June 6, 1929

CON

Alexander Duncan McRae

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. McRAE:

I presume, as previously

done, the spawn will be taken from the head waters of the Skeena?

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LIB

Pierre-Joseph-Arthur Cardin (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. CARDIN:

Yes.

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CON

Alexander Duncan McRae

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. McRAE:

I want to protest against

this expenditure, first on behalf of the fishermen on the Skeena river-

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LIB

Pierre-Joseph-Arthur Cardin (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. CARDIN:

I am informed that is the Skeena watershed.

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CON

Alexander Duncan McRae

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. McRAE:

I want, second, to protest

from a national standpoint against the transfer of that spawn. The fact is that the Skeena river is a purely Canadian stream where Canadian fishermen catch 100 per cent of the fish. Any contention there might foe that the head waters of that river are overstocked would not be borne out by the catch there for the last twelve years. In looking over the records I find that for the four years, 1917 to 1920 inclusive, the sockeye catch on the Skeena river averaged 116,000 cases annually ; from 1921 to 1924 inclusive the average catch was 104,000 cases, and since that time the average has been 81,000 cases, or a continual decrease from 116,000 cases prior to 1920 to 81,000 cases annually at the present time. I might observe that as many as 14,-

500,000 spawn were transferred in 1926 and the result of transferring that spawn to the Fraser river is that the fish find their way to the sea through the United States outlet and on their return 70 .per cent of them, and some times more, are caught by United States fishermen. Therefore we are taking this spawn out of a river where 100 per cent of the fish come back to our fisherman and to the business of this country and we are putting it into the Fraser river where only 30 per cent of the fish come back to our fishermen and 70 per cent remain in the United States with their fishermen. That is not a sound business proposition, and it is not sound business to spend $7,000 or $8,000 a year to bring about that change.

There is another matter that I should like to call to the attention of the minister. He says that a new hatchery is being built this year at Anderson lake. That hatchery in 1928 cost $6,856.28 to operate. What do they propose to do with the new hatchery which is to cost $15,000?

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LIB

Pierre-Joseph-Arthur Cardin (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. CARDIN:

We have no hatchery at

Anderson.

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CON

Alexander Duncan McRae

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. McRAE:

I misunderstood the location. Then I should like to ask the minister what is approximately the pack of sockeye salmon this year at Anderson lake and Uchuceslet inlet, which is the entrance to Anderson lake.

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LIB

Pierre-Joseph-Arthur Cardin (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. CARDIN:

I have not that statement

before me at present.

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CON

Alexander Duncan McRae

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. McRAE:

Perhaps I can make a reasonably close guess at it. That stream originally provided as high as 8,000 cases of sockeyes a year. This is very important because it leads up to a matter which I consider of sufficient moment to call to the attention of the committee in connection with our fish culture. Along in 1910, about the year that the hatchery was established, 8,000 cases was the maximum that was packed. The department will correct me if I am wrong as to the year. After the first cycle this fish largely disappeared, and from a river that had provided as many as 8,000 eases there was packed, after the hatchery returns should be in, less than

1,000 cases. Therefore I say that this hatchery has ruined the business at that point.

Much along the same line is the experience at the Naas, another rather important river in our section of the country. I notice that the report shows that 13,488,000 fry were released there in 1924. If in the cycle year, 1928, one per cent of those fry returned, we would have had 134,000 fish. If you take 12 fish to the case, which would be about right, we should have caught in 1928, 11,200 case; of fish. What was the pack last year in the Naas? It was 5,540 cases, showing that if nature did not do a thing, if the fish which ran into that stream did not spawn at all and the hatchery is given credit for eveiy fish that was packed there, the return is less than one-half of one per cent. The country has thrown away millions of dollars on fish culture when the department should have known for at least the last fifteen years, as everybody in the business knows, that we have not got value for our money. The department has spent on fish culture in our province about $2,100,000, and look at the fish we are getting to-day! The pack on the Fraser river, partly for this and partly for other Teasons dropped from 1,000,000 cases to 26,000 last year. The Skeena river has gone off from 116,000 cases to 81,000 annually, and the Naas river is down to the trifle of 5,500 cases this year. At least $2,100,000 has been spent in British Columbia on a system of fish culture which every man in the business in our province has condemned. I have had this matter up with the government before I was a member of this house, and I asked them to investigate

Supply-Marine, and Fisheries

the pond system which has prevailed in the United States with so much success. I do not wish to say anything unkind against the department, but I do believe that the only-reason we have not experimented in a real way with the pond system is because to do so would be for the department to admit that we have been following wrong methods. For fifty-five years we have been spending money in British Columbia for fish culture and our fish have been getting less every year.

