January 25, 1937

IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

The years 1935 and 1936 as compared with 1933 and 1934, the two years after the traps had been abandoned as compared with the last two years during which they were in operation. Some years ago a petition was drawn up, signed by 1,506 fishermen and presented to the government of the day, asking for the abolition of traps. The government refused owing to the situation that I have outlined and which has now ceased to exist. And that is my argument. Then I have resolutions passed by the Kyuquot Trailers' Cooperative Association, one passed in June, 1935, at their annual meeting and one passed this last year. This is a very fine, energetic cooperative body, having 288 members, all owning their own boats and gear. I read the second resolution:

Whereas the salmon traps are the most destructive fishing gear in use, by intercepting the entire shoal of salmon, not ensuring a proper escapement for spawning, and by destroying immature and yearling salmon, bottom fish and any species of fish that may run foul of their leads;

And whereas a trap licence is an exclusive privilege to fish a certain location twenty-four hours a day;

And whereas other types of gear are licensed to fish in waters open to all, and with frequent closed periods for conservationary purposes;

And whereas the district of Sooke where the only traps in British Columbia now are located would afford ideal fishing grounds for seiners, thus increasing employment;

And whereas all Puget Sound, Washington traps are now eliminated;

Be it therefore resolved that all salmon traps be completely eliminated.

Salmon Trap Nets-Mr. Neill

I have a similar resolution passed by the Pacific Coast Fishermen's Union, British Columbia section. They have a local m Vancouver numbering, they say, 800 fishermen, and they have locals up the east coast of the island as well. They take the same line, and I shall not repeat that portion; it is practically the same.' They point out that the traps were taken out by the Americans for purpose of conserving the sockeye run, so why are they allowed to operate in British Columbia waters? A hard question to answer. And they say that if the traps are made legal again in Washington it will work a hardship on both Washington and British Columbia fishermen. Then they deal with employment. They say:

At present the operation of traps on the west coast of Vancouver Island employs about forty workers. . .There are no fishermen operating in the immediate area of Sooke, where the traps are located, owing to their being unable to market their fish to the company owning the traps, who will not buy any fish from an individual fisherman, as they can get the fish from the trap much cheaper. At the present time if the traps were not operating there would be ample fish caught by fishermen to supply at least two hundred fishermen with a decent livelihood and a fair return for their work and capital investment for the year round, instead of having a few that are seasonally employed as now.

Concerning conservation they say:

Owing to the peculiar make-up of a trap net, all sizes and species of fish are caught, from the smallest to the largest. As the canners are only interested in the salmon for canning, it is a fact that many scowloads of ground fish, herring and pilchard are taken from the trap each year and are killed in the operation of cleaning the trap. This is the case with young salmon that are too small to be canned, and all these fish are taken to deep water and dumped. This in our opinion is wanton and useless waste of our natural resources.

For these reasons they ask that fish traps be abolished. And of course I have others, I am only giving illustrations.

This is our last chance. The legislature of Washington state is now sitting and there is active propaganda of the most intensive character being waged there to have fish traps again allowed. It is inevitable that that law will be repealed and the traps allowed again if we do not let it be known very shortly that we are going to meet them half-way and play the game. Half-way is a ridiculous statement, considering that we would be cutting out four traps this year, five last year on our side, and 219 were done away with on the American side. We are only asked to do the same as they are doing. We have so much to gain and so little to lose by meeting them. Pressure is being brought to bear on that

[Mr. Neill. 1

legislature, according to my information, and the strongest argument they can bring is that they made a gesture to Canada and Canada has not responded. It is not a breach of treaty; there was no bargain; it was just a gesture, but we have not responded. We recall other cases where nations made a gesture, in the way of reciprocity in tariffs or disarmament, and when the other party to whom the olive branch was held out did not respond it always resulted in resentment and in the nation making the original gesture going back to conditions more drastic than before. And so it will be here.

Another point. We are negotiating now and have been for years to make a reciprocity deal with the Americans in regard to the Fraser river, to take joint action along certain lines for the conservation of the fish. There are firebrands on both sides of the line, people who for their personal advantage are quick to make use of any passing prejudice. There are men on the other side of the line who will be quick to use this argument and say: They threw us down about the traps at Sooke; we can't trust perfidious Albion; do not make a treaty as regards the Fraser. It certainly would have a bad effect in respect to that. If we fail to act in this matter now, and the Washington legislature repeal their legislation, the blame will rest on this government or on this house.

