Mr. Chairman, in rising to speak on the general item, I should like to state that I have no intention of unnecessarily holding up the minister's estimates. However, I feel that in view of the importance of fishing to the constituency which I represent, and in view of some of the observations which have been made by hon. members in this committee, certain information should be placed on the record.
The fishing industry, as has been pointed out by the hon. member for Bonavista-Twil-lingate, is very old. Long before there was any western Canada we had a fishery on the east coast. As a matter of fact, history discloses that one of the first commercial companies was given the exclusive right to the sea and inland fisheries of Canada on certain terms.
I was quite interested in the observation of the hon. member relating to codfish in Newfoundland. This interest arises also out of the statement made by the premier of that province that the codfishery of Newfoundland was on the decline. We sometimes wonder whether the decline is due to the lack of markets, improper methods of curing or even the dearth of improvement in the method of catching fish. Be that as it may, I agree
with the hon. member that codfishery is a very important part of the economy of eastern Canada.
When we consider the importance of the fisheries of Canada, I think we should give careful consideration to the problems facing the fishermen, particularly on the east coast.
1 am not going to say anything about the fisheries of the Pacific coast, of which I know very little, but sometimes hon. members, and possibly the country at large, get the impression that the only segment of our economy of any importance is the farming industry of western Canada.
Let me assure hon. members that we have our problems on the east coast. Perhaps because we are a little more independent and a little more self-reliant we do not ask the government for the same amount of assistance as do our brothers in the western provinces. Nevertheless, we have problems and it is about some of them that I should like to speak for a few minutes this afternoon.
Every year Canadian fishermen take some
2 billion pounds of fish and shellfish from the salt and fresh waters off the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. Those fisheries are valued at approximately $200 million. Therefore, it can be seen that they are of vital importance to the economy of Canada.
The primary fishing industry in Canada supports the families of over 80,000 fishermen and also a number of people connected with the industry in various activities, and this number is increasing every year. This fact should be taken into consideration when we are talking about the per capita income of the various kinds of fishermen. Although there has been an increase in the gross production of fish there has also been an increase in the number of fishermen employed in the industry.
The extent of our fishing activity can be appreciated when we realize that Canadians have access to three of the world's five oceans. Together with its coastal islands, Canada has a sea front of 60,000 miles, which is more than twice the length of the equator. Even more remarkable is the fact that 260,000 square miles of lakes and rivers, one half the fresh water supply of the whole world, are located within Canadian boundaries.
The history of the canning industry in Charlotte goes back a great many years. We find that many years ago sardine canning originated in Eastport in the state of Maine. In the constituency of Charlotte we have the largest sardine factory in the British commonwealth. At St. Andrews we have the largest live lobster pound in the world. On the Atlantic coast groundfish, especially cod and haddock and also lobsters, are the mainstay of the fisheries, while herring, mackerel
and other fish add to the value of the industry. The annual Atlantic herring catch, including sardines, is around 225 million pounds, about one third of which is used in my constituency in the canning industry. In addition to this we have smokehouses, pickling plants and the lobster fishing industry. Each of the canning industries, which up to a few years ago operated only a matter of a few months each season, now operates about 10 months of the year, and during the peak of the season the sum of $100,000 to $125,000 is paid out each week for fish, wages and so on. This has been made possible by the improvements made in methods of fishing, type of gear, and in the packing systems and plants.
I do not intend to go into the history of the canning industry, but during the past few years the largest and practically the only packing plant in my constituency, namely that of Connors Brothers Limited, has been packing annually over a million cases of sardines which are sold in all parts of the world. When we consider the number of individuals employed directly or indirectly in this industry, the number of boats operating, the new ones built and old ones repaired and maintained, the number of fishermen and factory workers employed, it will be realized that the fishing industry is a pretty important one in the southern part of New Brunswick. I have some figures which indicate the value of this fishery, and this applies only to the constituency of Charlotte.
In 1959, 97,498,000 pounds of sardines were taken, valued at $1,528,000. In 1960 the quantity had risen to 103,964,000 pounds valued at $1,700,000. These sardines were caught in various types of gear. Of that amount 61.2 per cent were caught in what is known as weirs; 35.6 per cent in purse seines; 2.6 per cent in beach seines; and 0.6 per cent in other types of gear. Therefore, hon. members can see that there is a wide diversification in the type of gear used in this particular industry.
