August 29, 1946 (20th Parliament, 2nd Session)


William Chisholm Macdonald (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of National Defence)


Mr. MACDONALD (Halifax):

It has never been codified, but I think it has generally been accepted in British countries that the three-mile limit was the extent of the limit over which British power extends. That is modified in many cases by conventions and by agreements. But I would say that the mere fact that that was the law does not mean that that law should continue to exist as it is. It never had any scientific or logical basis. I think it was settled on the basis that when the question arose the range of a coastal gun was three miles. But we know to-day rockets go hundreds of miles, to say nothing of the distances which bombs from aeroplanes can be carried.
The hon. member for New Westminster referred to a proclamation of President Truman which was issued last December. It related to fisheries in waters contiguous to the United States. I have read the operative part of that document, which appears in Hansard, August 28, page 5524. It seems to me that this proclamation expressly reserves the rights of fishermen of other nations, and it also reserves navigational rights. It does not go so far as to provide that the United States can legislate in respect of waters which have been fished by their own nationals in common with nationals of other countries. The order provides, dealing with fishing activities in areas of the high seas contiguous to the United States, that-
Where such activities have been or shall hereafter be developed and maintained by its nationals alone, the United States regards it as proper to establish explicitly bounded conservation zones in which fishing activities shall be subject to the regulation and control of the United States. Where such activities have been or shall hereafter be legitimately developed and maintained jointly by nationals of the United States and nationals of other states, explicitly bounded conservation zones may be established under agreements between the United States and such other states; and all fishing activities in such zones shall be subject to regulation and control as provided in such agreements.
I take that to mean that if you have areas where the fishing was carried on solely by the nationals of the United States, then United States can make regulations dealing with the activities of the fishermen engaged on the particular area. On the other hand, if it is an area which has been fished not only by nationals of the United States but also by nationals of other countries, the control by regulation of the area must take place in consequence of an agreement arrived at between the countries concerned.
I mention these reservations in order to point out that proclamations alone will not cure the troubles of our Nova Scotia off-shore fishermen. I see no objection at all to the Canadian government issuing a proclamation which would follow the lines of President Truman's proclamation; in fact there may be a distinct advantage, because the mere assertion or declaration of our right to the control of fisheries over certain areas may of itself begin to establish a prior claim to those fisheries.
The banks with which the Nova Scotia fishermen are most concerned have I think been fished at times by nationals of other countries, and before any controls over the fisheries were exercised negotiations would have to be entered into with these other countries. At the same time there could be no possible objection that I can see to a declaration of our intention to establish conservation zones. The purpose will be to conserve the fish, and that is in effect the conservation of the food supply of a great part of Canada. It is proved, I believe, beyond question by those who have given scientific study to the matter that the new methods of fishing and constant fishing with those improved methods will deplete any fishery unless proper measures are taken for the control.
That brings up another question, to which the hon. member for Queens-Lunenburg referred, that of an improved patrol service on the fishing banks. I think that is really the immediate problem which now faces the Department of Fisheries. The proclamation can be made, and we can assert our rights in these international waters, but in the meantime the loss of nets and fishing gear will continue to go on. I suggest to the Minister of Fisheries that we might have considered by the government the amalgamation of the water services carried on by the government by the formation of a coast guard service or in some other manner. Five government departments maintain marine services at the present time, and this quite apart from those carried on by the navy. These services include the protection of fisheries, aids to navigation, lighthouses, the protection of customs revenue, hydrographic surveys and air-sea search and rescue work. The departments carrying on this work are the R.C.A.F., the R.C.M.P., the Department of Transport, the Department of Mines and Resources with its hydrographic section, and the Department of Fisheries.
Recommendations for the formation of a Canadian coast guard service have been made by the maritime marine federation, the Nova Scotia federation of labour and the white ensign association of Halifax. As was pointed

out by the hon. member for Queens-Lunen-burg, maritimers are a seafaring people. Many of them earn their living by fishing on the high seas or serving as seamen. They are sea-minded; they have a natural liking for the sea, and the formation of a coast guard service would appeal to them. They are not alone in advocating the formation of a coast guard service. The commission on veterans legislation headed by Colonel Bovey found that a coast guard service would 'be justified, not only for the employment of discharged naval personnel but also on the grounds of actual need.
If the amalgamation of the water services of the various departments other than the navy is desirable, and I think it is, the most satisfactory solution would appear to lie in the formation of a coast guard service. The existence of so many departments maintaining marine services seems illogical and may result in some duplication of government expenditure. There is a further consideration. Ships for these various services could be of standardized design and adaptable for naval use. The ships could more easily become part of the navy in the event of an emergency. Furthermore, a Canadian coast guard could advantageously form the nucleus of an expanded service should the need arise in war time. The members of the marine, section of the R.C.M.P. were incorporated into the navy at the beginning of the war. They made a great contribution and many of them served with great distinction. When hostilities ceased, the R.C.M.P. marine section was again absorbed by that force.
There is another consideration. An amalgamated service would be the logical instrument for the discharge of Canada's responsibilities in such international undertakings as air-sea rescue, ocean meteorological stations or other commitments of like nature which do not fall clearly within the work of a single department. During the war the R.C.A.F. had the responsibility for air-sea rescue service, and this service was operated by the R.C.A.F., assisted by the R.C.N. Under the terms of one of the conventions or agreements arrived at at the intei-national civilian aviation conference held in Chicago in 1944, Canada undertook to provide such measure of assistance to aircraft in distress in its territory as it might find practicable. If we are to have a coast guard it might well be patterned on that of the United States. No other country has a similar service.
If anyone is interested in the activities of the United States coast guard I would refer him to the hearings before the subcommittee

of the committee on appropriations when it was dealing with the coast guard appropriation bill for 1947. These proceedings set out clearly the functions of the United States coast guard both in war and peace. In war time it became part of the military forces of the United States and was operated by the navy. Under a directive issued by President Truman in December last it was directed that on and after January 1, 1946, the coast guard would operate under the department of the treasury. In other words, in war time the United States coast guard is part of the military forces of that country; in peace time it assumes its ordinary peacetime functions, such as the maintenance of aids to navigation, sea rescue activities, the enforcement of navigational laws at sea and along the coast and other such things.
In conclusion I would ask the Minister of Fisheries to give this matter consideration at an early day and bring it to the attention of the government.

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