There is one thing more, and I commend it to the notice of the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Mackenzie), who is British Columbia's representative in the cabinet and responsible to us in British Columbia for the cabinet. I tell him this: if we allow these traps at Sooke to be continued in spite of the fact that the Americans have done away with the traps on their side-and they were allowed only because of the traps on the American side -if we do not follow suit, if we allow the traps to stay there, in logic and reason we cannot refuse traps all over British Columbia. I have letters and correspondence and resolutions from the canners' association, asking to be allowed to have traps all over British Columbia. The government is not now in a position to say: We will draw the line and forbid traps all over except at Sooke, but will allow them at Sooke alone; because now there is no justification or excuse for having them at Sooke. Therefore if we continue to allow them at Sooke we will be asked to allow them all over British Columbia. If we do that it is not a question of throwing a few men out of employment, a dozen or a score or a hundred; it is a question of 11.000 men, because the whole fishing industry will then be carried on by means of traps. This is the

Salmon Trap Nets-Mr. Stevens

point to which I want to direct the attention of the Minister of Defence. With the shadow of war hanging over us, as it is today and all the time, in the east and elsewhere, the minister will surely take a little comfort from the fact that he has on that Pacific coast, fronting the far east, a comparatively large number of fishermen who are loyal to Canada and who are familiar with every bay and headland in that area. They know where every rock is, every bar-bars of gravel or sand I mean; possibly they know of the other kind too. Their local knowledge is invaluable. They know where to put mines; they know how to aid our warships or obstruct those of the enemy. If this thing goes through and traps are allowed all over, those men are put out of business, and you cannot bring them back in a day or a month. What does the poet say?-

*-a bold peasantry, their country's pride,

When once destroyed, can never be supplied.

When our day of tribulation comes it will be too late to say: We wish we had treated these fishermen in such a way that they could have maintained their position and usefulness in case of need. If we surrender to this demand for traps, and these men are wiped out, you cannot get much loyalty from a trap built of piles and wire netting. In time of war a fish trap is not of much use as a weapon either of offense or of defence. To some it may seem that I am exaggerating, or trying to be melodramatic, but it is not so. We who live on the Pacific coast know how familiar with our shores are certain powers fronting on the Pacific, and we know how desirable and urgent it is to maintain a white front line on that ocean. Therefore I urge the government, for these and many other reasons which I could mention if time permitted, to make a pronouncement immediately so that it may have its effect on the legislature sitting in Washington state and induce them to continue their ban on traps.

As I have said, we have everything to gain and so little to lose. A few men will be put out of work, yes; thirty or forty men will be put out of work, but hundreds and hundreds will get work instead. The fish must be caught; they will not be allowed to run away. Other lines of fishing will take the place of this. It will be argued, I know, and I may as well anticipate it, that there is a cannery at that point which exists solely through this type of fishing, and which would go out of existence if the traps were taken away. That is rather a curious thing. They have a privilege which is denied to every other cannery. There are some forty-eight

canneries operating in British Columbia; forty-seven of them can exist without traps, but one, and one alone, says that it will go down to ruin and financial destruction if it is not permitted to retain this privilege which it has enjoyed for so many years, in fact since 1904. Is that not about long enough to have a privilege? I will admit that the argument might have been sound that since the fish were going to be taken on the American side in any case they might as well be taken on our side, but that argument does not exist any longer. Therefore it is up to us to adhere to the working fishermen, the white fishermen, rather than to a steel trap.

Topic:   SALMON TRAP NETS
Subtopic:   DESIRABILITY OF DISCONTINUING ISSUE OF LICENCES IN BRITISH COLUMBIA WATERS
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REC

Henry Herbert Stevens

Reconstruction

Hon. H. H. STEVENS (Kootenay East):

Mr. Speaker, with very much that has been said by the hon. member who has just taken his seat (Mr. Neill) I am in hearty accord, but I think it would be unfortunate if the decision of the house were to be based upon the case as presented by the hon. member for Comox-Alberni. One or two points made by the hon. member, I think, should be elucidated a little further.

For instance, the hon. member undoubtedly left the impression that traps operated in competition with the trollers. He repeatedly stated that it would take two hundred trollers operating with their boats to catch a similar number of fish, but he very unfortunately- I will put it mildly-avoided saying that trollers do not catch the same kind of fish that are caught in traps. The traps catch very largely the fish that school, the sockeye, the humpback and the pinks, whereas the trollers catch the spring salmon, chiefly steel-heads and a very limited number of types that will take a bait. The sockeye salmon will not take a bait, nor will the pinks, so that these traps do not affect the trollers in that respect, that is, the traps to which the hon. member has reference, near Sooke on the west coast of Vancouver island.

