Mr. Chairman, the natural resource which it is hoped that this treaty will restore, the sockeye salmon of the Fraser river, together with the industry resulting therefrom, is a major issue in the province of British Columbia and a very important question for the Dominion as a whole. It is hoped that under this treaty the Fraser river, a river which for many years was the greatest salmon stream in the world, a river the maximum catch of which at to-day's salmon value would probably exceed $30,000,000 or more annually, the finest salmon stream without question I think on the Pacific ocean, will be restored to its former greatness. That is the expectation of the people of my province. They have been somewhat disappointed with the long negotiations which have been carried on in connection with this problem. Last year I took a rather active part when the treaty came before the committee on marine and fisheries. The long experience which I had in the salmon business on our coast I felt rather qualified me to put my views before the committee at that time. I do not intend to delay the house very long, but I think it is opportune to refer to the present treaty, which I believe is a material improvement on the treaty that was submitted to the house last session.
In the first place, I think that the criticism offered last year as to loose draftsmanship is, in this treaty as I view it, entirely eliminated. This year's treaty appears to be more like the finished article.
The first important alteration in the treaty this year is the addition of section 1 of article I, which includes a very considerable addition to the territory placed under the direction of the commission. If time permitted I could explain to the committee the importance of this addition. Suffice it to say that I believe that this addition is absolutely essential if the efforts of the Salmon
Sockeye Salmon Fisheries
Fisheries Commission are to be effective. Without this additional territory I believe their efforts would have been largely, if not entirely, nullified.
There is one other matter in article I, which I would like to have seen somewhat altered. It has to do with the extension of the northern boundary to Lasqueti island, which involves in the jurisdiction of the commission the fishermen who catch the northern run in that section. That is a matter in which the hon. member for Comox-Alberni (Mr. Neil'l), who I regret is not in his seat is equally concerned. However, I make no serious objection because, after all, the boundaries as set must be very general. I have no doubt that in some cases it will be found when investigated that our sockeye salmon reaching the Fraser by the American route are not included in the present boundaries, and here I think will be found one section that should be omitted from the regulations of the commission being outside the area reached by such sockeyes. It is a matter affecting only the fishermen of the two constituencies I have mentioned, and I am prepared to leave it to the good intentions of the commission to deal with this matter fairly when it comes up. I am quite satisfied that the regulations they may prescribe based on their subsequent investigations will respect the interests of the fishermen in this particular section of the territory allotted to the commission.
Article 2. There is a change in this article which provides that the members of the commission shall be appointed at the pleasure of the respective governments. I think that is important. In the former treaty there was no such provision, and it was felt by some of us that the appointments would necessarily be for life. This change greatly improves this article.
Article 3. The third article in the treaty as submitted to the house last session received probably the most consideration. We contended that this article as then drawn involved, to some extent at least, the question of territorial or sovereign rights and would conflict with the power development of the Fraser river. I am pleased indeed to see that in its present form article 3 has been materially changed in both respects. As previously drawn we objected to the fact that the commission was empowered to "acquire" spawning grounds. I am pleased to see that this word does not appear in the new treaty. In this connection I wish to refer to the last paragraph of article 8 in the treaty of this year:
Each high contracting party shall acquire and place at the disposition of the commission any land within its territory required for the construction and maintenance of hatcheries, rearing ponds and other such facilities as set forth in article 3.
It might have been advisable to have made the matter a little clearer by providing that the improvements at the expiration of the treaty should belong to the high contracting party in whose territory they were located.
I might add that the Fraser river is the only fresh water included in the treaty, and consequently is the only section that is affected by this paragraph. However, the present paragraph is very good indeed and pretty well clears up the question. I notice that the paragraph refers to each high contracting party, and thereby the United States accepts the principle as well as Canada.
In article 4 it will be noted that the period within which the commission is empowered to limit or prohibit fishing is not limited this year. In last year's treaty it read:
That the commission is hereby empowered from June 1st, to August 20th, to limit and prohibit fishing, etc.
I think it highly desirable that the commission should be given unlimited power in that regard, particularly having regard to the division of the catch.
Article 6. There is a very important change here. In the treaty of 1929 this section read: That no action taken by the commission under the authority of articles 4 and 5 of this convention shall be effective unless affirmatively voted for by at least two of the commissioners from each country.
This omitted section three in last year's treaty.
In the treaty this year it will be observed that the approval of two out of three of the commissioners of each country is necessary before anything can be affirmatively voted on. This is a safeguard to both countries, and I think it is an assurance that the commission will be conducted along lines satisfactory both to Canada and the United States.
Article 7 has to do with the division of the catch. This has caused much concern among those interested in the industry. They have grave doubts as to the ability of the commission to divide the catch equally between the two countries. I think, this matter will have to be left to the good faith of the commission. It is about the only way I see of dealing with it. I am sure it will not be possible for any commission to make an exact division each and every year. I assume that in all fairness they will take the current year with the preceding year and endeavour
Sockeye Salmon Fisheries
to the best of their ability to divide up the catch equitably between the fishermen of the two countries over the period.
Article 10, I presume, is necessary on account of the inclusion in the treaty of the territory covered by section one of article 1. I think that will be found to agree almost, if not entirely, with the provision in the halibut treaty, and as such presumably it is acceptable to all interests. It is a marine matter that I do not feel competent to pass upon.
Now, from the practical standpoint, I take it that in negotiating treaties there must be give and take between both countries. Neither one high contracting party nor the other can get all it wants. We have had long drawn out negotiations in connection with a treaty for the great Fraser river, and it is my considered opinion that this treaty is now about as satisfactory as we can expect. Of course, the success of this or any similar treaty will depend almost entirely on the good faith of the high contracting parties. In any event we cannot be any worse off under this treaty than we are at the present time.
As I said at the beginning of my remarks the Fraser river has in the past been a wonderful stream. It has produced millions of cases of salmon. In fact, as described by a gentleman whom I met a few days ago, about forty-five years ago when he knew it, it seemed as though one could walk across the river on the fish, and I may tell hon. members that the river is a mile wide. What is the situation today? Through the lack of proper protection the fish in that stream have been almost exterminated. I refer to neither one political party nor another, but I wish to say in all kindness that the failure of the fishing industry on the British Columbia coast has been due largely to the fact that for the last quarter of a century it has been used as a political football. I make that statement advisedly, because for many years I was engaged in the business. I am quite sure there is nobody in our province and I hope there is no member in this committee who expects that this treaty can be put into effect without inconveniencing and discommoding certain interests. If we are going to bring about the restoration of the run of fish in the Fraser river we must have conditions different from what they have been in the past. I notice in this treaty a slight alteration from last year's treaty which is no doubt a proper one; I refer to the omission of the appointment of the commissioner of fisheries in the United States, as one of the United States commissioners. At the present time that position is held by Mr. O'Malley. I would like to say a
word about Mr. O'Malley, because I think members of the committee ought to know something about him. I have no doubt that he will be one of the American commissioners on this treaty, and undoubtedly he is the best qualified man on this continent to deal with the restoration of salmon fisheries.
Topic: SOCKEYE SALMON FISHERIES
Subtopic: TREATY BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED STATES