide up the work of these fishermen among new canneries. There are points on the coast in the northern parts of Canada where the canner owns the equipment, and where he hires the men and pays them wages. Of course on those parts of the coast the multiplication of canneries would increase the catch to some extent. However, there did not seem to be any logical reason why the department should refuse licenses to the men who had the proper equipment. The opinion of the committee was that where a man could show to the officers of the department that he had a proper equipment he ought to be given a license to carry on the business.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I do not feel at all despondent -about the future of the lobster industry. You will find it stated that the lobster. industry is a failing industry, that it is not likely to last many years longer. I do not think that is a correct view. I am of the opinion that the lobster industry has shown a great deal of vitality. I have shown you that during the whole course of its history, this method that we did adopt many years ago for its protection has not been carried out, that the berried lobster has been destroyed on all sides, that the small lobster has also been destroyed, and that very little protection was afforded. You will find that it is almost impossible to preserve the fishing on the coast by adhering to these old regulations, because the honest fisherman who wants to do an honest business and who is anxious to preserve the berried lobster, which of course is the foundation of the industry, the man who is anxious to do his duty when he threatens his neighbour for violating the law by killing berried lobsters, the latter immediately retorts, ' You are breaking the law too.' As a matter of fact, all the lobster fishermen in that way become violators of the law. That is one of the reasons that influenced myself and that influenced other members of the committee in getting rid of these regulations that make every fisherman practically -a law-breaker who is engaged in -this business. Now I was saying that we have no reason to be despondent in regard to the lobster industry. There has been a decrease in the live lobster industry, a very decided decrease in the catch of live lobsters. I am not certain but that the reason may be that the large lobsters are becoming scarce on certain parts of the coast.

The live lobster industry only applies to parts of the coasts of Nova Scotia and to the southern coasts of New Brunswick. It does not apply to the north at all. nor practically to Cape Breton. The statistics that we have with regard to the canning industry are reliable. We know every case that is canned because there is government stamp placed on every case,

and it very easy to get correct statistics; therefore, we know that the statistics in regard to the capning industry are correct. I find that in the year 1898 the number of one-lb. cans put up on the coast was 10,730,594. I find that ten years later, in the year 1908, which is the last year for which we have statistics, the number of one-pound cans put up was 10,911,498,

showing an increase of about 200,000 cans during ten years. That does not look like a failing industry. It looks as if it were a growing business. It is quite true that when you come to deal with the live lobster industry there is a decrease in the catch. I am not able to explain it. There was an explanation given that we have not correct statistics about the live lobster industry, because live lobsters are often sold in the markets of the United States and no record is kept. I do not know whether that is correct. I am told that the department is adopting a method that will be used for the collection of reliable statistics with regard to the live lobster industry. But, it does look as if it were a failing industry. And yet I am inclined to think that with proper regulations, by adopting this suggestion as regards the trap so that the smaller lobsters will escape, by protecting the berried lobster thoroughly and by increasing the number of hatcheries and pounds along the coast, the industry may be made a permanent one. I am not alone in that opinion. I suppose that the man in the department who has given the most attention to this matter is Mr. Venning, the present commissioner of fisheries, whose opinion we all respect, and this is what Mr. Venning says:

I do not take the pessimistic view that a great many people are taking with regard to the lobster fishery. I do not consider that the lobster fishery is anything like destroyed and I do not think it is within reasonable reach of destruction. I do appreciate that probably the time has come when the most persistent effort should be made to continue the lobster industry; but that the fishery is a thing of the past and that we have now to take some very drastic measures to bring it back to life again does not seem to be at all a correct view, in my opinion.

That is the opinion of Mr. Venning, and I am very glad to be able to state to the House that the industry does look so hopeful. The recommendations made to the committee are before the House. They are as follows:

1. That the existing regulations relating to size limit be abolished.

2. That in lieu thereof regulations be adopted and enforced providing that all traps used for the taking of lobsters constructed after 1910 shall have the laths placed not less than 11 inches apart, and that the mesh, when netting is used, be not less than three inches extension measurement; and that com-

Topic:   THE LOBSTER FISHERIES.
Permalink
LIB

John Howard Sinclair

Liberal

Mr. SINCLAIR.

mencing with the year 1911 all existing traps be remodelled by removing a sufficient number of laths nearest the bottom from each side and replacing the same so that the three lower spaces shall be each not less than 11 inches.

