April 4, 1949

PC

George Clyde Nowlan

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Nowlan:

In short, the situation, as far as the inshore fishermen are concerned, is that their bait has disappeared, and it is a strange circumstance. The bait has disappeared apparently at the same time that seiners or trawlers operating from New Brunswick across the bay have been coming into the Annapolis basin and seining up hundreds and thousands of hogsheads of small herring which ultimately are prepared for use as food. I understand from communications I have had from the minister, and undoubtedly he believes this, that his experts have advised him that seining has no effect upon the bait situation. That may be. I quite realize that what may appear reasonable to a layman may not be proven satisfactorily to an expert, but I suggest that it is a strange thing that this has happened.

In December of 1948 and January of 1949 one weir operating in the Annapolis basin caught 400 barrels of bait which was distributed to the fishermen of that district. The seiners appeared from across the bay,

Supply-Fisheries

and immediately the fish disappeared from the weir. I am reliably informed by fishermen, whose names I can give to the minister, that from that time on they have not caught any bait in the weir. Five seiners have been operating in the basin catching these small herring, and three carriers have been transporting them across the bay of Fundy to the canning plant in New Brunswick.

As I said, I am not going to quarrel with the experts, but I suggest to the minister that to the layman there seems to be some cause and effect in this matter. I am not so sure whether the cause and effect may not have some relation to the fact that the man who owns the seiners occupies a position not too many hundred feet away from where we sit at the present time, and is very prominent in the councils of the party opposite. That may not have anything to do with it, but it is a very strange thing that these seiners are permitted to operate when trawlers, as I pointed out before, are forbidden to fish within twelve miles of our coast.

It may be that the fishermen do not know what they are talking about. I can quite believe that they may be honestly mistaken, that there is some scientific explanation, but I suggest to the minister that the easiest way to clean it up is to forbid seiners from operating within the basin. He has the power to do it. The licence can be endorsed as licences are now endorsed to the effect that trawlers are prohibited from fishing within twelve miles of the coast line. Certainly seiners could be prohibited from fishing within a quarter of a mile of a weir operated by inshore fishermen. If that is done for a period of two or three years, and the bait situation remains serious, then the fishermen will have to admit that they are wrong, and they will have to bow to the judgment of the experts. Until that is done they are not going to be satisfied. When you have a situation where the bait has fallen off to less than two per cent of what it was before the seiners arrived, I suggest from a practical standpoint that there is something there which warrants the attention of the minister. I will not take any further time now, but I am telling him seriously that, when this matter is before us again on his other estimates, unless some action is promised probably we shall have to spend much more time on the question than we are taking now.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES
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LIB

Andrew Wesley Stuart

Liberal

Mr. Stuart (Charlotte):

If you go back through the history of the sardine and herring industry I think you will find that ever since it has been established we have had years when these fish were in very short supply. The past six or eight months has been one of these seasons of scarcity. I know in my

Supply-Fisheries

own county this winter we have been unable to get a supply sufficient to keep the canneries going tor more than one-third of the time. That condition has prevailed on many occasions in years gone by, and I am afraid it will prevail again in future.

I should like to clarify the hon. member's statement in connection with seiners. There are many of these people in my own county. Nine out of ten own their own boats and gear, and you will not find a more rugged bunch of fishermen anywhere in the maritime provinces. If sardines are to be caught at Digby or Grand Manan or anywhere else in the maritime provinces, you will find these boats on the job winter and summer. The hon. gentleman mentioned the sardines taken at Digby. I guarantee that more sardines are taken at Charlottetown in one day than would be caught at Digby in one year; and that happens year after year. I am not saying that purse seining may not be harmful to some extent, in the sardine industry; I am not in a position to argue that point; but this type of fishing has been carried on in my county for about ten years. In 1947 we had one of the biggest years in our history followed by another big year in 1948, but since last December sardines have been very scarce. Just in passing I might say that I remember seeing records which showed that 1890 was a year of great scarcity in the sardine industry on the east coast. At that time there would be no danger of purse seining interfering because then the fish were all caught in sardine weirs.

I wanted to clarify the position of the seiners, most of whom own their own boats and purse seines, and whose equipment is second to none. They are not looking for charity. They are men who are out working winter and summer, doing a very fine job.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES
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PC

George Randolph Pearkes

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Pearkes:

I appreciate the fact that the fishermen on the Atlantic coast need bait, and if there is a surplus of herring on the Pacific coast it would be very good practice to send that surplus to the Atlantic. We want to be quite certain, however, that in so doing we are not depriving industries on the Pacific coast, and that we are getting a fair price for the herring shipped to Nova Scotia for use as bait. The price mentioned by the minister of $60 a ton is only about half the normal price paid on the Pacific coast for frozen herring, since 5 cents a pound is regarded as about normal.

