April 8, 1957

LIB

William Alfred Robinson (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

I am sorry; that is the point. I think there has been some misapprehension. This motion is not debatable. I was right the first time. The hon. gentleman should ask his questions in committee.

The house in committee on Bill No. 412, to implement the interim convention on conservation of north Pacific fur seals-Mr. Sinclair-Mr. Robinson (Simcoe East) in the chair.

On clause 1-Short title.

Topic:   NORTH PACIFIC FUR SEALS
Subtopic:   IMPLEMENTATION OF INTERIM CONVENTION ON CONSERVATION
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PC

George Randolph Pearkes

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Pearkes:

Mr. Chairman, not only myself but other members were not notified of this committee meeting. I did not know until a minute ago that there were other members in the same position as myself and had no notice of this committee meeting. Had I known this I would not have given consent to proceed; but having been advised since I took objection that there were other members of the committee who were not notified of the sitting of the committee, I would ask the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Fisheries to report on the proceedings of the committee.

Topic:   NORTH PACIFIC FUR SEALS
Subtopic:   IMPLEMENTATION OF INTERIM CONVENTION ON CONSERVATION
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LIB

John Watson MacNaught (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. MacNaughl:

Mr. Chairman, I shall be very glad to do so. As I stated in my opening remarks a few moments ago, the committee met in room 497 this afternoon at three o'clock. A quorum was present and there were also present the Minister of Fisheries and five officials from the Department of Fisheries. The bill was considered clause by clause. No amendments were proposed and consequently the bill was reported back to the house without amendment. The Minister of Fisheries made a statement. A statement was also made by Dr. Kask, who is chairman of the fisheries research board. Every question that was asked by any member of the committee was answered adequately and completely. There was complete unanimity as to the procedure.

At the resolution stage the hon. member for Esquimalt-Saanich advanced a very novel, and interesting proposition. I think he based the proposition on two premises, one of which probably has not been scientifically established. He pointed out that fur seals were responsible to a large extent for the destruction of commercial fish, particularly salmon. The evidence given by Dr. Kask today to the committee was to the effect that there was no such proof and, in fact, the experiments carried out up to the present time would seem to indicate that such was not the case. However, the purpose of the convention is to carry out a research program over a 6-year period. One of the matters which will be referred to the committee will be to ascertain whether fur seals are as destructive to commercial fish as some fishermen allege.

The other premise upon which the hon. member for Esquimalt-Saanich based his suggestion was that he could draw some analogy between the present situation and the award under the Ashburton treaty. I submit that no true analogy can be drawn in this instance. Along about 1910 or 1911 the seal fishery of the Pacific coast had almost vanished. It is true that at one time there was a reasonably large fishery on the Pacific coast, but in 1909 or 1911 this had dwindled down so that there were only two boats still engaged in the pelagic fishing of seal, and these boats were not getting many seals. The result was that when the convention of 1911 undertook the conservation of seals in a scientific manner they took over a defunct or a non-existent fishery. At that time I think an estimate was made that there were about 130,000 seals in the Pribilof herd. Today that has grown by scientific conservation to a herd of something between 2 million and 3 million head of seal.

Therefore I submit that the first premise has not been scientifically proved and secondly that no true analogy can be drawn between the Ashburton treaty and the present

North Pacific Fur Seals situation. Furthermore, at the present time the federal government is spending far more money on fishery programs than would be possible under this sum of money. I think the hon. member also would agree with me when I say that it would be unrealistic to try to divide the amount of money that we get from the sale of the fur seals among the fishermen, as was done in the case of the Ashburton award on the Atlantic coast.

Topic:   NORTH PACIFIC FUR SEALS
Subtopic:   IMPLEMENTATION OF INTERIM CONVENTION ON CONSERVATION
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PC

George Randolph Pearkes

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Pearkes:

Mr. Chairman, I am not prepared to agree at all; I would like to ask the parliamentary assistant the date on which the so-called scientific investigation was carried out?