Another point to keep in mind is that the discussion of 1929, to which the hon. member has referred, was in connection with the proposed introduction of traps in northern British Columbia. The subject was keenly debated at the time, and many of us took the ground that it would be perhaps unfortunate if a general policy of traps were adopted in northern British Columbia, though I am bound to say that in one or two locations, where the geographical or physical conditions were of a certain type, there was some justification for the use of traps. But that issue has been disposed of. Then we come down to the Fraser river run, which for many years has

Salmon Trap Nets-Mr. Stevens

been the subject of a great deal of discussion. There is no question as to the accuracy of the hon. member's observations when he says that the large number of American traps, located as they were in the shoals along the shore immediately south of the mouth of the Fraser river, did contribute very seriously to the depletion of the fisheries of that river. Another thing we should bear in mind, however, is that the agitation a few years ago for traps in that area was for traps on the Canadian side close to the location of the American traps, and again I say that as far as that is concerned I am in entire accord with the hon. member.

I was under the impression that there was only one trap at the point to which my hon. friend has referred. The hon. gentleman says there are four. That is something that can be ascertained without difficulty; no doubt the minister will be able to say just how many traps there are. As I say, it was my impression that there was only one, operated by one of the oldest fish packing companies in British Columbia, the Todd Fisheries, on the west coast of Vancouver island, that is, in the straits and in the lower part of the west coast, a very long distance indeed from the mouth of the Fraser river. This cannery is so located that there is virtually no other type of fishing that could be resorted to in order to serve it, in that isolated spot. I assume there is the possibility of using purse seines, but my hon. friend has been just as vigorous in his denunciation of purse seines as he has been of traps, and again to a certain extent I agree with what he has said. But I think in all these matters we must look at the situation taking into consideration all the factors that are involved. If this trap, or these few traps, located at this particular place, constituted a distinct menace to the continuity of the fisheries of the Fraser river, I should not hesitate a moment to urge their withdrawal, but I am not at all persuaded that such is the case. On the other hand, as the hon. gentleman admitted, this form of fishing at this particular location has been in vogue for nearly fort}' years, and it is a drastic proceeding to come forward now and suggest that, because we favour the general policy, in this particular instance we should deny the company the right to operate these traps or this trap, as the case may be.

Reference has been made to Alaska, and here again, I find myself largely in accord with what the hon. member has said. It is quite true that the institution of traps became a menace to the fisheries of Alaska, but there it was a case of the wholesale construction

of traps. Some four hundred of these great traps were in operation in Alaskan waters. I frankly admit that such a wholesale operation did constitute a menace to the fisheries. I share my hon. friend's views in regard to Mr. O'Malley, one of the most outstanding authorities on salmon and other fisheries on this continent for many years. Mr. O'Malley took a stand against these traps, but only in the latter days of his long term of administration. In the earlier years he did not recognize the menace, and did not do so until the multiplicity of traps, to the extent of some four hundred, had become a very serious menace. Later his successor did much to eliminate many of the traps, although I am under the impression that some two hundred are still operating in Alaskan waters.

The hon. gentlemen has stressed the international point, and I think perhaps that is the one part of his address that merits very careful consideration. I would suggest to the minister lhat all the facts of the case might be very carefully studied, and if one operation of this kind constitutes a threat of international discord, naturally the government must take it into consideration. But I cannot conceive of that being the case. I would not want the house to get the idea that this is a case of introducing a wedge. This operation has been carried on for forty years and it is necessary for the successful working of the cannery. The company operating this cannery is one of the oldest, one of the most reputable and in every sense one of the most admirable concerns in the province. I do not think there is anyone, no matter what his prejudices may be, who can make any criticism of the Todd company. It is controlled by an old established family in British Columbia, which has operated this business from early pioneering days down to the present time in a very humane and decent manner. I am quite confident it will be found, to use a colloquialism, that the relations of this company with labour are as sweet as those of any other company.

There does not seem to be any real argument for the elimination of the trap in this particular case. Before the minister or the government makes a final decision I would suggest that the matter be calmly and fairly considered. In order that there may be no misunderstanding, may I say that I am strongly opposed to the adoption of trap fishing in a wholesale way or the issuing of permits for new traps in other areas. I endorse the views of the hon. member in that respect, but I cannot agree with him when he applies a general discussion to an individual and particular case.

Salmon Trap Nets-Mr. Reid

Topic:   SALMON TRAP NETS
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LIB

Thomas Reid

Liberal

Mr. THOMAS REID (New Westminster):

Mr. Speaker, as seconder of the motion before the house I feel it incumbent upon me to say a few words in support of the resolution introduced by the hon. member for Comox-Alberni (Mr. Neill). The hon. member has covered the matter so well that very little remains to be said, but there are one or two points which I think should be emphasized still further.

