April 8, 1957 (22nd Parliament, 5th Session)


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.

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