June 13, 1929

LIB

Hewitt Bostock (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

If there is objection it is well taken.

At one o'clock the house took recess.

The house resumed at three o'clock. SUPPLY

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MARINE AND FISHERIES


The house in committee of supply, Mr. Johnston in the chair.


CON

Alexander Duncan McRae

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. McRAE:

When the committee rose I was discussing the biological board and I intended asking the minister these questions:

How long has the board been established at Nanaimo, and are all the persons whose names are mentioned in the report on the pay roll of the department? The list is quite extensive and I shall refer to it somewhat in detail later, but it would shorten the discussion if we had now a brief explanation as to how these various persons are engaged.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. CARDIN:

The station has been in operation for about twenty years. The board is not paid but t'he staff is.

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CON

Alexander Duncan McRae

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. McRAE:

I have reference to the report of the fisheries branch for 1927-28, which is the last one to hand, and on page 110 of which there .appear a large number of names of persons who a,re making investigations and research. I should like to know whether these persons are all in the employ of t'he department on regular salary or, if not, how they are paid.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. CARDIN:

The station provides facilities for those who wish to make experiments, but these persons are not paid by the department, although their results are available to us. These people are carrying on investigations but are not paid by us.

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CON

Alexander Duncan McRae

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. McRAE:

It seems rather unusual that in the departmental report the department should take credit for the work of so many persons whom they do not pay. These people are not really in the employ of the department. Will the minister tell me how many persons are employed by the department at Nanaimo?

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. CARDIN:

We pay the following

salaries: director, $3,600; captain of boat, $1,800; engineer, $1,560; secretary, $900; cook, $300; maid, $420; caretaker, $900; assistant caretaker, $840. These are the only employees whom we take.

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CON

Alexander Duncan McRae

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. McRAE:

I have been particularly concerned about the work of the biological board inasmuch as it bears on the sockeye salmon situation in our province. I have gone over the report very carefully and I must say I appreciate the remarks of the hon. member for Skeena, regarding the technical terms which he used so freely this morning. But to me at least this report is net very clear. In this respect I aim sure if would be interesting to know just bow the fiishermen regard the lectures which the board give them on different occasions. I may say that they are sceptical of the practical importance of this biological work; they feel that the work of the board is entirely too theoretical and technical and that not sufficient time is given

Supply-Marine and Fisheries

to the practical phase of the filing situation in our province. They are of the opinion that the investigations of the board are too abstract and academic: to use the expression of the fishermen themselves, you cannot put this knowledge into the can. The particular claim which the fishermen make is that there are too many desk men, what we might call office men, being sent into the field to inquire about matters which responsible fishermen have known for a very long time. I referred the other day to the inquiry into sea lions, when as a matter of fact what should be inquired into is the problem how to destroy the sea lions which are eating up our fish. The fishermen claim that investigators from the board try experiments in artificial planting in areas where hatchery fish would not have the slightest chance owing to freshets on the one hand or where streams dry up. The board officials have net the necessary knowledge and, the fishermen claim, errors are made which could be avoided if practical fishermen were consulted. I mention this matter in order to convey to the minister the idea that the board is not nearly as practical as it should be. I know that these long names which are referred to in the reports of the research department-such terms for instance as protozoa-diatoms copepods and zooplankton, and all that sort of thing-are all right in their place. They refer to the very lowest and microscopic forms of animal life in existence, some that cannot be seen with the naked eye.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. CARDIN:

What big names.

Mr. MicRAE: Yes I am afraid the sockeye salmon will be in that Class soon. If we cannot get some practical work done by this biological board we will not be able to see the sockeye salmon, not on account of its size but om account of its extinction. I notice that among other things mentioned in the report is an investigation of the life history of the teredo, to which the hon. member for Skeena referred. We all know enough about the life history of the teredo; it lives too long to please us and what we want is some preparation which will prevent the teredo from doing so much harm. We have succeeded now in finding -that method in part through creosoting.

As you read the report the thing that impresses you very much is the small consideration which has been given to the reestablishment of our fisheries; in fact you will find only one reference to it in this research work, and that is the study of salmon scales for the provincial government. That is rather an absurd reference.