I have heard many people speak of this great natural resource. We should be getting in British Columbia $50,000,000 a year from our fish. We have no market problem in connection with our fish because the world wants them and the world takes them. Our problem is to get the fish.

I want to offer to the committee, Mr. Chairman, the experience in the United States with regard to the pond system. I may observe that the treaty now under discussion provides for the pond system. The state of Oregon took up the pond system in 1912. It had been carried on by the United States federal government before that date, but in 1912 the state of Oregon took that work over from the federal government and turned it over to a commission of practical men, not a paid commission, not a commission for disappointed politicians like our harbour boards, but a commission of men who had the interests of their country and the interests of the business at heart. The president of the American Can Company in Portland was president of that commission, and these figures were given to me by him at that time. Consequently I give them to this commission, as being absolutely reliable. That work has been carried on under the jurisdiction of the Oregon game and fish commission, and later, for the last sixteen years, under the Oregon fish commission.

Under this system, the fish are carried in ponds and fed until they are about six or seven months old, and then they are turned out as fingerlings four or four and a half inches long, the idea being that the fish is then able to take care of itself. I submit to the committee that to turn out the small little fry as we are doing is but furnishing food to our trout, because they are not big enough to take care of themselves. That great difficulty was recognized in the state of Oregon in 1912, and since that time, under the propagation methods carried on by this commission, the fisheries of the Columbia river have been largely re-established, and re-established on a very sound basis.

The cost of those fish is rather surprising.

I believe the cost which I have here has been much reduced recently, but the cost at that time of turning out fingerlings was $2.50 to $3 per thousand. It was difficult to get the exact returns, because as you can understand there are always certain fish running in the stream propagating their kind as well. There was however one opportunity to get exact returns and that was in connection with the red sockeye which the commission brought from Alaska and which had never previously been in the Columbia river. They were brought down to the Columbia river and at the end of the four year cycle they jumped back into the hatchery ponds-the identical ponds they had left four years before and 600 cases of them were caught. Some years later 50,000 of them were tagged, and running true to form they came back at the end of their four year cycle. Three thousand of these tagged fish were caught, showing a six per cent return. On that basis the enterprise would be a highly profitable one commercially. No less a man than the president of the American Can Company in Portland has said that he would so regard it.

Now what have been the results? The Columbia river has come back until this year they got some 350,000 cases. The cost of that commission was $118,514.80 in 1928. The industry on the Columbia river is self-supporting and does not cost the country one cent Yet here we are to-day sitting down in this committee and spending about $800,000 in my province for an industry that you are running into the ground.

On the Columbia river there are nine of these hatcheries and they turned out 47,812,136 fingerlings last year. There are seven of these hatcheries in the state of Washington. Washington has followed the example of Oregon and has taken up this work. They have built on the Green river at Auburn on Puget Sound one of the finest pond systems hatcheries in existence, a pond system capable of turning out 10,000,000 fingerlings per year. Altogether they have seventeen of these hatcheries in that state and their costs are very much less than I have quoted for the Columbia river. They figure that if one fish in a thousand comes back, it will pay the cost.

We spent on our hatcheries in British Columbia in 1928, $112,532.65, a little less than the state of Oregon is paying, the only difference being that while it is a waste of money on our part it does not cost the state of Oregon a dollar. The industry there is entirely self-supporting, and so it is in Washington, I understand. I think this country has

Supply-Marine and Fisheries

gone on long enough throwing money away on the present methods of fish culture, and it is about time that we took Stock. If we are going to get any results we must change our methods. All you have to do to be convinced of that is to look at the decrease there has been in our fish production all along the line. I know that the answer which the Fisheries branch makes to that is that they are keeping up the annual value of our fish packs, but what they are actually doing is raking the bottom of all our streams to get the pinks and the dogs, the cheap salmon, which means no profit for the fisherman or the operator. Sockeye are worth on Puget Sound from 80 to 90 cents, and in our country 60 cents; pinks are worth 5 cents and dogs a little more. It is like bundling up the chaff on the prairie and letting your hard wheat go by.

