I believe I can say that all hon. members from the maritimes are agreed in asking that the minister give every consideration to the question of fisheries. At the outset I should like to associate myself with the congratulations which have already been extended to the minister by the hon. members from Saint John-Albert and Royal upon his appointment as Minister of Fisheries. He has already shown by his interest, his energy and his cooperation with the various sections of Canada that he is alive to the possibilities In his department. It is no minor department, but represents real wealth to our country. The maritimes is perhaps the largest fishing unit in the dominion-with all due respect to the hon. member for New Westminster, who takes such a deep interest in the fisheries. I would remind the house that the fisheries mean something like 838,000,000 to our section of the country, and to Nova Scotia itself a wealth of 823,662,000.
I wish to concur in and support the representations made by the hon. member for Saint John-Albert in his suggestion to the minister that he cooperate in the closest possible manner with the Department of Public Works. Like the hon. member I too made representations to the Minister of Public Works that he give favourable consideration to the requests from the maritimes for breakwaters, particularly in the fishing villages along our coast. Unless they have that protection, and unless there is close cooperation between the two departments, the fishing industry, particularly, the inshore fishery, cannot be carried on to the advantage of the industry and of the country. Both ministers must be familiar with the hazards experienced by the inshore fishermen. They leave their homes as early as four of five o'clock in the morning, go to the fishing grounds, and do not return until towards evening. Unfortunately considerable publicity has been given recently by the radio and the press to gales that are sometimes experienced in Nova Scotia. These gales cause damage all along our coast, and it is to offset such damage that I have urged again and again that the Minister of Public Works cooperate with the Minister of Fisheries with a view to providing the necessary breakwaters. As an illustration of the problems with which the. fishermen are faced, let me point out that many of them operate out of small coves containing from eight to ten fishing boats. Through the months when storms are experienced the openings through which the fishermen pass to and from the fishing grounds are closed by obstructions
piled up by the storms. I am anxious to see that these passages are kept open by the provision of proper breakwaters.
I wish to support the arguments which have been made in support of the development of our export trade, and particularly the' marketing of maritime fish in central Canada. Years ago we established a market in central Canada-Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto-and it was a Halifax man, by the way, who was largely responsible for the inauguration of that market. I am anxious to see it maintained, and I am wondering whether the officials of the department have cooperated with' or made representations to the Department of Transport in the matter of providing modern facilities for the carrying of fresh fish from the maritimes to these central markets which I know wish to have our fish. As the hon. member for Royal has said, in Ottawa we repeatedly ask for fish and cannot get it, and the same is true of Montreal and Toronto but to an even greater extent. It would increase the consumption of fish and be of direct benefit to the maritimes if the Minister of Fisheries would give this matter further thought, and encourage the marketing of our fish from the maritimes.
The minister is no doubt familiar with the merger of a large number of fishery concerns which recently took place in the maritimes.
I think it will be a good thing from the point ' of view of our export, trade, which takes care of something like seventy per cent of our total catch. This large merger no doubt will have the most modern equipment for processing, freezing, and so on; but I am concerned about the future of our inshore fishing. We have in Halifax the largest number of inshore fishermen in any county in Nova Scotia, and that may sound surprising when you think of Halifax rather as a port and an industrial section of Nova Scotia. But the fact remains that we have 750 inshore fishermen's boats, employing 963 men. As I say, I am concerned about these inshore fishermen, and I am going to suggest that the minister endeavour to give them every possible encouragement in the establishment of small processing plants. If there is one department that has efficient and sympathetic officials, from the deputy minister down, it is the Department of Fisheries. I have gone to them time and again with problems and have always had a very attentive hearing, and I have found them ready to lend assistance whenever possible.
I am suggesting to them through the minister that further encouragement be given to the inshore fishermen; that inspectors and their assistants visit these fishing villages along the
shore, offering advice''as to how the fishermen can better process their catch. If this is done I feel sure it will add largely to the output.
Just recently I put before the Minister of Public Works a problem affecting twelve fishermen who formerly operated from a certain village. A processing plant was established a little further along the shore, and through lack of a breakwater these fishermen were obliged to travel many more miles to the new processing plant, with the result that there has been a gradual dying out of the fishing industry in that section. I feel that there is an opportunity for doing business in both places, and if we had cooperation these eight or ten fishermen would be able to carry their catch to a plant in their immediate vicinity instead of having to waste time in carrying it to a plant at a greater distance.
It is a matter of satisfaction, Mr. Chairman, to have the two ministers sitting in front of me, because I can address one or the other from time to time, and therefore I hope we shall have closer cooperation between the two departments than we have had in the past.
I am glad that the hon. member for Royal mentioned the West Indies trade agreement, which I understand is now under review by the Department of Trade and Commerce. It is quite likely that the Minister of Fisheries will make sure that his officials sit in on those deliberations so as to bring about the best possible results for the fishing industry-in this country.
I corfid speak on the lobster catch. Sometimes this is termed a luxury trade, but it means real money to us in Nova Scotia, particularly to the fishermen in the constituency of the hon. member for Shelburne-Yarmouth-Clare. No doubt he will deal with that question to a greater extent than I would care to do at this time.
I am going to leave just tw-o thoughts with the Minister of Fisheries. I would ask him, as I have said, to give every possible assistance, financial and by way of advice, to those who are prepared to construct small processing and freezing plants. I would also ask him to give every possible encouragement and advice to the fisherman who is anxious to build the type of boat which will permit him to go further to sea, but who is not financially able to do so. I believe the larger type of boat is more economical to operate, but unfortunately the Nova Scotia fishermen are not always in a position to finance the building of such boats. So I would ask the minister and his officials to give these men every consideration with a view to encouraging and helping them in every possible way
I realize, Mr. Chairman, that you wish to , get these and other estimates through as quickly as possible, so I shall not add anything further at this time. From my knowledge of the minister I am sure he is sympathetically inclined toward this industry and will do everything possible to encourage it, both in the maritimes and throughout the dominion.