The sale of herring for use as bait is by no means the only use made of that catch. After receiving various letters from feed merchants on Vancouver island, both in my own constituency and the constituency repre-

sented by the minister, in regard to the difficulty of getting fish meal, a few days ago I asked the Minister of Agriculture a question about the supplies of that commodity. On March 31, after having consulted the officials of his department, he stated that in comparison with the last two or three seasons, comparatively few herring had been canned, the catch being used mainly for oil and meal. He said almost 31,000 tons of fish meal were produced, the highest on record, and that supplies for the market served by the Pacific coast fisheries were good. Prices remained firm, indicating that the demand is also good.

I would like to call attention to the fact that only small quantities have been canned, and that comparatively few herring have been used for the production of fish meal. I said I had received letters from feed merchants on the Pacific coast pointing out that they were short of fish meal for use in poultry laying mash. In a letter I received only a few days ago I am told that they now have to pay $200 a ton for fish meal, which is about twice what had to be paid for this product only a couple of years ago. I have another letter telling me of the prices now asked for laying mash of which fish meal is an essential ingredient. In 1947 such mash was sold at the feed stores for $49 a ton. This year it is $85 a ton; in other words it has almost doubled in price in two years. I know there are many reasons for this, and certainly one of those reasons is the shortage of fish meal and the increase in price. That results from the fact that only a small share of the herring caught on the Pacific coast is being used to produce a commodity which is urgently needed in that area.

Then again, the fish salteries on the gulf islands in my constituency, where herring were dried, salted, cured and shipped to China, are all idle. They have been closed for many years. Inquiries were made as to whether or not it would be possible to revive that industry, which might open up a better market for the fishermen than having the herring shipped to the Atlantic coast for use as bait, which would also entail the payment of transportation charges by the government. That might be well worth investigating. Then I feel that we must take very seriously the warning given by the previous speaker with respect to the use of various types of trawlers in the waters around Vancouver island. I know the officials of the minister's department have been con-. sidering for a number of years whether or not limitations should be placed on the auto trawlers and beam trawlers which operate between Vancouver island and the mainland. Not only the fishermen but also many scientists claim that these trawlers are doing con-

siderable damage to young herring spawn in these waters. Certain prohibitions have been imposed upon the use of the auto trawler in these particular waters off the east coast of Vancouver island, from which these herring are shipped. I do think we should take very seriously the warning which has been given from the Atlantic coast where, owing to the use of certain types of fishing equipment, they have lost their catch of bait. We have to take what must be considered an uneconomical step by shipping bait from the Pacific to the Atlantic coast. If we are not careful we shall find we are in exactly the same position on the Pacific coast. If steps are not taken to conserve the catch of herring and prevent that type of fish from being destroyed when they are immature, that is what will happen.

I would therefore ask the minister to give very careful consideration to the various points I have raised, namely, that this is not the most economical or the most profitable means of handling our herring on the Pacific coast; secondly, that the fact that we are exporting such great quantities of herring from the Pacific coast has created a shortage of poultry food which is urgently needed by the poultry producers on the Pacific coast; thirdly, the question of conserving our herring by prohibiting the use of destructive equipment in those waters in which the herring remain.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES
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LIB

Robert Wellington Mayhew (Minister of Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. Mayhew:

I think I should answer the hon. member's question, although I do not want to delay my own estimates. He is quite wrong in most of what he has had to say, but probably that is due to Easter coming or lent being over. The fishermen did not catch less fish because of these 1,800,000 pounds of herring that went to the east coast. They had their full quota. Our boats explored the situation on both the east and the west coasts and it was our belief that we could reasonably let this quantity of herring go to the Atlantic coast for bait. In addition to that, the season was lengthened and some 40,000 tons extra were caught on the west coast, so that they got more than their ordinary quota. Most of that went into bait and into cans. I was not aware that any of it went into oil cans. They had a carryover from last year and that is the reason there was none put up this year.

I believe this was a proper act. When there was a shortage of bait on the Atlantic coast it was proper for us to ship this bait to them at the prices that were obtained and I would be very glad to do it again. I only hope that the time never arrives when we shall have to request something from the Atlantic coast. I remember quite well that there were years when the herring on the

Supply-Fisheries

Pacific coast were in short supply. This year there was a phenomenal run of herring on the Pacific coast but there were few on the Atlantic coast.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES
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PC

George Black

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Black (Yukon):

Perhaps the minister would inform the committee whether any arrangements are being made for the repayment of this vote. Is this money being made available to the fishermen of Nova Scotia to go fishing with British Columbia bait or is it an outright gift? Is the government now supplying bait so that fishermen can go fishing?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES
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LIB

Robert Wellington Mayhew (Minister of Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. Mayhew:

If they have not sufficient bait with which to go fishing, I would be glad to supply it. I would recommend once more that something be done so that the industry on the Atlantic coast could be maintained just the same as the industry on the Pacific coast.

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PC

George Black

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Black (Yukon):

It is public money with which the minister is being so generous. I think he ought to make arrangements to have it returned.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES
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LIB

Robert Wellington Mayhew (Minister of Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. Mayhew:

It would be a greater disaster if the people on the Atlantic coast could not fish for want of bait.