First of all, I should like to reply to the hon. member for Kootenay East (Mr. Stevens). The hon. member stated that if he was convinced that the abolition of traps would help the fishing industry along the Fraser river, he would be in favour of their abolition. However, I think the gist of his remarks was to the effect that he could not depend upon what had been said in the house this afternoon to convince him that abolition of traps would help the industry. Whether he is willing to take the word of the member for New Westminster I do not know, but let me assure him, as one who has made a considerable study of the matter during the past year, that _ the operation of traps is taking away the livelihood of our fishermen. I have been told that this is a fact and by every fisherman with whom I have discussed the matter, either publicly or privately.

It is true that traps were in operation for many years by American interests in the Puget sound, but we on the Canadian side have always advocated the abolition of all tiaps, both on the American and Canadian sides. Since traps have been abolished by the American interests there has been a noticeable increase in the catches of all varieties of fish by the Fraser river fishermen. Those of us who have given any study at all to the matter know full well that the traps catch not only sockeye salmon but every other variety of fish that happens to enter the trap. I do not think the minister will dispute the fact that the trap at Sooke and those formerly across the line catch all varieties of fish. Mlany immature fish are taken in these traps, which are either placed on the market in some form or other or taken out and destroyed.

Like the hon. member for Comox-Alberni,

I should like to see this matter referred to the fisheries committee for discussion. I realize that it is not possible to go into every detail and aspect of the situation at this time, but I think the whole situation could be covered succinctly under three headings: first, the conservation of fish; second, the greatest good to tihe greatest number. In these days we are looking for increased employment and this cannot be achieved by maintaining the

trap at Sooke to which the hon. member referred. I do not think we should follow the Japanese method. Japan has had no thought at all of the conservation of fish and their fishing banks along their coasts have been almost entirely depleted. They went into fishing in a ruthless manner and paid no attention whatever to the manner of catching or different ways of conserving the fish. Their one thought was for profits. I am not unmindful of what the hon. member for Kootenay East has said with reference to the particular firm that has been referred to. He tells us that it would be bad to do anything against this very reliable firm, which has been in existence for some forty years, but I would rather have heard him stress the conservation of fish and the employment of greater numbers of our fishermen. If it was thought desirable, I could place on record figures to prove the statements I have just made.

I should like to say one word with reference to something that took place last year which very much pleased the fishing industry in British Columbia as a whole-and I do this without the consent of the minister. In 1936 the minister was good enough to pay a visit to British Columbia with the object of looking into our fisheries and obtaining first hand information thereon. I think the minister has seen more of British Columbia than any other cabinet member has seen of it since confederation. It was my privilege to be with him at that time. We travelled some 1,400 miles by water, and the minister was always eager to see everything that could be seen in the time at his disposal.

It was our privilege to visit one of the traps in Alaska, located at Hidden inlet. This trap is operated by American interests, and at the time we visited it there were between

7.000 and 8,000 sockeye salmon in the trap. We witnessed the bailing or brailing out of the fish, as they call it. A boat brought a scow alongside which already contained about

60.000 sockeye salmon and into which these additional 7,000 were put. I should like to relate to the house a little incident which occurred in connection with this trap. The trap was located a considerable distance from shore and two employees of the company were set to guard it. The manager told us that they were forced to keep a patrol boat in operation to watch the men. That seemed rather strange, but he told us that as the fish were caught in such large numbers, if the two guards were not watched an attempt might be made to bribe them. He stated that it would be possible for a boat to draw alongside and take two or three thousand fish from the trap and they would not be missed at all. After

226 COMMONS

Salmon Trap Nets-Mr. MacNeil

some years experience they had come to the conclusion that it was harder to bribe four men than it was to bribe two. I think this illustrates also the fact that great numbers of fish are caught in traps. We in British Columbia were more than pleased with the minister's visit, and he deserves to be highly complimented upon the extensive and exhaustive study he made of the Pacific coast fisheries in 1936. I feel sure he is just as fully aware as any of us of just what the traps mean to the fisheries of the Pacific coast.

I repeat, Mr. Speaker, that I should like to see this matter placed before the committee on fisheries where many aspects and details of the question could be gone into which have not been fully touched on here and which perhaps could not be very well discussed on the floor of the house. I also support what the hon. member for Comox-Alberni has stated, that it would certainly lend weight to the arguments which could be used across the line as they can now say: The Canadians are using traps now, and we are not.

A strange state of affairs existed last year as a result of the abolition of the traps in United States waters. As is well known, there was a conflict of interests between the seine fishermen and those controlling the traps, and it was partly the agitation of the seine fishermen, I believe, that brought about the abolition of the traps in United States waters, they believing that if the traps were eliminated the seine boats would catch more fish. Last year, however, the seine boats were practically idle; the traps were not in operation, and the seine-boat men discovered that the poor results were due to the schooling up of the fish, their attention being diverted from their true course by the traps, which was what enabled the seine boat owners to catch the number of fish they did. There might well come now an agitation from the seine-boat men to replace the traps in United States waters, and we do not want them to be able to use the argument: The Canadians

are using traps, and we are not. In the interests of the conservation of fish, not only sockeye but all varieties, in the interests of the greatest good to the greatest number, and for the well-being and welfare of our whole cannery industry, I am certainly in hearty accord with the motion that has been introduced by the hon. member for Comox-Alberni, and I trust that the last trap fishing will be done away with.

