I think that I have spoken
at greater length to-day than I have done during the whole of the present session. It is really the first day that I have been impelled to speak, and because of the importance of this vote, nothing can stop me, not even one of those up-to-date machines that can tear down forests, such as the hon. member for North Vancouver was telling us about the other evening when talking of the Peace River.
We are discussing to-night one of the most important treaties that Canada has entered into for many years. In the articles of that treaty there are three outstanding phrases, which, if given effect to would assure tO' Canada the perpetuation of the greatest fishing industry in the world. There is no part of the world that has a greater halibut industry than Canada. Let me briefly sum it up for those who are ignorant of the possibilities of the halibut fishing industry. The world's annual production of halibut to-day is 90,000,000 pounds. Halibut is the most highly prized fish food that the world knows. It is found on the Atlantic and the Pacific coasts. Of that 90,000,000 pounds produced annually we are producing in British Columbia waters,
50,000,000 pounds. What does that mean? It means that we are contributing to the world supply of this highly prized fish, sixty per cent annually.
The story of the halibut banks and their exploitation is one of the most thrilling that anyone could ever read. No novel has yet been written of it, but one shall be written some day, and it will be the pride of British Columbia to know that she contributes one of the ffloi interesting chapters in this country of romance. What was the origin of the halibut industry? It goes back to the year 1888. It started at Cape Flattery and extended until in the year 1910 it included 600 miles of the British Columbia coast. Between 1888 and 1910 more halibut were caught in those 600 miles than are being taken to-day with the area extended to 1,800 miles. Every member of parliament knows the map of Canada. Cast your eye to-night from Cape Mendocina, the first cape from the Panama, and travel up to Cape St. James at the
southern extremity of the Queen Charlotte islands. That stretch from 1888 to 1910 produced the greatest halibut return that the world has ever known. Where are we today? Follow from Cape St. James up to Cape St. Spencer in Alaska and then to the Aleutian islands. What is the return to-day in that stretch of 1,800 miles of water, even with the most up-to-date devices for catching halibut? We are catching forty per cent less halibut to-day than we were in 1910.
No man, I think, Should get up in this house and speak unless he has something constructive to say. I want to get behind this halibut treaty and to bring home to hon. members a few facts respecting the appalling toll that is being taken of our halibut. Are hon. gentlemen aware that there is no scientific method by which halibut breeding grounds may be developed? We have spawning grounds for salmon; we can propagate salmon under the most unfavourable conditions; but we know of no natural law under which we can propagate halibut.
Subtopic: MARINE AND FISHERIES