CHAPTER VI.--THE FISHERIES.
III.--PARTICULAR SURVEY OF THE INDIVIDUAL BRANCHES OF THE INDUSTRY. (continued)
333. A lobster-canning
industry has been conducted in Newfoundland for many years. It is an industry
carried on by individuals rather than by companies and has never been
scientifically organised. Licences are issued to some 500 exporters or
"packers" all over the Island; these each have their own plant. There is
no standardisation of product, but regulations have been issued prescribing
the methods to be adopted, and a system of government inspection is in force.
Depletion of the stock led to the imposition of a close season for the three
years 1926-28. The fishery was reopened in 1929, but, after a short period
of better catches, has since been on the down grade. Too many licences have
been issued, over-fishing has taken place, undersized lobsters have been taken,
and egg-carrying (berried) lobsters have not been returned to the sea. The
stock has now been reduced to such small proportions that temporary suspension
of operations, or at least some measure of restriction, is again
334. Before the War, a
prosperous herring industry was carried on in Bay of Islands and Notre Dame
Bay, where the stocks are most numerous. After the War, however, owing to
shrinkage of markets and to tariff difficulties in foreign countries, the
industry fell away, and to-day it is in a very low condition. Endeavours to
secure a market in Germany for round salted herring for bloatering have not
been very successful, and the previously existing market in Chicago and New
York for salt herring virtually collapsed with the institution of prohibition
in the United States. If prohibition in that country should now be repealed,
this market may be resuscitated.
|Sampson's Island, Notre Dame Bay, n.d.
Photo by Holloway. 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.
335. Greater use could
undoubtedly be made of herring for local consumption. Formerly, most families
on the west coast were accustomed to put away barrels of salted herring for
winter use, but only few now do so. We found on our tour of the outports
that even families claiming public relief made little or no attempt to avail
themselves of the supply of herring to be found at their very doors. Such an
anomalous state of affairs seems to us to merit the attention of the
336. Herring, as we have
already indicated, is one of the three chief baits used for cod, the other two
being caplin and squid. Herring is used in the spring, caplin in the summer,
and squid in the fall. There is often a shortage of squid in the fall; when
this occurs, the fishery is apt to be neglected. But herring could equally
well be used if steps were taken to collect supplies in advance. We consider
that it would be of advantage to the country if greater attention were paid to
the cold storage of herring; any excess could be sold to foreign vessels,
manufactured into fish meal, or otherwise disposed of.
337. This prolific fish
affords a short-period but very dependable fishery each spring. It is utilised
as bait for the second banking voyage of the year, and large quantities should
be sharp-frozen for similar use at other times. Quantities are taken by the
fisherman for field manure and small amounts are dried for family consumption.
It is usual to regard caplin as being capable of much greater exploitation. On
account of the regular appearance of this fish in very great quantities, there
is justification for this attitude.
338. In the first place,
better use could be made of the fish as part of compost for manure for the
succeeding season (instead of the present practice of spreading them on the
surface of the ground). Again, there is reason to believe that a large
foreign market could be developed for dried caplin, e.g., in the West Indies,
but for this purpose it would be important that the fish should be of uniform
quality. This implies some measure of artificial drying, such as could be
carried out in small outport driers, used at other times for codfish. A third
but probably limited outlet for caplin is in the canned form. A method has
now been found of canning this fish successfully and, where cold storage is
available, such canning might be developed. The product has not, however,
excited much interest abroad, although wherever tested in Newfoundland the
reception has been favourable.
339. Finally, where
fish-meal factories can be set going for processing other forms of raw
material, caplin could be utilised during the season of their abundance,
the resulting meal, on account of its rather high fat content, being blended
340. A very localised
fishery is based on this highly esteemed fish on parts of the west and east
coasts, notably Bay of Islands and Notre Dame Bay. On the west coast,
exploitation is probably as great as is desirable, bearing in mind the
necessity of maintaining the stock. On the east coast, lack of communications
are apt to restrict activities, as it is often difficult to transfer the catch
to St. John's in prime condition for export to the United States market, which
permits free entry for this species. An attempt this year to solve this
difficulty, by using a vessel fitted with refrigerating apparatus, was brought
to an untimely end by the wrecking of the vessel en route.
Image description updated May, 2004.