3. That any person or firm equipped to the satisfaction of the department, be entitled to a license to pack; that a standard of equipment be aimed at and that existing factories be brought within the regulations as to equipment, within two years from date of the adoption of the new regulations; and that no officer or other person in the employ of the department shall be directly or indirectly interested in any plant or factory operating under license from the government.

4. That the present regulation, imposing a fee on each case of lobsters packed be amended so that commencing in 1911 five dollars be charged on any number of cases up to one hundred, and two dollars for each additional hundred cases or fraction thereof.

5. That more rigid regulations be adopted and strictly enforced providing for the protection of the berried lobster.

6. That an educational campaign be inaugurated and carried on under the direction of the department, among fishermen and packers, with a view of creating a sentiment in favour of observing and enforcing the regulations.

7. That the counties of Charlotte and St. John in the province of New Brunswick be a separate coastal division with a size limit of 4| inches carapace measurement, and that the fishing season in such division be from January 6 to June 29.

8. That having regard to the great importance of the Canadian fisheries with vast interest allied but distinct from the marine, your committee would suggest that due consideration be given to the advisability of having a deputy minister whose duties would be confined to the Fisheries Branch, independent altogether of the Marine Branch.

9. That your committee are of opinion from the evidence produced that the propagation of lobsters by means of pounds and hatcheries, is of special importance to the lobster industry, and would recommend the extension, with as little delay as possible, of this branch of the service.

I may explain, with regard to the exception made in reference to the counties of Charlotte and St. John in the province of New Brunswick, that there is practically no packing carried on in those districts, and that consequently the industry is a live lobster industry.' The market is chiefly in the United States. They are able, where there is no packing to deal with, to get the largest lobsters. You cannot sell a lobster on the Boston market unless it measures nine inches. We therefore thought it was advisable to give Charlotte and St. John a separate limit and to set them apart as a separate district. Objection was taken .yesterday with regard to my motion. It was said that the motion involved an expenditure of money and that It was not properly before the House in the shape in

which I had presented it. In looking into the matter I find that is true. I have therefore decided not to move for the adoption of the report as it would be irregular to do so, although I believe that the report is in a large degree acceptable to the department and that there is no reason excepting a technical one why the House should not adopt it. I have decided, in place of moving for its adoption, to move that the report be referred to the Minister of Marine and Fisheries for consideration. I therefore make that motion.

Topic:   THE LOBSTER FISHERIES.
Permalink
CON

David Henderson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. D. HENDERSON (Halton).

Before this matter is disposed of, I would like to know why, in the corridors upstairs, if so much interest is being taken in this lobster industry, you will find from five to six cords of blue-books on lobster fishins lying from year to year, because I believe that many of these books came over from last year, and I would ask why they are not sent out to the people to read. Has it been an oversight? Do the people down there not take sufficient interest in lobster fishing to make it desirable to send out these books after the country has been at the expense of printing them, for, as the hon. member suggests, possibly the members think they cannot read. I think they are intelligent enough to read and understand these reports, but it seems to me we are wasting a fearful lot of money on this lobster industry, and that the members from that part of the country are not- taking the interest which they ought to in disseminating information with respect to lobster fishing. In the lobbies of this building you will find blue-books on the lobster industry piled up by the cord, five, six or seven cords.

Topic:   THE LOBSTER FISHERIES.
Permalink
LIB

John Howard Sinclair

Liberal

Mr. SINCLAIR.

The department asked for 5,000 copies and I think that many of the books referred to belong to the department. The members have used very many of them. I sent out 1,000 myself to my constituents and I know that other gentlemen have done the same thing so that many thousands have been sent out this winter. They are very valuable to the fishermen and packers along the coast. I can assure the hon. gentleman that they can read, he need not worry about that, they are very intelligent men indeed. It may be that some hon. gentlemen who asked to have the blue-books printed did not send them to their constituents. The members of the committee were asked to say how many they would require in order to send the publication out to their constituents, they sent in their requests and upon this the calculation of the number to be printed was made.

Topic:   THE LOBSTER FISHERIES.
Permalink
CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPROULE.

This is a new departure in dealing with such reports. In the order of references to the old standing committees they were directed to examine into the subject referred to them, to examine persons and send for papers, etc., and then report to the House their observations and recommendations. That was for the information of the House and that information was before the department interested through the minister. Such reports contain much information of value to a department. The proper motion for the hon. gentleman to make in order to discuss this report would be that the report be now taken into consideration. Usually these reports are made to the House and there is no motion for their adoption because such a report (as this one does) may call for the expenditure of money. Numbers four, five, six, eight and nine involve the expenditure of public money and therefore if this House adopted it, it would be an instruction to the government to carry it out and it is not the usual custom to provide for the expenditure of public money in that way. With Tegard to departmental regulations, one, two, three, five, six and seven are recommendations to the department which should be taken cognisance of by the department. Thus, although the hon. member's aim may be a good one, his procedure is a departure from the usual practice and may lead to other irregularities in the future that will be rather confusing than otherwise to the average member of the House.

