I also was on the
special committee last session to which the original treaty was referred, and I presume I was placed on that committee because I have lived on the banks of the Fraser river for some forty years, and particularly during recent years I have been closely in touch with the fishermen on that river. It is true that there are not as many men engaged in the industry as there were some years ago; however, last year 1,473 licences were issued in
Sockeye Salmon Fisheries
the Fraser river district; that means that there were twice as many, or over 2,800 men engaged in fishing on the Fraser river, because there are two men to each boat. About 400 of those licences were issued to Japanese. The number of Japanese engaged in the fishing industry has been greatly decreased and at the present time the large majority of fishermen in British Columbia waters are of the white race. That is a condition which no doubt all hon. members will agree should prevail. Last year I was somewhat critical of the treaty which was submitted to us, and in that respect I think I had the support of the fishermen of the Fraser river, because after I returned to New Westminster they held a meeting of their organization and at its conclusion by standing vote they unanimously approved of the stand I had taken. I am pleased to say that this year we have a treaty which is quite different in many important particulars from the one which was first submitted; I think there has been a great deal of improvement, and for that reason I do not think I am called upon to oppose the treaty. On the contrary, I think it represents a step in the right direction; I hope it will work out to the advantage of Canada and result more particularly in the restoration of the sockeye salmon run on the Fraser river. There was a time when that run was very extensive. In the year 1913 there was a pack of sockeye salmon on the Fraser river amounting to about 900.000 cases. The largest pack we have had since that time has been only about 60,000 cases. From those figures it is very easy to judge the extent of depletion, and what that depletion has meant to Canada and to those engaged in the industry. I do not wish the committee to understand that there is any real conflict between the fishermen and those engaged in the canning industry; I think they are both imbued with the same ideas and are both interested in the restoration of the run of sockeye salmon; it means a livelihood to the fishermen. Without the sockeye fishing I am afraid it would be very difficult for the fishermen on the Fraser river to eke out an existence.
Now, what is going to happen? I fear that this treaty will have a very injurious effect on the men who are engaged in the industry at the present time. It may be that as a result of this treaty, at the end of sixteen years, or later or perhaps earlier, there will be a partial or perhaps an entire restoration of the run that we previously had, but in the meantime these men have to carry on their work. They all have their boats, and these are not 2419-177
ordinary row boats; they are quite expensive gasoline boats which have expensive gear. The investment of each of these 1,473 men amounts to a great deal. I am afraid it is just possible that these men who are engaged in the industry at the present time are going to suffer to a great extent. The hon. member for North Vancouver has spoken of the division of the fish. That is covered by article 7, which reads as follows:
Inasmuch as the purpose of this convention is to establish for the high contracting parties, by their joint effort and expense, a fishery that is now largely non-existent, it is agreed by the high contracting parties that they should share equally in the fishery. The commission shall, consequently, regulate the fishery with a view to allowing, as nearly as may be practicable, an equal portion of the fish that may be caught each year to be taken by the fishermen of each high contracting party.
The great difficulty in that connection, as I see it, is that fishing is carried on in United States waters by means of traps. I am not going to take the time of the house to explain what these traps are like; suffice it to say that by the use of traps they carry on in American waters wholesale fishing. On our side of the line we have practically no traps; all the fishing is carried on by nets operated by the fisherman, and you might say on the Canadian side we have retail fishing. Under this treaty the difficulty is going to be for the commission to see that the Canadians will catch as many fish as the Americans. I am afraid that by the use of traps it will be much easier for the Americans to get their allowance, and I am afraid that the Canadians will not be able to get their share with the present methods in use.
Let me say just here that I would strongly deprecate the abolition of the gill net fishing on the Canadian side and the adoption of traps as the proper method of fishing. It would put out of employment a great many men and I think that is something we should not try to encourage. It may be said that there will not be so much difficulty in connection with the division of fish, but in that connection I should like to refer to some remarks made by the deputy minister of Fisheries last year before the committee. I would refer first to page 85 of the proceedings of Tuesday, May 28, 1929, and Wednesday, May 29, 1929, as follows:
By Mr. McQuarrie:
Q. The idea is that, in order to regulate and bring about this 50-50 division, the fisheries will be alternately closed on one side or the other, as the case may be? I want to submit to you-we will say, the Canadians are getting behind, as they usually do in matters of this kind, having in view the geography and the
Sockeye Salmon Fisheries
question of the priority of the American fishermen-it would require the Americans to close down their traps and seines, and in that event, could not the Americans say: "The escapement of fish is ample in the Fraser river for propagating purposes; we object to closing down because the Canadians have not enough equipment to catoh their 50 per cent"? Is that not one of the things which might come up?
A. That may be one of the main difficulties with which the commission will have to deal, but the federal government of the United States undertakes by this treaty to see that the regulations provided by the commission are carried out.
Then at page 95 there is another question by myself, as follows:
Q. What will happen if the Americans get more fish than the Canadians?
A. Well, Mr. Chairman, the duty of the commission will be to see that they do not. As I said a little while ago, the commission will have my sympathy. It will be quite impossible to say that we will get 50 fish on the one side and 50 on the other. It must be as near as possible that that be done.
Of course it will be difficult; I do not see how it is going to be done in any reasonable way. I am afraid our fishermen are going to suffer by this treaty. I am afraid this matter will work out in such a way that it will cause the adoption of traps in Canadian waters for the purpose of enabling Canada to catch its proper proportion of the fish. In that event what is going to happen, to our fishermen?
Topic: SOCKEYE SALMON FISHERIES
Subtopic: TREATY BETWEEN CANADA AND THE UNITED STATES