Topic:   SALMON TRAP NETS
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CCF

Charles Grant MacNeil

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. C. G. MacNEIL (Vancouver North):

Mr. Speaker, I merely wish to indicate my support of the resolution introduced by the hon. member for Comox-Alberni (Mr. Neill).

My remarks will be based on representations made to me by practically every organization of fishermen with which I have had contact, and on the expert observations of those who have studied the habits of fish and know the needs of the fishing industry in British Columbia, all of whom seem to be in unanimous support of the purpose of this resolution.

Some time ago it was indicated that the minister intended to issue no further licences for trap fishing in British Columbia, and that announcement was greeted with general approval in all quarters. Viewing the question from the standpoint of conservation, as the majority of the fishermen do, to me it would seem most advisable to discontinue the issuance of licences for trap fishing in British Columbia.

The hon. member for Kootenay East (Mr. Stevens) seems to be under some misapprehension as to the species of fish that are caught in the traps. I have before me a copy of the last report of the Department of Fisheries, and it indicates that the traps catch sockeye, spring salmon, bluebacks, steelheads, cohoes, pinks and chums. I have also reason to believe that other fish, such as herring and immature salmon, are caught in the traps, and they are thrown aside.

Topic:   SALMON TRAP NETS
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REC

Henry Herbert Stevens

Reconstruction

Mr. STEVENS:

I never questioned that.

My point was that the class of fish that will take a trolling bait is a different class of salmon from those that will come into the trap. The sockeye, which is the main class of fish, and the pinks, will not take bait and therefore cannot be caught by troll. That is the only point I made in that respect.

Topic:   SALMON TRAP NETS
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CCF

Charles Grant MacNeil

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. MacNEIL:

Salmon Trap Nets-Mr. Tolmie

the Americans will get all the fish and we won't have a chance at them at all.

It has been stated also that in traps small fish are destroyed to a great extent. At Victoria, the nearest market for the fish from the traps at Sooke, certain varieties of fish are marketed which are not suitable for canning; they are disposed of not only in Victoria but also in Vancouver and other markets near by at reasonable prices, making these valuable food fish available for all the people.

The hon. member for Comox-Albemi also stated that after the American traps were closed the increase of fish in the Fraser river was very marked, particularly in the year 1936. Let it be remembered that the salmon, as they enter the strait of Juan de Fuca in search of the Fraser river, swing over to the north on the Vancouver island side, thence directly to the American side, where they are caught by American seiners and fishermen and, in the case of traps, by the trap owners. In 1936, for a reason which nobody has yet explained, although perhaps to-day I may have one to offer, the great bulk of the fish, instead of coming in by way of the strait of Juan de Fuca, swung away up north around Vancouver island and came in on the inside passage. The only solution we can find for that proceeding is the fact that they weie visited during that time by the hon. Minister of Fisheries (Mr. Michaud).

Topic:   SALMON TRAP NETS
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LIB

Thomas Reid

Liberal

Mr. REID:

Has the hon. member any figures as to how many fish, if they went around by the north, were caught by traps in 1936 as against the year before-

Topic:   SALMON TRAP NETS
Subtopic:   DESIRABILITY OF DISCONTINUING ISSUE OF LICENCES IN BRITISH COLUMBIA WATERS
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CON

Simon Fraser Tolmie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. TOLMIE:

I am sorry I have not the figures at hand, but I assume they are easily obtainable. Of course this year, after the traps on the American side were abolished, the great bulk of the fish, coming in by way of the inside passage from Vancouver island south, were caught in the Fraser river and in Canadian waters, and naturally the catch on the American side suffered to that extent.

What is the feeling in the state of Washington about the abolition of traps? They do not feel satisfied about it. Traps were abolished owing to the very strong propaganda put out by those who were in favour of sport fishing, those who had sporting goods to sell, those who desired to encourage fishing at certain resorts. These were a strong combination, and as a result of their influence at Olympia, Washington, traps were abolished for a period on the American side. How long will they remain abolished? Hon. Clarence D. Martin, governor of the state of Washing-

ton, speaking at Olympia on January 13 at the opening of the state legislature, made this statement:

I direct attention to an alarming and costly trend in one of our major national resources . . . the commercial fisheries. It is now

obvious that the initiative is not working out as well as had been promised. Oregon and British Columbia are taking more salmon, while Washington's share is decreasing.