Topic:   THE LOBSTER FISHERIES.
Permalink
CON

Uriah Wilson

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. U. WILSON.

If these reports were all referred to the joint committee on printing it would lead to the saving of a great deal of unnecessary printing.

Topic:   THE LOBSTER FISHERIES.
Permalink
LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

The object of the hon. member (Mr. Sinclair) I fancy was simply to make a motion which would permit him to present to the House a little more fully than in the report, the reasons_ which led the committee to come to their decision. As one who is very much interested in the subject I want to thank the hon. membeT for Guysborough (Mr. Sinclair) and the other members of this committee for what I regard as the very valuable service they have rendered in the investigation of this subject. Of course a vast territory like Canada has many industries. Many hon. gentlemen here have little or no knowledge of this matter and possibly may hastily assume that the question is not of the utmost importance, but I can assure them, as the hon. member for Guysborough has said, that in a large part of the coast district of Canada this is a matter of great importance affecting the living, the habits, the comfort and the prosperity of a large number of people and therefore, although the session is far advanced, no harm will be done by devoting a few minutes to the discussion of this subject. I must say I regret the determination of the committee to recommend the abolition of the size limit, but I am impressed with the reasons that have

been advanced in support of that view and I am not disposed to find fault. The difficulty in the past has been to enforce the regulations. Whenever we put on the statute-books laws -and regulations running far in advance of public opinion we must expect that there will be difficulty and failure in their enforcement. Unfortunately that has been the case with the lobster regulations. You will meet many men, especially those with access to the American market, who can sell live lobsters at a profitable rate, who are indifferent to the canning industry, who will say that the size limit should be rigidly observed, but as has been pointed out by the hon. member for Guysborough (Mr. Sinclair) it has been perfectly clear that the enforcement -of the size limit, while it may -serve the interests of the fishermen in some particular sections, would destroy the canning industry of the country. I regard the canning industry as one which must gradually be pushed back into the more distant portions of the Dominion. Those portions of our coast that are within easy reach of the American market, and that have convenient methods of transportation both to the American market and the consuming centres of Canada, will find the live lobster trade profitable, and with a constant demand for live lobsters in a district the canning industry must find itself in difficulty and must be pushed back fo_ those sections of the lobster fishing districts where the facilities for transportation are not so good. For the moment the canning industry is preserved by the recommendations of this committee, but every one interested in the canning industry within districts having easy access to the market for live lobsters must look forward to the time_ when that business will be a dying one and perhaps become extinct. One of the most unpleasant features of the situation in the past has been the inequality of the enforcement of the law. One not very well informed may say that that is the fault of the officials-why should they not enforce the law? Sometimes we pass laws that cannot be enforced. Here and there a fishery officer taking a rigid view of his duties would attempt to enforce the regulations. I remember a case of a man interested in a friend who had committed a violation of the laws, who came to me complaining that he had a great grievance. He said his friend had been put in jail for violating the law, I said: was he guilty or innocent? Oh, well, he said, he violated the law, of course. I -said: what are you complaining about? He said: I am complaining because there are hundreds of others all along this coast who are violating the law and nothing is done; I am grumbling because the law is rigidly enforced in this case and not in other cases.

In view of all these circumstances I have reluctantly come to the -conclusion that Mr. FIELDING.