I think the department would be well advised to cut out those things in future reports. The report is supposed to be read by members who, like myself, do not follow it very closely, and I suggest that if it were confined to practical matters and written in common trade terms which we can all understand, the government would be saved a lot of printing expense and the members of this house would have more information than they obtain from this report at present.

With regard to field investigations, there again the findings of the board do not deal with salmon. Coming to the heading " Publicity," and as far as I can see that is confined to two small aquariums which are being established at Nanaimo. I submit that if we are going to establish any of these aquariums for the education of the public they should be located in the papulous centres where more people will see them and more good will be done. I have no doubt that these aquariums would be more advantageously located in Vancouver or Victoria than in Nanaimo, where very few people go and where there are very few fishermen. Nanaimo is a coal town and there are no fishermen there except a few Japanese who fish for herring and that sort of thing. Why we should put this biological board in Nanaimo is not clear to me, particularly as it appears from these reports that the beard has an educational duty to perform. I notice they are to build a museum in Prince Rupert; I fear that we have about reached that stage of the fisheries problem in our province where museums will 'be necessary ia order to display the last specimens of that great commercial fish, the sockeye salmon. As far as I can see there is no other useful purpose to be served by these museums and there is no reason why the public money should be spent in this way while we have a real, fish problem to work out.

I have given the views of the fishermen and now I want to give the views of the cannery men, who say there is certainly great room for biological work in the fish business, and that perhaps the reason why this board had not done very much was because they had not much money. Just here I might say that the United States authorities reported a year or two ago that the work done by this biological board was very good, but that it was very meagre. The business interests in my province have expressed the opinion that there is great need for a biological board but that this board is not devoting very much consideration to the practical issues with which we are confronted.

Supply-Marine and Fisheries

Now I want to refer to the question of fish culture, with which this vote has to do.

There is very little space devoted in the report to the culture of sockeye salmon; some seven or eight lines on page 15 constitutes the only reference. In passing I want to observe that this branch of the service turned out about 105,000,000 fry in 1927-28, which cost us $112,562.35, an average of roughly $1.15 per thousand. This figure is materially higher than what the state of Washington claim it costs them to turn out fingerlings four or five inches long and six or seven months old under the pond system.

I mention this fact to show that it is not a matter of cost with regard to this kind of propagation but rather a question cf courage on the part of our department to get that work under way.

Our investigations have been going on ever since the branch was established in British Columbia forty-five years ago; I presume we have been investigating sockeye salmon since that time. They are the greatest commercial fish we have and they present a teal problem which we must solve. I discussed this matter the other day at some length, and the minister stated in reply that the biological board had been instructed to make a complete investigation and that the department was prepared to follow the recommendations of that board. I must say to the committee that this promises no solution of our problem at all. I do not say that the men who compose that biological board have not the ability to make this investigation if they were so directed. I submit that this board now has been in operation for a great many years, and apparently they are not making any investigation whatever with regard to the rehabilitation of the sockeye salmon fisheries, which the department has said will mount up to at least $35,000,000 a year. There is time enough to get down to theory and theoretical matters later, but I say that before we proceed with the expenditure of the amount of money covered by this vote we should have some further assurance than has been given so far that this increase is necessary. It is not my intention to offer a motion but I do suggest that if we vote $200,100 this year it is enough. I suggest that the minister postpone these additional expenditures and reduce this vote to what it was last year. I think that is a reasonable request until such time as the minister can give us some information to show the effectiveness of this board.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. CARDIN:

I am informed by the

deputy that the board has been looking into 78594-234

the sockeye salmon question for four years and that they have complete equipment at Cultus lake.

There is another point upon which I am in a position to agree with my hon. friend. He complains that the report is somewhat technical and not. in plain language. I quite agree with him and I will ask the officers of the department to try to make the report more comprehensible to the ordinary man who does not understand the scientific and technical words which are used by members of the biological board.