Again he says:

The fisheries department will submit a program for your consideration, but I should like to make one recommendation: that we

declare that the state's interest is larger than, and prior to, that of any or all of the conflicting groups or forces within the industry; and that we shall, by law or regulation, control and distribute the fishery resources as found best for the present and future benefits of the state as a whole.

After all, how many fish do we catch at Sooke? One would imagine, listening to some of the statements that have been made, that the quantity was so large as seriously to interfere with the industry in British Columbia. As a matter of fact there are areas where ordinary methods of fishing are not practicable owing to such conditions as strong currents, tides, and so on. This particular area between Sombrio Point and Beechey Head near Victoria where the traps are located is subject to swift currents and heavy tides, with the result that other forms of fishing cannot be carried on there.

I am not a fisherman but a live stock man, and I cannot discuss this subject from personal experience; but I am given this information by those who are well posted in the industry. How much fish does this much-abused company capture there? The combined catches, United States and Canadian, at Sooke last year amounted to 2-2 per cent.

Topic:   SALMON TRAP NETS
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IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

Of what?

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CON

Simon Fraser Tolmie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. TOLMIE:

Sockeye, the great commercial fish.

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IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

Of what catch-British Columbia and United States together?

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CON

Simon Fraser Tolmie

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. TOLMIE:

Yes; that is the percentage of the catch between the state of Washington and British Columbia. It is evident then that the Sooke traps have little effect on gill net fishing on the Fraser river, but rather more effect on the United States industry. These fish on entering the straits-and I wish to emphasize this particular point-swing up north to Vancouver island where there is opportunity to catch them by means of proper appliances, and traps are the proper appliance in these particular locations. Then they swing south to the United States and are lost

JANUARY 25, 193V 229

Salmon Trap Nets-Mr. Hanson

to us except for those that happen to escape the American seines and nets, reaching the Fraser river a little later.

I am as much for the conservation of fish and timber in British Columbia as anyone else, and I say that if we catch too many fish by this method, so as to jeopardize the future of the fishing industry, then we should regulate the fisheries to such an extent as to obviate any such danger. It would be better to do that than to try to eliminate some particular form of fishing, wiping out a valuable industry employing a number of men, an industry that has paid out a million dollars in wages alone in eighteen years, and another business which gives employment to a number of men in the fishing season. The matter can be easily handled by regulation.

These fish are spawned in the headwaters of the Fraser river area. They proceed to sea when they are large enough and able to take care of themselves, remaining in the Pacific four years, and then they come back as the commercial fish which the fishermen endeavour to catch. Of these British Columbia spawned fish that come back into these waters the Americans capture from sixty-eight to seventy per cent, and I contend that we should take every opportunity in carrying on our Canadian business, to get as much as we possibly can of that catch by fair means.

As I said a moment ago, the Americans are not satisfied with the removal of the fish traps. They believe that their commercial catch has shrunk to a remarkable extent, and there is therefore to-day a strenuous effort on the part of fishermen on the United States side to reestablish traps in American waters. Where shall we be if we eliminate the Sooke traps first, in the hope that the Americans will not reintroduce their system, only to find that they have done so?

I do not agree with the resolution. In my opinion it is unfair to vested interests and to those who make a living out of these traps and out of the cannery, and who have established homes near these places. Not only is it unjust, but it does not touch the point we are after, namely, the conservation of fish. Let us conserve the fish by means of proper regulations such as are enforced in any otner branch of industry, in any part of the Department of Agriculture, or in any other line. 1 think that to adopt the method suggested would be to sacrifice Canadian opportunities to the advantage of our friends to the south of the line, and therefore, being of the opinion that on the whole this is not conducive to the progress and prosperity of the British Columbia fishing industry, I must oppose the resolution.

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LIB

Olof Hanson

Liberal

Mr. OLOF HANSON (Skeena):

I think

it is necessary for me to say a few words in regard to this resolution. In the first place, I regret that the Minister of Fisheries (Mr. Michaud) or the chairman of the fisheries committee did not see fit to have this whole subject brought before that committee, because in my opinion there are certain aspects of the subject that could be discussed much better in committee than they can be on the floor of the house.

I am absolutely in favour of the resolution, but I wish to refer to certain conditions which, as I see them, do not warrant the government in taking any drastic action at the present time. I am speaking as one who is interested in the cannery business and who therefore knows something about the fishing industry of British Columbia. As the hon. member for Kootenay East (Mr. Stevens) has said, the firm that has been operating in that district is an old and reputable one, and it has enjoyed a special privilege for forty years. In my opinion, if a particular firm has had a certain privilege for forty years while a large number of other canneries have not been so favoured, it is high time, if they have not benefited by that advantage which they have had, either for them to give up that privilege or for the others to share in it.