the abolition of the size limit may as well be abolished as it cannot be enforced. There is a small district in New Brunswick, including the counties of Charlotte and St. John, where they are able to enforce not only a size limit, but a very large size limit. There they only take lobsters of very large size; it suits the condition of their market; and the committee have wisely agreed to maintain the regulations in that respect. The purpose of the committee is not to keep up the enforcement of the size limit in the other portions of Canada, which has been found impossible, but to direct the attention of the authorities to the preservation of lobsters in other ways, for instance, in regard to the space between the slats of the traps. I am hopeful that what my hon. friend from Guysborough and his excellent committee recommend will be helpful in that direction. Above all, there should be strict enforcement of the law in regard to taking seed lobsters. In that respect we should have, as the committee recommends, a campaign of education among the fishermen, with the view of getting them to appreciate the importance of the industry, not only to themselves, but to those who come after them; and I would not complain of any severity that might be shown towards a fisherman or a canner who would take what is called a berried lobster. If the law is enforced in that respect and an improvement is brought about in regard to the space between the slats of the traps, I am hopeful that much good may be done. I do not wish to detain the House further than to express my appreciation of the work done by the committee. I belive I was criticised some time -ago for saying that I represented more lobsters than any other man in Canada. I will have to amend that and say I represent a constituency which produces more lobsters than any other constituency in Canada. It is very important industry to the people of that constituency. Without any disparagement of other classes of fishermen, I may say that by reason of the fact that that part of the country is close to the United States, and that they are able to use the American market, they have brought the lobster fishing industry to a more than ordinarily high position. The business is well done and the fishermen use the most modem improvements. In these as in other lines they are introducing gasoline boats. I know that there will be a wide difference of opinion among fishermen in regard to this report; but I hope that the department will be able to carry out the recommendation in regard to starting a campaign of education among the fishermen who will be able to help them to enforce the law. The fishermens' union which has already been referred to, has done good work in educating its members. Much has been done, and there is

room for more to be done. The work of the committee, I am sure, will have a most excellent effect, and as one representing a community largely interested in the matter, I desire to thank the hon. member for Guysborough and the committee for the attention they have given to the subject.

Topic:   THE LOBSTER FISHERIES.
Permalink
CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

I entirely agree in the importance of this question to many parts of the maritime provinces. A great deal of time and attention has been given to the subject by the Committee on Fisheries, and I only trust that the action of the department, coupled with the report of that committee, may result in bringing about better conditions in the lobster fisheries than those which obtain at the present time. The subject is one ef very great difficulty. I have not given to it the same amount of attention that has been bestowed upon it by my hon. friend from Guysborough and the hon. Minister of Finance, although I have given it a good deal of consideration in connection with my own constituency. As far as I understand the problem, it is this; how can you find a course of action which will preserve the lobster fisheries as a great industry, and at the same time do justice to the fishermen and to invested capital in every reasonable respect. I am not prepared to say at the moment how far the recommendations of the committee are likely to bring that about. That is a matter principally for the consideration of the department, which is entrusted with the responsibility of taking such action as is consistent with the two conditions to which I have just alluded; and when I use the term invested capifal, I refer not only to the canners, but to the fishermen themselves, who have a very large proportion of their own capital invested in this great industry, and who are well worthy of every consideration at the hands of this government and this parliament. I would have been glad if my hon. friend from Guysborough, who has made a very illuminating speech, had been able to condense his remarks into a little smaller compass, as the matter must be eventually dealt with by the department, and be brought back to this House for further discussion. I am not aware of the course my hon. friend proposed to take, or I would have put myself in a position to discuss this question more intelligently. Let me say in that regard that it seems to me rather a curious practice for parliament to refer a report to a department. It would seem to me that a department of a government does not need any reference of such a report from this parliament. It is the duty of the department without any reference from parliament to take this report into consideration and to accept executive responsibility with regard to it. I have never heard before of a reference by 261

parliament otherwise than to a committee of parliament. A reference by parliament to a department seems to be something of an innovation. However, if it is thought best by the government and the chairman of the committee that such a motion should pass, I shall not interpose any technical objection. But I do not think that the House should have some notice of motions of this character. I did not know before this morning that my hon. friend proposed to make a motion to refer this report to a department of the government, or I would have looked into the precedents a little. Yesterday my hon. friend proposed a motion for the adoption of the report. I do not know whether that was proper or not. It was held eventually that it would not be proper, for some reason indicated by the Prime Minister yesterday and by the hon. member for Guysborough to-day. I am not prepared to say that outside of that consideration it would have been a proper course to pursue in respect to a report of this kind.

Topic:   THE LOBSTER FISHERIES.
Permalink
LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

It is merely equivalent to a motion that it lie on the table.

Topic:   THE LOBSTER FISHERIES.
Permalink
CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

What I suggest is that if there is to be any motion dealing with a report of this kind, the House should have some notice of what is intended. For example, the Minister of Finance may have known of the motion.

Topic:   THE LOBSTER FISHERIES.
Permalink
LIB

William Stevens Fielding (Minister of Finance and Receiver General)

Liberal

Mr. FIELDING.

Not until a moment ago.

Topic:   THE LOBSTER FISHERIES.
Permalink
CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. R. L. BORDEN.

