I have not the figures under my hand, nor do I think it possible to secure figures giving accurately the catch of fish in any statistical work published by the department. A great deal of what would be valuable statistical matter, if accurate, is obtained by the department from year 'to year, but I fear that in this connection very little importance can be attached to those statistics because they are _not altogether reliable. The same condition prevailed in Great Britain a few years ago, and when it was brought to the attention of the particular board or department having charge of such matters, the suggestion was at first scoffed at that anything could be wrong in connection with the statistics published; but a most careful and complete investigation showed that these figures, published from year to year, were absolutely without value, and, upon the best information which I can obtain, the statistics regarding our Atlantic fisheries are to-day utterly valueless as giving any accurate idea of the total catch of fish or its market value. Let me point out one instance in which these returns are untrustworthy. A certain quantity of fish is caught and later on the fish is dried and exported as dry fish. The fishery officer comes along and asks each fisherman how many thousand pounds of green Mr. JAMESON.
fish he has caught, and takes down his reply. Then he goes to the man who cures these fish and asks him how many cured fish he has handled during the year, and this man says so many thousand quintals. The fishery officer then adds the total of green and cured fish together, and thus, in many cases, double the quantity of fish actually caught is included in the total column. I am not saying that any particular blame attaches to the fishery officers or the department. The practice is one which has grown up and which is due more or less to the fact that it has been found very difficult indeed to get reliable information of this character. So that it is high time, if we are to make these statistics of any value to the country, that a careful revision of the work should be undertaken; and no better means for doing that could be found than this committee which my hon. friend from Guysborough (Mr. Sinclair) has suggested. The fact that there has been a decline in the fishing industry of the maritime provinces is one to which I wish to draw particular attention. That they are declining many of our fishermen are ready to admit and at least throughout Nova Scotia, our fishermen have for some time become alive to the fact that some change is necessary, if they are to get the most profit that can be had out of the fisheries. With that obect in view they have associated themselves together at the different fishing stations along the coast into organizations known as Fishermen's Unions. These unions meet together from time to time to discuss everything relating to their interests and frame resolutions. Then, annually or more frequently, delegates from these unions meet and endeavour to harmonize the resolutions which have been passed by the various local committees or unions and transmit them, perhaps I might say for the benefit of the department, at least I can say for the benefit of those concerned. In this connection, I wish to pay a tribute to the gentleman who was instrumental in having these unions organized and who, I was informed almost single-handed, carried through the legislature of Nova Scotia the Act under which they have come into existence. That gentleman is Mr. M. H. Nickerson, a member of the legislative assembly of Nova Scotia, sitting, I think, for the county of Shelburne.
There has been, throughout the province of Nova Scotia, an agitation on the part of many interested in the fisheries in favour of the creation of what is known as a fishery board, after the pattern of the board of that name which exists in Scotland. I am not personally inclined, with the information I have under my hand and with such study as I have been able to give to the work which the Scotch fishery board has carried into effect, to say that I would advise the creation of just such a board at this
moment but it is a fair subject for careful consideration. The conditions in Scotland differ very considerably from those in Canada with respect to the legislative status of the board. In Canada, we have the administration of the fisheries under a department of the government and the department should do practically what the fishery board might be expected to do, with the exception, perhaps, that the Fishery Board of Scotland is composed in part of men appointed to represent the fishermen themselves. That fishery board is composed of seven members, four representing the fishermen, one a legal adviser, one an expert, and the chairman. The chairman is the only one who receives a salary, the others getting only their travelling expenses. The object of the fishery board in Nova Scotia, if created, would be, briefly, to remove, if possible, the administration of the fisheries absolutely from the caldron of party politics. That, I think, is a condition which, gentlemen on both sides of the House will admit, is most desirable. Then, they would endeavour to devise and frame suitable regulations with respect to the fisheries and would see to the proper enforcement of these regulations. They would also establish a standard pack and package in connection with the fisheries. Some of the fish which are put up in Nova Scotia are not of as high quality as they might be, or as are put up in some other countries while some are of the very highest quality. This possibly, is owing to the fact that no standard of cure, or pack, or package, has ever been established- That course would necessarily be along educational lines, which would be most desirable, and could well be carried out through the medium of these fishermen's unions, to which I made passing reference a moment ago. Another object of the fishery board would be to seek wider and more profitable markets for the product of our fisheries. That is something most devoutly to be desired. As it is now, the ordinary fisherman has no market beyond the purely local one; but through the medium of these fishermen's unions some plan might be devised whereby a more cooperative work could be carried out, so that the fishermen would gain greater profit from his labour. And let me tell the hon. members of this House that the fishermen are worthy of the utmost consideration that can be bestowed upon them, and that any assistance that can be rendered them by the administration of the day or through the medium of this standing committee would be no more than they are properly entitled to. They are men who, day after day, and year after year, are obliged to go out, and, at the risk of their lives and property, endeavour to win a livelihood for themselves and their families from the turbulent sea. I know that in my own county there are a large number of men who are
fishing throughout the entire year; and to prosecute the fisheries in the winter season on the rugged and blustery Atlantic coast or in the Bay of Fundy is certainly no child's play. The man who follows such a life needs a hardy frame, strong limbs, and the heart of a lion.
Now, I wish to refer, before closing, to a new feature which has developed in respect to the in-shore fisheries of certain parts of Nova Scotia and more especially within my own knowledge, to those of the western part of the province: that is, the doing away with the old-time sailboat and adopting in its stead the more noisy but more profitable vessel propelled by a gasolene engine. In a speech made in this House a year or two ago, in moving a motion similar to that now before the House, the hon. member for Guysborougli (Mr. Sinclair) said, or quoted from some writer who said, that the initial cost of embarking upon the inshore fisheries was comparatively insignificant, that all that was necessary was a boat, a few nets, or lines and hooks, and a tub of bait. Conditions have changed in the fisheries, as in almost everything else, and to-day, the fishermen who win their livelihood from the sea have to adopt modern methods and bring their appliances strictly up to date. The cost of a staunch and fairly roomy fishing boat now is much greater than it was even four or five years ago, because it must be made strong enough to carry the gasolene engine. Then, the cost of the engine itself is very considerable, and the expense of operating it amounts to from 25 to 50 cents a day. So, hon. gentlemen will see that the fishing which is prosecuted now throughout the entire year, entails a much greater expense to the individual who carries it on than when sailboats only were used. And the advantage, not only to the fishermen themselves, but to the country, is that in .using these boats they can go out even against an adverse wind, and can get off at almost any time of the tide, and in that way many valuable days are saved and the fishermen are enabled to take advantage of the slack tide to* ply their avocation, which they could not always do in the old-time sail boat.
In conclusion, I heartily endorse the motion of the hon. member for Guysborough in favour of the appointment of this committee. Perhaps I have trespassed unduly upon the time of the House in speaking as I have. As a new member, perhaps I am scarcely justified in occupying so much time. My apology for taking up the time of the House is the importance of this matter from the standpoint of the people of the county I represent, and of many other counties in the province of Nova Scotia. I trust it will be the aim of hon. gentlemen on both sides of the House to unite in an earnest effort to put this industry upon the best possible basis, in order that the fishermen as
individuals, and the country generally, may benefit and prosper thereby.
Topic: DEVELOPMENT OF OUE FISHEEIES.