Topic:   NORTH PACIFIC FUR SEALS
Subtopic:   IMPLEMENTATION OF INTERIM CONVENTION ON CONSERVATION
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LIB

John Watson MacNaught (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. MacNaughl:

It was carried out over the last three to five years.

Topic:   NORTH PACIFIC FUR SEALS
Subtopic:   IMPLEMENTATION OF INTERIM CONVENTION ON CONSERVATION
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PC

George Randolph Pearkes

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Pearkes:

What number of personnel was employed in this scientific investigation; what boats were used and where were the scientific tests carried out?

Topic:   NORTH PACIFIC FUR SEALS
Subtopic:   IMPLEMENTATION OF INTERIM CONVENTION ON CONSERVATION
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LIB

John Watson MacNaught (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. MacNaughl:

They were carried out under the supervision of Dr. Kask who is the head of the fisheries research board.

Topic:   NORTH PACIFIC FUR SEALS
Subtopic:   IMPLEMENTATION OF INTERIM CONVENTION ON CONSERVATION
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PC

George Randolph Pearkes

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Pearkes:

How many vessels were used and how many seals were taken?

Topic:   NORTH PACIFIC FUR SEALS
Subtopic:   IMPLEMENTATION OF INTERIM CONVENTION ON CONSERVATION
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LIB

John Watson MacNaught (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. MacNaughl:

I regret I cannot give any specific information on those points. I was merely reporting to the house for the benefit of the member for Esquimalt-Saanich and other members what was reported to the committee today and that was the statement made by Dr. Kask to the committee this afternoon.

Topic:   NORTH PACIFIC FUR SEALS
Subtopic:   IMPLEMENTATION OF INTERIM CONVENTION ON CONSERVATION
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PC

George Randolph Pearkes

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Pearkes:

Not having been advised of the committee meeting I was not there and therefore was not able to question the evidence given by this officer of the fisheries department, but all the evidence I have received from practical sealers and men who are operating on that coast is absolutely to the contrary. All the evidence from people such as Captain Max E. Lohbrunner, men who have been engaged in the sealing operations over the last 50 years, is to the effect that large quantities of Pacific salmon are destroyed by the fur seals during the months from November to June when they are operating off the west coast of Vancouver island.

These seals will attack a full grown salmon, take a bite of the fish and then go on to attack another one, passing through a whole run of salmon and perhaps eating only a few pounds, but destroying great quantities. There is every evidence from practical fishermen on the west coast of British Columbia that vast quantities of salmon have been destroyed.

I quoted figures on Saturday, which were conservative figures, indicating the quantities

North Pacific Fur Seals destroyed. The evidence is to the effect that on an average a full grown fur seal will destroy at least 15 pounds of salmon per day during the time when the seals are feeding off the salmon on the west coast.

Now it all depends in what periods of the year these so-called scientific investigations were carried out. True, if you are examining a seal during the early months of the summer, when it is not feeding on salmon, you will not find salmon in its belly, but if you examine the seal during the winter months, you will find that that seal is living off Pacific coast salmon. For this reason I claim that the west coast fishermen should be compensated for the loss of their industry when it is necessary to place restrictions on the amount of time that the fishermen can carry out their lawful operations on the Pacific coast.

You are passing regulations prohibiting the trolling for spring salmon during the winter months when the best fishermen go out and fish. Anybody can catch a fish during the summer when they are running but during the hard winter months the fish are only caught by the most experienced fishermen with the best gear and the best vessels. Those are the men who are permanent fishermen there; they are not the casual fishermen who take out commercial licences in order to spend a summer fishing vacation, at the same time making a certain amount of money from their catch as I know a great many men do.

Because of the shortage of salmon on the Pacific coast sought by the year-round fishermen, and because of the reduction in the run and the need for conservation, you have to close down the trolling during the winter months when the fur seals are preying on the Pacific coast salmon. It is during those months that the fisherman is not able to earn a living and I maintain, if you can have a similar situation existing on the Atlantic coast where your Atlantic fishermen are paid compensation on account of the privileges granted to United States fishermen who are depleting the catch on that coast, similar conditions apply on the Pacific coast.