The great handicap under which the province of British Columbia has operated in the past is political interference; there is no doubt about that. But we have passed that stage now because we have nothing more to interfere with. All we can do is to raise a great row because we fear we will soon not get any fish at all. We are rapidly approaching that stage. Stream after stream has gone, and there is no new propagation. Why is it? It is not because the information I am giving you here is not in the possession of the department; of course it is. It is because they are afraid to tackle this business proposition.

I want to make one suggestion to the government-and it may be a very useful one in connection with the sockeye treaty as well. What we want in British Columbia is a fish commission, say, of five members composed of representatives of the fishermen, the cannery men and the business men, because the business men of British Columbia have a deep interest in the restoration of the industry. We do not want a paid commission; you cannot get the proper class of business men to give their services on such a commission for the few thousand dollars that you pay your politicians on the harbour board. We want good capable experienced men on such a commission, for it will be no child's job to run it. If the people of Oregon can bring back their fishing industry to a flourishing condition, as they have, and if the people of the state of Washington see fit to fall in line, surely the people of British Columbia, if entrusted with their own fisheries, can restore the Fraser river and every other stream to their former flourishing condition. Under this pond system the whole industry is capable of great development and instead of the total export value of

our fish being $34,000,000, of which about 50 per cent comes from my province, the value of the British Columbia catch alone would soon be $50,000,000. This would benefit greatly, not only the province but the whole Dominion.

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LIB

Pierre-Joseph-Arthur Cardin (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. CARDIN:

I do not fail, Mr. Chairman, to appreciate the fairness of the suggestion made by the hon. member for North Vancouver. I quite realize that his observations are of a constructive character. I may tell him that we have already started the pond system, but in order to ensure the best results we have instructed the biological board to make a complete investigation. We shall be prepared to follow their recommendations. The observations and the statistics with which the hon. member has favoured us will be looked into with great attention by the officers of my department.

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CON

Alexander Duncan McRae

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. McRAE:

I have this to say about the efforts made by the present department to test the pond system. I believe the system was established in connection with that ill-fated hatchery at Anderson lake. I am informed-I did not see it myself; it is rather a hard climb to get to it-that the water in the ponds was very inactive and the fish were not properly developed. Anybody who has seen one of the modern Oregon pond systems in operation, where the water is very turbulent and the fish are developed the same as they would be in a natural stream, will realize that anything like a still pond is no good.

I have one word to say of the biological board. I do not see any reason on earth why we cannot take the experience which our neighbours to the south have gained during the last twenty-five years. I cannot see why we should wait for the biological board to report. How long is it going .to take them to investigate and decide on a system unless they take advantage of the experience of our neighbours; and if they are going to do that they should have done it years ago. Here we have the biological board starting in at the ground floor. That is the trouble with the board. You cannot talk with a fisherman in our country who has much regard for the work of the board. Our fishermen agree that its members are very fine individually, but they complain that the board do not accept or profit by the information they get from the fishermen who are on the ground. Our fishermen claim that the board are actually endeavouring to propagate fish in streams where, to the man who knows, it is absolutely impracticable to do so, and where the effort is worse than wasted. Let me state one instance with respect to the biological board; it will be sufficient. The board has spent a very considerable sum in an effort to ascer-

Supply-Marine and Fisheries

tain the damage done to fish by hair seals. Why, bless your heart, every fisherman in our country knows that hair seals literally tear his nets to pieces and destroy the fish in it. What we should do is destroy the hair seals. I am going to deal with that later. Our biological board should start out by taking advantage of all that the fishermen know and build up from that.

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CON

Arthur Edward Ross

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. ROSS (Kingston):

This, Mr. Chairman, is a subject that I have been discussing in this house for the last four or five years, but my voice has been as "one in the wilderness." Now I am going to say a word in defence of the biological board. For several years the board has been demonstrating that our fish hatcheries have been in most cases miserable failures. They have proven to the department that the work of taking the finger-lings and fry and depositing them in our lakes and streams has been for the most part wasted effort. During the last four or five years the biological board has been condemned by those officials in the department who had no interest in and could not keep up with scientific research work. For years the biological board has been struggling along without very much sympathy from the department. The result is that one chairman resigned. I am glad to see that now a little light is dawning on the department, and its officials are recognizing the value of the work that -has been done by the biological board. Undoubtedly the board has proven that the stocking of our waters with fingerlings and fry was wasted effort. I know one lake that has been restocked for the last thirty years with fry of one kind and another, and I defy you to find one man who has caught a mature fish in its waters.

