Have we obtained any results so far from the work that has been done? I presume the commission has been investigating the life history of the Pacific halibut during the four years the commission has been in existence. But is it a fact that notwitstanding the existence of the commission, the halibut fishing has been very greatly depleted and that there is grave fear that the halibut grounds will be barren in a comparatively short time? I assume the minister has read the last report of the commission. If he has, no doubt he has seen there a statement by the commission that this fishery is in a very precarious condition. What benefit is Canada receiving from the expenditure which is being made every year on account of this commission?
According to the treaty, a commission was to be formed to investigate the conditions of the halibut fishery. Everyone
Supply-Marina and Fisheries
will realize that it takes some time to make the necessary investigation in a matter of that kind. Under article 3 of the treaty the commission is to conduct investigations, make a report and afterwards suggest regulations to be adopted with a view of building up the industry and ensuring to the two countries the advantages which they should derive from such an important industry.
But surely the commission must know that there are at present some real grounds for making recommendations; that there should be no delay in regulating the catching of the small halibut, the baby halibut as they call them. I can remember the time when it was unlawful to catch halibut which weighed less than 25 pounds. I do not know whether that is still the law or not, but my information is that the small halibut are being caught and the banks thus being depleted. The fishermen have been forced to go out further to sea; the fish have been driven away from the fishing grounds by reason of the over-fishing that is taking place, and there is a scarcity of halibut. If this condition continues it is only a question of time when there will be no halibut at all. Some action is required immediately. I do not believe in this policy of waiting, waiting, which has been followed in the case of other species of fish. I was told at one time in the marine and fisheries committee that the biological board was investigating the sockeye salmon on the Fraser river, and that it would some day make a report. I asked when we might expect that report, and the reply was: *"In ten years or so." Must we wait ten or twenty years, until the halibut fishing is extinct, before we get a report from the international commission? We are either throwing away our money or should expect some results from the work of the commission. I should like to know from the minister what results we are getting, and what results we may [DOT]expect.
The recommendations will be found at page 9 of the report, which has been tabled and is available to members of the house. The recommendations are as follows:
1. (a) To establish areas, within each of which, if deemed necessary for the preservation of the fishery there, the total catch of halibut may be reduced by a predetermined percentage annually, commencing not less than one year after the putting into force of this recommendation, until the fishery therein shall reach a state of stability of yield.
(b) To determine upon the amount of this percentage reduction, and to revise the same from time to time as may be found necessary, the intent being to restrain any increase in the amount of fishing within such area.
2. To close permanently to all fishing the two areas herewith defined, and known to be populated by small immature halibut, and to close such other grounds as may be found by the commission to be populated by a similar class of fish.
3. To prevent the use of any fishing gear deemed unduly destructive.
4. To extend the present closed season by two weeks at its beginning, making the closure for all fishing in all areas from November 1 to February 15, both dates inclusive, and to facilitate future alterations in the length of close season.
5. To license all vessels fishing for halibut in treaty waters, under such terms as are necessary for the purpose of the treaty, including statistical returns, and for clearance to regulated waters.