CHAPTER VI.--THE FISHERIES.
III.--PARTICULAR SURVEY OF THE INDIVIDUAL BRANCHES OF THE INDUSTRY.
1. Salt cod-fish.
326. In normal times
the price obtained for good-class salt cod-fish warrants its production;
the saturation point for this product has almost certainly not yet been
reached, and for many years to come almost all Newfoundland's cod-fish must
continue to be marketed in this form, owing to the almost total lack of a
fresh-fish market and to the scattered nature of the fishery. Great hopes
have more than once been entertained of finding in the United States an
outlet for fresh fish, but the prohibitive tariff imposed on Newfoundland
products in that country and the difficulty of transportation have so far
killed all enterprise in that direction. A limited market for fresh-frozen
cod-fish may be capable of development in the United Kingdom, which at
present imports fresh cod from Iceland, Norway and Denmark. But here again
difficulties of transportation, and the lack of adequate freezing apparatus,
are formidable obstacles. It must be remembered also that fresh cod is a
cheap fish in the United Kingdom.
The loss by Newfoundland of first place in the markets for
heavy-salted fish had been due to faults in curing and absence of marketing
organisation. Both these defects can be remedied.
2. Cod-Liver Oil.
327. The production of
cod-liver oil (including cod oil) in Newfoundland averages about 1,200,000
gallons per annum. Most of the oil is marketed in the form of cod (industrial)
oil, the lowest quality. Approximately one-fifth, say 250,000 gallons, more
or less, is however prepared as No. 1 (Medicinal) and No. 2 (Poultry) Oil.
The principal market for Newfoundland oil is the United States. Over
2,000,000 gallons of oil of all sorts were produced in 1918. Since then
the output has varied between 800,000 and 1,600,000 gallons, and the price
between $0.58 and $1.35 a gallon.
328. Under the Trade
Agreement concluded at Ottawa in 1932 between the Governments of Newfoundland
and the United Kingdom, the latter undertook to impose an import duty of 1s.
4d. a gallon on foreign cod-liver oil entering the United Kingdom.*
The preference thus enjoyed by Newfoundland oil in the United Kingdom
market should be of great assistance to the local industry. It is particularly
unfortunate that in the first year in which this new outlet has been available
the production of oil in Newfoundland should have been handicapped by the
almost unprecedented failure of a large section of the shore fishery. It
is estimated that the total amount of refined oil produced during 1933 will
be very considerably reduced, and that there will be a corresponding decline
in production of the unrefined quality. The total production of all sorts
may be the lowest figure recorded for forty years. It is hoped, however,
that in the course of the next few years the production of medicinal and
poultry oil, as opposed to industrial oil, will be greatly increased and that
in place of the annual average of 250,000 gallons, an export figure of 750,000
gallons will be reached. Steps are in contemplation to ensure that no oil is
to be exported except under licence from the Government; that oils are bulked,
blended according to their properties and standardised before export; and that
suitable safeguards are introduced with a view to the retention and expansion
of Newfoundland's share of the United Kingdom market.
329. Of late years
there has been a great increase in the exports to the United Kingdom of
chilled salmon from the Newfoundland and Labrador coasts. Chilled salmon
are also exported in considerable quantity to Canada and the United States.
The total exports each year since the War are shown in the following table.
Of these exports about two-thirds has been taken by the United Kingdom.
||Chateau [sic] Bay, Labrador, n.d.
Photographer unknown. From the album of photographs furnished to the Newfoundland Royal Commission, August 1933. Courtesy of the Centre for Newfoundland Studies Archives (Coll-207),
Memorial University of Newfoundland Library, St. John's, Newfoundland.
330. If the attendant
difficulties are taken into consideration, it may be said that the industry
is being well prosecuted. Newfoundland and Labrador salmon are akin to the
salmon of Scotland, and the Island provides probably the best quality of
frozen salmon known to the United Kingdom trade. It must be pointed out,
however, that the stocks of salmon are not inexhaustible, and that experience
has already shown that the industry is being operated at what probably
approximates to the point of maximum production, say an average of 2,500,000
lb. annually. Competition is sufficiently severe to sustain and improve the
quality of the fish exported.
331. In view of the salmon
resources of Newfoundland and Labrador, it is surprising to find that very
little salmon is canned. This is due partly to lack of modern canning
facilities in the outports and partly to the unremunerative prices so far
obtained abroad. There are, however, considerable quantities of grilse
(small salmon) which could be canned at a profit, particularly at a point
like St. Anthony in the north of the Island, and possibly also at Battle
Harbour and Cartwright in Labrador, where the fish can be secured cheaply
without endangering the large local supply. Even in the south-east of the
Island, tests by the Fisheries Research Laboratory have shown that, long after
the commercial nets have been withdrawn, there is a considerable run of smaller
fish suitable for this purpose.
332. The salmon is a fish
which is particularly susceptible to depletion in numbers. It is therefore of
the highest importance that a biological analysis of the stock should be
continuously maintained. Measures should also be taken regularly, on a
small scale, to improve the spawning facilities in rivers, e.g., by the
creation of salmon ladders. We have reason to believe that illicit fishing,
by nets and jiggers, has increased in recent years, particularly on the west
coast; this is a danger which must be carefully watched.
* See Appendix K.
Image description updated May, 2004.