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.

3. Salmon.

  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 Bay 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.
Larger Version (54 kb)

Year.
Quantity Exported.
lb.
Value.
$
1919-20
1920-21
1921-22
1922-23
1923-24
1924-25
1925-26
1926-27
1927-28
1928-29
1929-30
1930-31
1931-32
1932-33
......................
......................
......................
......................
......................
......................
......................
......................
......................
......................
......................
......................
......................
......................
  222,335
  596,520
  810,340
1,304,125
1,589,278
  613,448
1,041,252
2,063,665
1,978,286
1,463,692
3,970,481
4,804,658
2,353,463
2,288,384
 30,157.00
 91,964.00
116,662.00
202,571.00
238,370.00
 82,004.00
144,896.00
290,540.00
272,347.00
209,876.00
600,525.00
735,151.00
330,747.00
315,705.00

  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.



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