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LIB

George Alexander Cruickshank

Liberal

Mr. Cruickshank:

It is my understanding that, unfortunately, the maritimers did not have the necessary bait. I can quite appreciate the fact that these fishermen would not have as good a catch with maritime bait as they would have with bait from British Columbia. I want to point out that my understanding of this is that through some misunderstanding or some mistake, not on the part of the government or of the federal department of fisheries, these fishermen did not have bait reserved. Of course we appreciate, Mr. Chairman, that with British Columbia bait you could catch more fish than you could with bait from any other place in the world. I believe the government of Canada paid a subsidy of so much a pound to provide the necessary bait so that the maritime fishermen would be able to carry on and support their families for the rest of the year.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES
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LIB

Loran Ellis Baker (Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. Baker:

May I just say a few words on this question. The circumstances this year were unusual and there was a great shortage of bait. Next year there might be an overage. The minister certainly did the right thing in rendering this assistance, just as the dominion government rendered assistance at the time of the disastrous floods in the Fraser valley or for prairie farm rehabilitation or anything else that might be needed from time to time to provide assistance which cannot be provided by the individual.

I might also say that 1,800,000 pounds of herring is not a tremendous quantity. The

Supply-Labour

supplies on the west coast have not been materially decreased. I congratulate the minister on the forethought he has shown, which has enabled our fishermen to continue their work until such time as they too have large quantities of herring. Perhaps some day the maritimes will be able to supply the west coast with herring. I can tell you we will be very glad to sell them to you if we have any.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES
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PC

Winfield Chester Scott McLure

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McLure:

Is this subsidy going to be continued? I just answered a telephone call a few moments ago from the fishermen's union and they desired to know whether they could still take advantage of this and continue to get bait for the next month?

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES
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LIB

Robert Wellington Mayhew (Minister of Fisheries)

Liberal

Mr. Mayhew:

I understand there is plenty of bait in Newfoundland. No herring are running on the west coast now and what herring we have would not be suitable for bait. It will therefore have to be discontinued.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES
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Item agreed to.


DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR


587. Departmental administration-further amount required, $17,500.


PC

Charles Cecil Ingersoll Merritt

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Merritt:

I should like to ask the Minister of Labour a question on this item. Early in the session, during the speech from the throne and in questions on the orders of the day, the unemployment situation which develops in Vancouver each winter was brought to the attention of the minister. On the 14th of March he made a statement in which he indicated that that situation was clearing up because logging camps were opening, and so on. He indicated everything would be well. In that statement he did say that 6,000 of the 25,000 unemployed in Vancouver early in March had come from outside the city and that two-thirds of those came from outside the province.

Other members of the house as well as I have called the minister's attention to the fact that the burden of the unemployed who do not qualify for unemployment insurance and who are in distress falls entirely upon the city or upon private agencies in the city who raise their money for other social service work. On March 14 the minister gave us no comfort at all in our suggestion that the dominion government should carry out its proposals put forward in the green book and should supply unemployment assistance to take care of the class of employable unemployed who, for one reason or another, are not in receipt of unemployment insurance. The minister made some sensible statements about people being responsible for themselves, and said that he had not taken

a cent in all his years in the country. I congratulate him on his statements and on his own condition. But the point that I am bringing to his attention is that when men get into distress somebody must look after them; and the city of Vancouver, year after year, is finding it too great a strain upon its private social service agencies to meet the situation.

Once more I want to refer the minister to the green book, where the dominion government offered to the provinces that they would take over responsibility for the employable unemployed by way of unemployment assistance up to eighty-five per cent of the unemployment insurance rates; and I want to ask him if he will assure the house that before the next seasonal unemployment sets in in Vancouver we shall have that offer implemented and shall have the dominion government, not the city of Vancouver, taking care of the people who do not normally live in Vancouver.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Hon. Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour):

In the first place, Mr. Chairman, as my hon. friend knows, I cannot give him any assurance. Any government policy will be announced at the proper time. The hon. member mentioned the green book, which I understand was predicated on an agreement with the respective provinces right across the dominion, and that may be argued one way or the other. I think that what I predicted a month or six weeks ago has more or less come to pass. My hon. friend knows as well as I do, as do all hon. members from British Columbia, that there is a difficult situation there through the movement of people from the other provinces, particularly in the winter. The same problem is met with in Florida and California. I think one must have due regard to that fact, because it is only a matter of degree how you get to a place. But when you get there, and when you go on your own responsibility, I again repeat that you should not ask somebody else to take care of you. This is my view. I do not know how you can change it. I cannot stop the sun from shining. You cannot pass legislation to prevent the weather being warmer in British Columbia than it is in the rest of Canada during the winter.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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LIB
LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. Mitchell:

That may be true. That is a matter of opinion. As for myself, I would rather live in Ontario.

Topic:   DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
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PC

April 4, 1949