In addition to the herring industry, lobsters provide an excellent and large source of cash income. Most of the catch is marketed alive, fresh boiled or as fresh or frozen lobsters, and sent to all parts of Canada. Recently lobsters have been shipped to Holland by air where they are commanding an excellent price. Let me give an illustration of the value of this particular fishery. In 1959, 879,000 pounds of lobster were taken, valued at $440,000. In 1960, the catch had risen to 1,081,000 pounds, valued at $496,000.
A large scallop bed was recently discovered off the state of Maine. In 1959 nearly 5 million pounds of scallop meat were produced in the area and this development is providing a further source of income.
In connection with the fisheries, a fisheries research board is operated at St. Andrews. In 1958, this government opened a large addition to this board, which has provided excellent service to the fishermen of the area. I am sure this service is appreciated by all my constituents.
This fisheries research board was established at St. Andrews in 1899, and now employs a large number of technicians and scientists, all under the careful guidance and excellent leadership of Dr. Hart. This board not only provides great assistance to the fishermen in my area, but is a source of employment in an area which might otherwise experience difficulty in providing employment. In 1955-60, there was spent on new construction in this area, $417,617; on repairs and maintenance, excluding the fleet of boats, nearly $5,000; on salaries and wages, excluding the crews of the vessels, $527,208; on vessel operations, including the salaries of the crews, $178,928, or a total for that fiscal year of $1,172,190.
The 30th annual report of the Department of Fisheries, which is available to all members, sets out in some detail the value of the fisheries in the maritime provinces and Quebec, and the amount of money expended in the various stations of the maritime area for scientific investigation and protection of the various fisheries. I do not intend to give these figures in detail, but I should like to refer briefly to some of the figures put on the record by the hon. member for Gloucester.
The hon. member for Gloucester represents a riding which is primarily a fishing riding, like my own, although his interests are particularly related to groundfish and not sardines. If the hon. member will examine some of the figures and make some comparisons, I feel he will realize that his criticisms of the Department of Fisheries are unjust and unfair. He indicated, if I interpreted his remarks correctly, that we are not getting a proportionate increase in the value of the fisheries for the amount of money expended by this department.
In 1953-54, we spent on protection in New Brunswick, $485,000, and in 1959-60, $568,000, in round figures. Now, in the same year, 1953-54, we spent on assistance for the construction of vessels, only $57,268, while in 1959-60, we spent $110,335. This indicates that in this period we have doubled our assistance to the fishing fleet. The recent announcement by the Minister of Transport indicating that an increased subsidy would be granted on the construction of fishing vessels was received by my constituents with appreciation. There are several vessels now being completed, and several more are contemplated.
As an indication that the Department of Fisheries is keeping in touch with developments, I would point out that in 1952 the value of fishing gear in Canada was $106 million. In 1958, the latest figures available to me, the value of this same gear had reached over $114 million. The landed value of sardines in the maritimes in 1952 was $1,797,000, while in 1959, only seven years later, it amounted to $3,186,000. Although there was only a slight increase in the value of the cod catch, the lobster catch for the maritimes, excluding Newfoundland, in 1953 was $13 million and in 1959, it was $16 million. Although there has been an increase in the expenditures of the various departments over the intervening years, I think that these expenditures have been justified and have been worth while.
The department is now spending a considerable amount of money on research on the improvement of methods of catching fish, and rendering every possible assistance to the fishermen of Canada. I think at this time I should pay tribute to the minister and, through him, to his officials, for the work done by the department in the investigation of the Passamaquoddy power project. The Department of Fisheries carried out a long and careful survey of the project and formed a part of the two engineering teams that laid before the international joint commission the findings on which the commission based its report. Whether or not this power project is eventually undertaken is not now under discussion but the fact is that the Department of Fisheries, through the fisheries research board, carried out an excellent survey and gave real leadership to that commission.
I think I should make some comments on the unfair discrimination between fishermen in so far as unemployment insurance is concerned. At the present time a very unfair and unjust discrimination is exercised as between the fisherman who catches fresh fish and the fisherman who cures fish. The man who cures fish is able to spread his contributions over a greater period of time and therefore receives greater benefits from his unemployment insurance credits than does the fresh fish man. I would suggest to the minister that some changes might be made in the regulations in order to correct this anomaly. I should like to mention also that, especially in areas where there are a number of fishermen operating at different times of the year and with different types of cure, the regulations should be looked at from time to time in order to ensure that each particular segment of the industry receives a fair opportunity for catching fish. I realize that this is difficult because we have overlapping seasons. However, in so far as the
government is able, it should endeavour to provide regulations that will ensure that no group is unjustly discriminated against. I think I should at this time also thank the minister and his officials for the co-operation and assistance given to the people of my area during the past few years.