For years the biological board has been trying to get the department interested in this work, but no person would listen to its representations. The pond system has been in operation across the border with most successful results. I think the provinces can do more than the federal authorities in this matter. The pond system could be easily established throughout the Dominion if local clubs were organized, as they have been in the States, to look after the fry or fingerlings until they are strong enough to escape the pirate fish. I should not like hon. members to think that the biological board has been behind the times in regard to this work. It has been years in advance with very little encouragement from the department. And I could mention other lines of work in which the board has engaged without any sympathy or backing from the department. I agree that the minister may not have been properly

acquainted with the work of the board, but those in charge of the department should have kept him acquainted with it and stimulated his interest, because it is one of the biggest things that we can undertake in the Dominion, whether we regard it. from the commercial or the sports point of view. Every man remembers when as a boy he went out with a hook and line and had very little difficulty in catching all the fish he desired. But those days are past. Only a vigorous policy by this department can put our streams and lakes in the condition where they should be as fish preserves. It is a scientific subject, fish culture and fish production, and behind it is the study of aquaculture, with which so few are acquainted. These two, fish culture and aquaculture, will give us results if they are prosecuted. I should like to see more cooperation along this line. It does seem to me that we are wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars on this fish culture and the work of the hatcheries. Some of it is good, In connection with salmon we have obtained some results, some good demonstrations; but in central Canada, where we are interested in sport fish, such as bass, very poor results have been obtained from the work of the hatcheries. The field, however, is one for cooperation; it is a scientific field, and I believe that only men with biological knowledge and information will get us anywhere in this work.

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CON

James Charles Brady

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BRADY:

The hon. member for Kingston, speaking in reference to the biological board, has said he has been as "one in the wilderness". I recall, however, that as late as two days or so ago he held the stage, when the estimates for the Department of National Health were before the committee, and he helped considerably a great number of us who are neither doctors nor scientific men. To-night I wish to tell the hon. member that it is not from any personal reason that I am trying to get as much information as possible in regard to this important subject, and when the hon. member for North Vancouver mentions the Naas river I am very anxious to elicit from the minister some information regarding the future of the Sockeye fishery in that great river. I do not agree with the report that appeared in the Vancouver Rrovince about a week ago regarding the hopeless position of that river so far as the sockeye salmon is concerned. I went up there last year, going into the upper stretches, the headwaters of the Naas river, and I have in a little notebook the name of every river that flows into the Naas from Mezziad-sen lake right into that mighty river. I find that every one of those streams has an

Supply-Marine and Fisheries

Indian name which means "Sockeye". In other words, in days gone by, that river was the centre of a great sockeye run. I will not believe any scientific man who tries to prove to me that that river was not originally the home of the great sockeye family of salmon. I wish to ask the minister a question and then I shall discuss this matter further for a few minutes. Has there been an overseer looking over the Naas area in the last twelve months Oir two years?

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LIB

Pierre-Joseph-Arthur Cardin (Minister of Marine and Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. CARDIN:

The position has been

vacant for some time, but the Civil Service Commission is going to appoint an overseer.

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CON

James Charles Brady

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BRADY:

Thank you. Now let us get the facts. Why is it that no overseer will go into the Naas? I know that no overseer will go in because his life is in danger and he is not going to venture among a hostile people at a salary that does not give him a living wage. To whom do I refer? I will tell the minister. On the Naas there are the largest Indian settlements in British Columbia; at Aiyansh, and Gitladamix and right down the whole of the Naas there are large Indan settlements. I went last year to investigate, merely as one desiring to get information, and I was ordered off one of the reserves because the Indians believed I was there for hostile purposes. However, I went" up there after the close season, when the sockeye were running up, and I can assure the minister that they were running up; but at the upper stretches the nets of the Indians were stretched across the river and the sockeye were caught before they reached the spawning grounds. Let me give some figures in connection with sockeye salmon tagged in these waters:

Sockeye Salmon Tagging-Haystack Island, Aug. 3 to 21, 1925

Number tagged 659: returns 135: 20 per cent

Naas river 80

Observatory inlet ]