At the time the Todd company and other pioneering concerns in British Columbia began operations, it might have been necessary for the government to pass certain regulations to encourage the development of the industry. During these forty years, however, several other concerns, engaged not only in fishing but in every other branch of industry, have been carrying on without a similar privilege, and this particular firm, with its long experience, cannot expect any longer to enjoy exclusively a privilege in which others do not share. I do not think anyone doubts for a moment that the masses of the fishing population of British Columbia would benefit by the abolition of these traps. The hon. member for New Westminster (Mr. Reid) has said that when anywhere from ten thousand to twenty thousand fish are caught in twenty-four hours it requires two men to watch the operation and another two men to watch them; and as the hon. member for Comox-Alberni has pointed out, it would take hundreds of fishermen to catch that quantity of fish by the ordinary methods. That is a point that must be considered in this time of stress when the government is trying to provide employment for those who are out of work. Anything that can be done, even in a small way. to provide more men with employment should be done, and therefore I am strongly in favour

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Salmon Trap Nets-Mr. Maclnnis

of the resolution. If it comes to a vote I shall vote for it because I know it will not be detrimental to the canning industry-I am interested in that-but will help British Columbia and its fishing population. I am disappointed that this resolution has not gone before the fisheries committee where it could be discussed more fully and explanations could be given that cannot so well be given here.

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CCF

Angus MacInnis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. ANGUS MacINNIS (Vancouver East):

I wish to say a very few words in support of the resolution introduced and so ably supported by the hon. member for Comox-Alberni (Mr. Neill). I doubt if there are many hon. members from British Columbia who have been in .this house a few years who have not received protests from the fishermen of that province in regard to these fish traps. On a number of occasions I have drawn the matter to the attention of the department, and I know it has come up several times in the legislature of British Columbia. To me it is altogether a matter of the conservation of the fishery resources of this dominion. We have squandered other resources to such an extent that it will take a long time to replace them, if they can ever be replaced. In British Columbia we have squandered our timber resources like drunken sailors, as the saying goes. And with our fisheries we have done pretty much the same thing.

In a well-organized society I should not consider it good policy to take more time than is necessary to catch the fish we need. We should be concerned with catching the greatest number in the least possible time. However under an economic system whereby the fruits of industry are not equitably distributed, we are driven to the expedient of trying to increase the amount of labour spent for the production of an article rather than to reduce it. In the matter of conservation of fish the strongest argument made by the mover of the resolution, and one which we have to keep continually in mind, is that not only the Dominion of Canada but the country to the south of us, is concerned and if they have abolished fish traps on the understanding that they will remain abolished provided British Columbia also pursues that policy, or if they abolished them as a gesture anticipating their abolition by British Columbia, then certainly if we do not take that course the traps will be restored by the other country, to the detriment of both. If we are to formulate policies for the conservation of the fish resources of the Pacific coast we can do so only in conjunction with and with the assistance of the government on the other side.

[Mr. Hanson. 1

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LIB

Joseph Enoil Michaud (Minister of Fisheries)

Liberal

Hon. J. E. MICHAUD (Minister of Fisheries) :

I think it is proper that I should add a few words to what has been said on this resolution. The administration and supervision and licensing of the methods of fishing in tidal waters is under the jurisdiction of the federal government exclusively, and is carried on by the Department of Fisheries.

As was well said by the mover of the resolution (Mr. Neill) there are four main methods of fishing resorted to on the British Columbia coast. There is the individual fisherman, called the troller; there is the gill netter, who sets a kind of trap-he also is an individual fisherman. There is the purse seiner who also operates a kind of trap, assisted by other men, but not in great numbers; and finally there is this method of the fixed trap or set trap, which is employed in British Columbia waters as well as United States Pacific coast waters.

The method of fishing by traps is not new. It was sanctioned by order in council of the dominion government as far back as 1894, and has been in use more or less ever since that time, but subject to restrictions for very obvious reasons which I shall try to present. The order in council of 1894 to which I refer resulted from the report of a commission appointed for the province of British Columbia, which reported also on the Georgian bay fisheries; we have its report and recommendation. I will agree that the method of fishing by traps exclusively would tend, if no regulation were imposed upon them, to exhaust the supply. I will not agree that it is the easiest and cheapest method of operating the salmon fishing industry, but from the information I have been able to gather it is the method which enables the canners to place the highest grade products on the markets of the world. For that reason many of those interested in the salmon canning industry on the Pacific coast have at different times tried to get licences to use trap nets to catch their fish. However, governments ever since 1894, and particularly since 1904, have seen to it that the proper balance is maintained between those interested in that branch of the industry and the net fishers who are really the primary producers. Rules and restrictions have been made in order not to give exclusive privileges to one class of people as against another. The gill netters and the trollers were allowed to use their methods in certain waters; purse seiners were licensed, and so were trap fishermen.