As I have requested, I would like an answer to be given as to the months during which these scientific operations were carried out, particularly as to whether or not the tests were made when the seals are feeding off the salmon. Obviously if they were carried out during the summer months there would be no salmon found in the stomach of the fur seal.

Topic:   NORTH PACIFIC FUR SEALS
Subtopic:   IMPLEMENTATION OF INTERIM CONVENTION ON CONSERVATION
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LIB

John Watson MacNaught (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. MacNaughl:

In reply to the hon.

member for Esquimalt-Saanich may I say that I regret I cannot tell him the exact

period during which the experiment was carried out. I can tell him, however, that the stomachs of some 5,000 seals were examined, so I conclude that the experiments extended over some considerable period of time.

I can say also that it is the considered opinion of Dr. Kask, who has given this matter much thought and study, that the fur seal is not a great destroyer of salmon.

I think he pointed out to the committee today that the seal might destroy salmon left in nets, but that there is not a great deal of this type of fishing done on the Pacific coast, and that most of the fish found in the stomachs of seals are fish that do not swim as rapidly as salmon. The inference was that the salmon are able to look after themselves pretty well.

Topic:   NORTH PACIFIC FUR SEALS
Subtopic:   IMPLEMENTATION OF INTERIM CONVENTION ON CONSERVATION
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PC

George Randolph Pearkes

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Pearkes:

All I can say is that I wish there had been an opportunity to call before this committee some practical fishermen from the west, because people who are engaged in practical sealing operations would have told your scientists and the committee a very different story. But when you do not give members of parliament an opportunity to attend a committee meeting it is not likely you are going to give an opportunity for practical sealers to come forward.

Topic:   NORTH PACIFIC FUR SEALS
Subtopic:   IMPLEMENTATION OF INTERIM CONVENTION ON CONSERVATION
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Clause agreed to. Clauses 2 and 3 agreed to. On clause 4-Implementation.


PC

George Randolph Pearkes

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Pearkes:

I have not had time to read this. Will the parliamentary assistant please explain clause 4?

Topic:   NORTH PACIFIC FUR SEALS
Subtopic:   IMPLEMENTATION OF INTERIM CONVENTION ON CONSERVATION
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LIB

John Watson MacNaught (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. MacNaughl:

I think clause 4 is selfexplanatory. I do not think I can add anything to the clarity of the language used by the draftsmen.

Topic:   NORTH PACIFIC FUR SEALS
Subtopic:   IMPLEMENTATION OF INTERIM CONVENTION ON CONSERVATION
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Clause agreed to. On clause 5-Pelagic sealing.


PC

George Randolph Pearkes

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Pearkes:

Does this include the Indians of the Pacific coast who are permitted to carry out sealing operations?

Topic:   NORTH PACIFIC FUR SEALS
Subtopic:   IMPLEMENTATION OF INTERIM CONVENTION ON CONSERVATION
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LIB

John Watson MacNaught (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. MacNaughl:

I think I pointed out when I made my statement at the resolution stage that the Indians of the Pacific coast are allowed to do pelagic sealing, but only in canoes with bows and arrows or spears; they are not allowed to use firearms or high-powered boats.

Topic:   NORTH PACIFIC FUR SEALS
Subtopic:   IMPLEMENTATION OF INTERIM CONVENTION ON CONSERVATION
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PC

George Randolph Pearkes

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Pearkes:

Clause 5 says every person is guilty of an offence-I stress those words "every person"-who, being a citizen or resident of Canada or a member of the crew of a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of Canada engages in pelagic sealing in convention water. Would that not include Indians?

Topic:   NORTH PACIFIC FUR SEALS
Subtopic:   IMPLEMENTATION OF INTERIM CONVENTION ON CONSERVATION
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LIB

John Watson MacNaught (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. MacNaught:

If the hon. member would look at clause 7 he will find the answer to that.

Topic:   NORTH PACIFIC FUR SEALS
Subtopic:   IMPLEMENTATION OF INTERIM CONVENTION ON CONSERVATION
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April 8, 1957