Portland canal 9

Wark canal 3

Dundas island 1

Skeena river 13

Union passage 1

Alaskan waters 27

Total 135

In other words, to the Naas river went the great proportion of the salmon that were tagged at Haystack island. Yet what do we find? As the hon. member for North Vancouver says, only five thousand cases were obtained last year. I contend-and I am assured in the stand I take in this regard- that if we grapple with the problem in the Naas river and put behind it all the weight 78594-2141

of our strength and power, in five years we shall resuscitate the run of sockeye into the Naas. But I will admit to the minister that he has the biggest problem ahead of him in the Naas of all the rivers in British Columbia. There we find thousands of Indians who are given many privileges, and they overstep those privileges; they are taking a great toll of the sockeye salmon which are endeavouring to reach the spawning grounds. Why should the Indians at the headwaters of the Naas catch sockeye and transport them down the Naas river and sell them at the canneries? Why?-because there is no overseer. An overseer is the one man who must take a great responsibility when he goes there to perform his duty fearlessly and bravely. And you do not find men to do it with such meagre salaries. That is the position on the Naas river. The very word Naas, Mr. Chairman, is itself indicative of "sockeye" for in the Indian dialect it refers to sockeye salmon, just as Aiyansh means "early summer" and "early bloom". I urge the minister to obtain all the information he can in regard to that river, because if he takes courageous action and places two overseers there, one at the mouth and one higher up at the headwaters, he will obtain surprising results. I guarantee that in less than two cycles he will find there will foe not five thousand cases, but many times five thousand.

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UFA

Henry Elvins Spencer

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. SPENCER:

I am interested in what

the hon. member says in regard to sockeye salmon. Were they able to trace all the sockeye salmon tagged?

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CON

James Charles Brady

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BRADY:

No, they were not; out of

639 which were tagged 135 were caught in the various rivers I mentioned, and I believe over 70 per cent of the tagged fish came to British Columbia waters.

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IND
CON

James Charles Brady

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BRADY:

No subject which has come

before this house during the present session is more important, not merely to British Columbia or to the Atlantic seaboard but also to Ontario and the maritime provinces, than this question we are now discussing. I desire to pay tribute to the minister and deputy minister of fisheries; I am afraid I must have worried them this year but I honestly believe they are trying to do the best they can under very adverse and difficult circumstances. However, as a very clever man has said, ignorance of the law is no excuse; I believe there is too much at stake in this matter to pass it

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by lightly. Therefore I do not apologize for having taken up the time of the committee to-day. I have not spoken in the house very often this year, but in this case I did desire to express what I think was constructive and helpful criticism.

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IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

Referring to the remark of

the hon. member for North Vancouver, the hatchery at Anderson lake is in the district I represent, and I would not like the impression left with the committee that the work is a failure or that the superintendent is in any way to blame. I do not think this gentleman votes for me, so I am not boosting a political friend, but I know the superintendent to be a thoroughly capable and an ex-, ceedingly conscientious gentleman who has devoted many years to the prosecution of his duties, and I think he has made a success of his work.

The hon. member for North Vancouver instanced a case where the catch of the cannery immediately ibelow the hatchery suddenly fell off, and he connected up that falling off with the commencement of the hatchery operations. But he missed a cog in his description of the matter. What happened was this: The headquarters of this cannery were in Vancouver; it had been coming along very nicely, getting a moderate catch for a good many years. I forget the size of the catch, but it does not matter whether it was 4,000 or 8,000 cases; the proposition is the same. Then the management passed into the hands of people of the go-getter type and word was sent to the local manager that he must double his pack of sockeye salmon. He replied that it was impossible to do so in justice to the stream, which was small, but he was told that if he did not do so they could get someone who would. So he said he would double the catch and he did so the next year, but that was done by the most barefaced poaching. Perhaps the cannery people would deny that they did any poaching themselves; probably they did not, but they winked at it when it was done by their employees and they bought fish they knew had been poached. The cannery was situated on a bay about three miles long, into which emptied a narrow stream only a few hundred feet- wide, and it would be very easy to put a net across that stream. That was done day and night, and every fish going up to the spawning grounds was caught. That was the reason for the sudden drop in the catch. Then within a year or two the management realized that they had adopted a shortsighted policy; wiser councils prevailed and they decided to adhere strictly to

the law. A capable fisheries guardian was put in, a man who could not be induced to wink at any violation of the laws, and the bay was closed for at least three or four years or possibly longer. The result was that in the course of a few years the bay was reopened and they are now getting a very satisfactory run of sockeye salmon there.

Mr. MoRAE: Does my hon. friend know how many cases they pack?

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June 6, 1929