At different times, I find according to the records, applications were made by various interests in the province of British Columbia for permission to use traps as a means of securing their raw material. In some instances that was permitted on a larger scale

Salmon Trap Nets-Mr. Michaud

than is the case at present. That was during the war period, when there was such a demand for the product and such a shortage of labour in that part of the country. During the war the government of the day issued temporary trap licences to those packers who had supplied the market but who could not secure the necessary labour in order to bring to the canneries by other methods or fishing the material that was required. Outside of that period, however, with a few exceptions in the north which did not continue for very long, trap fishing in British Columbia has been confined to the waters at the southwest point of Vancouver island, for the reason that the choicest variety of salmon, which as the house well knows is the sockeye, runs up from Puget sound or the strait of Juan de Fuca, in a straight line to the southern point of Vancouver island. Then it goes back to American waters in order to come in to the Fraser river. This is the course followed by the salmon on that coast, according to information which has been verified by inquiry, and I am told that the fish in those waters cannot be caught by any method other than trap fishing.

That is so for several reasons. In the first place the trollers and gill netters cannot operate successfully because of the phosphorated condition of the water. There is so much phosphorus in the water at that point that gill netting and trolling cannot be resorted to, and the waters are too swift for the operation of purse seines. That is shown by the fact that no purse seine fishing has been carried on in those waters, although there is nothing to restrict or prohibit it. This information is given to me by the officials of my department from the records of the department, and has been confirmed by those who know something of fishing in that locality.

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CCF

Charles Grant MacNeil

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. MacNEIL:

Will the minister permit

a question? Even if the fish cannot be caught in that particular area by other means, do not the traps intercept the main movement of the fish, which may be caught elsewhere in Canadian waters?

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LIB

Joseph Enoil Michaud (Minister of Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. MICHAUD:

I am told by the officials of the department, who have had many years of experience in the matter, that instead of being a hindrance to those who want to resort to purse seining the traps are a help to them, because they help gather the fish at certain points, where they can be caught more easily by purse seines than they could if the traps were not there. In any case we have this fact, which is not contradicted, that the purse seiners have not resorted to these

waters, though there is nothing to prohibit them or restrict them in doing so. I am told by the officials of the department, who know something about those waters, that these are the facts, and1 that the reasons I have advanced are the reasons why fishermen do not go to these waters.

For these reasons, Mr. Speaker, succeeding governments since 1904 have permitted trap fishing in the waters in question. The number of licences taken out has varied, but according to the records not more than three or four, or in some years five, traps have been used in that area. It has been stated that a monopoly has been created in the hands of some individuals. That may be so, but I do not know of any other applications which have reached the department to permit the use of traps in those waters. Because of the fact that these licences have been issued, since 1904 a considerable industry has been established in the vicinity of these traps, which depends upon the traps for its operation.

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IND

Alan Webster Neill

Independent

Mr. NEILL:

I thought a few minutes ago the minister said 1894.

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LIB

Joseph Enoil Michaud (Minister of Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. MICHAUD:

I said that fishing by means of traps has been sanctioned by the government since 1894. Traps have been established at the point under discussion since 1904.

The resolution states that it would be in the best interests of British Columbia, because it would be in the interests of the greater conservation of salmon, if these traps were done away with. That is a matter of opinion, and I doubt if that statement will be borne out by the facts. I am told that the quantity of non-salmonoid fish or whitefish incidentally taken in the traps is very low in comparison with the salmon caught there. These white-fish are put on the market in the city of Victoria and adjoining districts, where they are sold at lower prices than the better classes of fish, and where they are welcomed by people of moderate means who are pleased to get them.

It has been stated also that there is a large proportion of immature salmon being taken in the traps, which would not be taken otherwise, and which means that these fish are destroyed. Everyone knows that it is exceptional for immature salmon to come back to fresh water for spawning purposes. Ordinarily salmon do not return for three, four or five years. Generally speaking the fish that come back from salt to fresh water are mature fish, and it is the exception when an immature salmon returns to fresh water. These salmon are caught when they are on their way to fresh water for spawning purposes. So that

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Salmon Trap Nets-Mr. Michaud

from the point of view of conservation, in regard to the destruction of immature fish, I submit the records show that there is no destruction of fish to any considerable extent. If there had been such destruction I doubt whether succeeding governments since 1904 would have permitted that type of fishing to continue.

Reference has been made to the large quantities of fish taken in the traps, but I cannot agree with those who contend that the source of supply is in danger of being exhausted because of the licensing of a few traps. I have the records from 1930 to 1936.

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CON

Grote Stirling

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STIRLING:

Will the minister put those figures on Hansard?

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January 25, 1937