CHAPTER VI.--THE FISHERIES.

III.--PARTICULAR SURVEY OF THE INDIVIDUAL BRANCHES OF THE INDUSTRY. (continued)

4. Lobster.

  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 essential.

5. Herring.

  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 If prohibition in that country should now be repealed, this market may be resuscitated.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.
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Sampson's Island

  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 authorities.

  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.

6. Caplin.

  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 with cod-meal.

7. Smelts.

  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.



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