Does not the Minister of Finance think that he and I and all the other members of this House should have some notice of what the intended motion is? I am not imputing any special blame to the hon. member for Guysborough. He has very properly brought forward a very important subject, and is entitled to credit for having bestowed a great deal of time and industry and attention upon it; but when it is coming up for consideration in this House, I think we should know in advance what is coming. I do not intend at the present moment to raise a question of order. I desire that this matter shall be forwarded in every possible way; but I invite your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the question in relation to the general business of the House, as to whether we should not in the future have some practice established by which we shall know what is coming in respect to reports of this kind.

Topic:   THE LOBSTER FISHERIES.
Permalink
LIB

William Templeman (Minister of Mines; Minister of Inland Revenue)

Liberal

Mr. TEMPLEMAN.

I think the hon. member for Guysborough proposed yesterday to move concurrence in the report.

Exception was taken to that procedure by officers of the House and by the department on the ground that if parliament committed itself to the report it would have to carry out the regulations. Now, the hon.

member for Guysborough (Mr. Sinclair) changed his resolution to avoid that difficulty. I take it, it does not matter very much whether it is a motion to take into consideration the report or to refer it to the minister. My hon. friend (Mr. Sinclair), I suppose, desired to conclude his speech with a motion. Now, in respect to the report, it was laid on the table of the House on Monday, I think, and the departmental officers have had little time to consider it. I had a conversation this morning with the deputy minister, and I was advised that on the whole the report was favourably received by the officers of the department, and that they are prepared to put in force, at all events most of the recommendations. There are several with which they do not agree, but they agree with the most important one, the abolition of the size limit of the lobster. They approve also of the increase of the space between the slats although they would prefer to have the space a little larger. In one or two other respects they slightly disagree. However, that is a matter for consideration and adjustment later. I believe that the recommendations of the committee will be of valuable assistance to the officers of the department in framing regulations protecting the lobster industry during the current year, and in applying them next year, and I am instructed that most of these recommendations can be enforced with the approval of the department, probably all of them.

Topic:   THE LOBSTER FISHERIES.
Permalink
CON

Edward Arthur Lancaster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LANCASTER.

Before the hon. minister leaves that question, I would like him to tell us if his department is pot able to carry out these regulations without being goaded by parliament by a.special vote.

Topic:   THE LOBSTER FISHERIES.
Permalink
LIB

William Templeman (Minister of Mines; Minister of Inland Revenue)

Liberal

Mr. TEMPLEMAN.

The department can frame regulations and carry them out but the department is very pleased indeed to have the recommendation of the committee. The committee have gone to a great deal of trouble. They have called a large number of witnesses, and elicited a great deal of information that will be of great assistance to the officers of the department in enforcing the regulations in future. I have no views to express myself on the regulations; I am not familiar enough with the subject. On the Pacific coast we are trying to plant lobsters, having imported some from the Atlantic coast, and probably in a few years we will have as valuable an industry there as on the Atlantic coast, and if we do get it, we will try to conserve it. I can only say on behalf of the department, that this matter will receive the very earliest and best consideration they can give to it, and in the main, I believe that the recommendations of the committee will be incorporated in the regulations to be enforced next year. . t

Topic:   THE LOBSTER FISHERIES.
Permalink
LIB
CON

Adam Brown Crosby

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CROSBY.

I must say that as a member of that committee, I have been somewhat surprised at the stand taken by the chairman in bringing in this report here. We have heard from the acting Minister of Marine and Fisheries that the department will take this matter into consideration. Now, the Department of Fisheries have had a law standing on the statute-book for years which they have not even attempted to carry out. This committee all last session, and has been sitting all this session, and now we have a report that is practically a report of the department, because we have had all the officers of the department available. We are told that the department must be consulted. The department is for the purpose of carrying out the orders of this parliament. What is a department for but for the purpose of carrying out the orders of this parliament? I am somewhat -surprised, because we are going to be in the same position as we have been in for a number of years. We have had for years a lobster fishery 'law on the statute-book, to carry out which no attempt was made. The only thing that has been carried out has been a monopoly of canning licenses. We have a report by which we propose to do away with that monopoly, and I think it is important that it should be put into effect as soon as possible. I do not see why it should not be put into effect. We have had the officers of the department taking evidence in Ottawa. We sent an officer of the department to New Brtunswick, Quebec, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia last year, and that officer has brought back evidence, and based upon that evidence a report. We have had men, high officials of the department, associated with the committee during the session, and these men know the report from the beginning to the end.

Topic:   THE LOBSTER FISHERIES.
Permalink

April 28, 1910