John Howard Sinclair
Mr. J. H. SINCLAIR (Guysborough).
Mr. Speaker, I desire to move the motion of which I gave notice on Monday morning for the adoption of the report with regard to the investigation of the lobsteT industry. It will be known by the hon. gentlemen who have kept track of this matter that there has been a good deal of dissatisfaction on the coast of the maritime provinces for some years past in regard to this question. Certain regulations were objected to, such as the refusal of the department to grant further licenses to packers. This policy was commenced some three of four years ago, and it was felt by men who wished to start in the business for the first time that they should have an opportunity, like other people who had been formerly
engaged in the business. There was also a good deal dissatisfaction in regard to the size limit of lobsters. In some of the districts on the coast of the maritime provinces the law fixes the size limit of lobsters at eight inches. West of Halifax the limit is fixed at nine inches and in paTts of the Bay of Fundy at ten and a half inches. But the regulations regarding the enforcement of this rule were found to be difficult and almost impossible to work out. Accordingly, this matter was referred to the standing committee on Marine and Fisheries last year. The committee commenced its meetings on the 8th of March last year, a large number of meetings were held, witnesses were examined and their examinations taken down and reported to the House. The officers of the department furnished the committee with all the information that was in the possession of the department and they also submitted themselves to examination on oath. The witnesses examined by the committee were : Professor E. E. Prince, Commissioner of Fisheries; H. E. Baker, Sydney, N.S.; F. H. Cunningham, Superintendent Fish Culture; R. N. Venning, Superintendent of Fisheries; Wm. Whitman, M.P.P., Guysborough, N.S.; George Walsh, Canso, N.S.; Alexander Keating, Canso, N.S.; Lewis Connors, Blacks Harbour, N.B.; John S. Cousins, Park Corner, P.E.I.; W. F. Tid-marsh, Charlottetown, P.E.I.; John McLean, [DOT]Souris, P.E.I.; Meddie Gallant, Tig-nish, P.E.I.; Thomas Canty, Bathurst, N. B.; Onesiphore Turgeon, M.P., Gloucester, N.B.; J. J. Hughes, Souris, P.E.I.; M. H. Nickerson, M.P.P., Clarks Harbour, N.S.
These witnesses were all examined and cross-examined by the committee and their evidence was compiled, making a volume of 300 pages of printed matter, and reported to the House. The committee had not proceeded very far, however, until it appeared that they had undertaken a task of veTy considerable difficulty, and that they would require some further evidence in order to come to a correct conclusion on this question. There was a great dsal of conflict of testimony or opinion with regard to these matters and it was felt that the committee could not, by the cumbersome methods of a parliamentary inquiry, find out what would be required in order to come to an intelligent decision on this disputed question. They recommended therefore that a commissioner be appointed to travel the coasts of the four provinces on which this industry is carried on, that he hold public meetings at various points on the coast, these meetings being advertised, that all parties presenting themselves and willing to give evidence be examined and that the evidence be reported to the committee. This recommendation was carried out by the minister and Commander Wakeham, 1 the officer in charge of the gulf division of
the fisheries in the province of Quebec, was appointed by the department to perform that duty. In my opinion no better selection could have been made. Commander Wakeham's long experience in the fisheries, as an officer, and in conducting investigations and taking evidence, qualified him for the position and no one can read his report without feeling that he performed his task in a very able manner. He visited a large number of places on the coasts of the four provinces. He examined no less than 261 witnesses and no less than 175 of these witnesses were fishermen. A good many of them were representative fishermen, men who came there to disclose the views not only of themselves but of other people who were not in a position to attend personally. He began work at the Magdalene Islands on the 12th day of July, he then came across to the mainland in the province of Quebec and continued along the coast until the 22nd of September when he closed the investigation at Grand Manan, N.B. During this time, as I have said, he examined 261 witnesses, the evidence was taken down, compiled and printed and it is now before the members of the House. It comprises two volumes of 1,227 pages. From this mass of evidence the committee were endeavouring to arrive at some conclusion when it was felt that a great deal of the evidence was a matter of opinion, that many men would say that in their opinion the size of lobsters caught in their district was so and so. It was felt by the committee that something more exact and definite was required in order to ascertain with certainty what the sizes of lobsters were in the different districts where the business was carried on. The committee therefore recommended that the officers along the coast, during last season (1908), be instructed to measure the lobsters taken at the different points and report the measurements to the department. These instructions were sent out and a large number of officers were employed in different districts along the coast of the maritime provinces to make these measurements. They measured in all 600,000 lobsters down to the exactness of half an inch and they tabulated each measurement and reported these measurements to the department. From these measurements the committee have collected their information. That information of course, is exact and authentic, the officers of the department have compiled these figures and reduced them to percentages, showing the percentage of undersized lobsters caught in the different districts. From the figures thus compiled it is seen that, in some districts, of the lobsters caught more than one half were undersized. I think in one district two thirds of the lobsters taken were under , the legal size. The evidence disclosed that the Mr. SINCLAIR
rules and regulations regarding the size limit were totally disregarded and had been constantly violated ever since they were made 36 years ago, that no attempt had been made by the officers for many years-