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CON

Alexander Duncan McRae

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. McRAE:

Reference has been made by the minister to the cultural work which is being done at Cultus lake in British Columbia, and this information will be found on pages 117 and 118 of the report of 1927-28. This is one of the smallest hatcheries we have in British Columbia, and in 1927-28 the expenditure was only $4,819.05. It is only necessary for any member of the committee to read these pages to realize what a feeble effort is made in studying the culture of sockeye salmon. Very few fish are released from this hatchery, and, as stated in the report, during some years none at all return. About 70 per cent of the fish must be accounted for and returns by the canneries in Puget sound south of the line, and I leave it to the committee to say just how valuable that information is. That is not even playing with the thing and it is making no effort whatever to solve this problem. Mr. Minister, this headless department of yours will have to get a move on if anything effective is to be done for the sockeye salmon industry.

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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

May I ask the hon. gentleman a question? I am intensely interested in the subject which he has been discussing and I am very sympathetic to the proposal he has made with respect to the sockeye salmon fishing industry. I have been out to the coast and studied this matter a little, but I am at a complete loss to know just what the hon. member is proposing.

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CON

Alexander Duncan McRae

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. McRAE:

I take it that the hon.

member was not in the house the other day when I made a definite proposal, but I will be glad to repeat it. The Department of Marine and Fisheries, constituted as it is under governments as they must be formed, cannot grasp the situation in British, Columbia. In my talk the other day I suggested that the government should appoint a British Columbia fish commission, to be composed of representatives of the fishermen, of the canneries, and of the business interests in the province, who understand this problem.

3696 COMMONS

Supply-Marine and Fisheries

These men are deeply interested in this matter and would be only too pleased to give their services gratis to their country to bring about the reestablishment of their salmon industry which has been diminishing so rapidly.

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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

That is all very well, but I do not know how it would get us very far; I do not see that it is any better than the suggestion of the minister, although I do not see that he is getting us anywhere either. So far as I understand the situation the difficulty has been the depletion of the sockeye run, partly as a result of conditions in the Fraser river itself and chiefly as a result of American trapping. With all due respect to the hon. gentleman, I do not see how that question can be solved other than by the making of an international agreement. If we could secure an international agreement to limit the catch for some years, thus allowing a gerater number of mature fish to go up the river to spawn, I think the industry would find itself rehabilitated much quicker than it would be by the appointment of a commission. It is not commissions that we want, we want a return flow of the fish into the streams. I am only a layman on this subject; I am not a fisherman myself, but for the life of me I cannot understand how the Cultus lake hatchery is going to be responsible for the great increase in the vote this year. I do not think the minister can be serious when he suggests that reason. I have seen that hatchery myself, and I presume that some work is being done at Cultus lake and some at Chilliwack river.

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LIB

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

Liberal

Mr. CARDIN:

The hatchery at Cultus

lake is for experimental purposes.

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UFA

Edward Joseph Garland

United Farmers of Alberta

Mr. GARLAND (Bow River):

I agree

with the hon. member for North Vancouver;

I think this vote is out of all reason. Until there is a more definite program laid before this committee, we might return to the old amount. The hon. member is from that part of the country and he knows the requirements out there; he suggested to the minister that this item be reduced to the original amount of $200,000, and in the absence of a more reasonable explanation from the minister I am afraid that I must agree with the hon. member. As to the rehabilitation of the sockeye salmon industry, I think the minister will have to find some way of getting an international agreement on that. Let us get more of the salmon up the stream and we will solve the problem.

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CON

Alexander Duncan McRae

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. McRAE:

I quite agree with the hon. gentleman as far as the Fraser river is concerned, but that is only one of the several

[Mr MoRae.]

great streams in our province, in all of which the fish are being depleted. By appointing this British Columbia fish commission the government would be getting the experience of directors who could not be hired for nominal salaries, men who would be prepared to give their time to the development of this great industry. I am led to make that statement by what has happened in regard to the Columbia river. They have a nonpolitical body of citizens in Oregon who have done great work in the reestablishment of the fisheries on that great river. I am confident that the commission I am suggesting would do for our fishing industry in British Columbia what a similar commission has done in the state of Oregon.

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CON

June 13, 1929