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.
Subtopic: DESIRABILITY OF DISCONTINUING ISSUE OF LICENCES IN BRITISH COLUMBIA WATERS