CHAPTER VI.--THE FISHERIES.
347. Under the new form of
Government which we recommend, the fisheries would be placed under the control
of the Commissioner who will be in charge of Fisheries, Agriculture, Forests and
Mines. The existing Departments dealing with these subjects might be amalgamated
and called the Department of Natural Resources. This Department would be divided
into two sections of Bureaux, a Fisheries Bureau and a Bureau of Agriculture,
Forests and Mines. The following organisation is proposed for the Fisheries
348. On the administrative
side the Commissioner would work through a permanent administrative Secretary.
He would, in addition, have at call advisers expert in the various branches of
the fisheries. The functions of the Salt Codfish Exportation Board would be
assumed by the new Department. Until the Department is established, the Board
should continue its activities.
349. On the scientific side
the Commissioner would be assisted by the Director of the Fishery Research
Laboratory at Bay Bulls. We recommend that this institution, provision for
which has only been made to the end of 1935, should become a permanent part of
the government machinery dealing with the fisheries.
350. As regards the export
and marketing of codfish, the Commissioner would be assisted by three
representatives appointed by the exporters. The evidence submitted to us
indicates that there is need for two officials who would be permanently stationed
in the European markets and would be able to watch Newfoundland interests, keep
the Bureau informed of market requirements and be available to act as
intermediaries between buyers and sellers in case of difficulty. We accordingly
recommend that a Chief Inspector of Markets should be appointed, with headquarters
at Oporto; and that under him there should be an Inspector of Markets with
headquarters at Genoa. If necessary an official might also be stationed in Brazil,
with similar duties. These officials would aid the extension of the markets. The
Chief Inspector would be directly responsible to the Commissioner in charge of the
Department of Natural Resources.
351. For the purposes of
fishery administration the country would be divided into 11 districts. The
existing system, under which there is some inspection for cod-liver oil, herring
and lobster, would be abolished and each district would be placed in charge of a
District Fishery Officer who would assume the duties of the existing inspectors.
Some of the latter might well be chosen to become District Fishery Officers, but
in general we should expect District Fishery Officers to be civil servants,
appointed after examination or a suitable educational test.
352. The District Fishery
Officer would be responsible for seeing that the laws and regulations relating
to the fisheries were observed, for inspection of fish, fish products and fish
premises, for the collection of statistics, and for giving instruction in the
methods recommended by the Department. All applications for licences would be
required to pass through the District Fishery Officer. The latter would also
exercise a general supervision over the "culling" conducted in his district and
it would be open to either merchant or fisherman to call in the District Fishery
Officer in case of dispute.
353. Each District Fishery
Officer would have an office, called the Fishery Office, at the chief fishing
centre in his district. We suggest that such offices might be established at
the following places:--Port-aux-Basques, Bay of Islands, St. Anthony, Twillingate
and Fogo, Bonavista, Trinity, Carbonear, St. John's, Placentia, Burin and
Belleoram. It would also be desirable that a District Fishery Officer should
be stationed on the Labrador coast during the summer months.
||Bankers towing into Burin, 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.
354. Each District Fishery
Officer should possess a thorough knowledge of culling and he would be required,
before taking up his appointment, to undergo a course of instruction in culling
at the Fishery Research Laboratory at Bay Bulls. For this purpose there would be
an Instructor of Culling who would be attached to the Laboratory and would be
responsible for defining the standards of cull and instructing the Officers as
to their recognition. While at Bay Bulls, the Officers could also be given
instruction in the technical aspects of the fisheries, in the methods of curing
recommended, in the construction of subsidiary products and in the collection and
preparation of statistics.
355. The District Fishery
Officers would be under the supervision of a Chief Fishery Officer, stationed
in St. John's. They would be required to make periodical reports to the Chief
Fishery Officer; such reports might be made fortnightly or monthly, according to
the season. It would be necessary for District Fishery Officers to travel round
their districts at frequent intervals; much use could doubtless be made of coastal
steamers and local vessels, but it might be necessary in some instances to provide
these officers with small motor-boats for use in connection with their duties.
The District Fishery Officers would be charged with the supervision of the
Government bait depots in their districts (see paragraph 368 below), and
arrangements for regulating the distribution of bait would be an important aspect
of their duties. The collection of bait for the Government bait depots, and the
efficient working of these depots, would be a special responsibility of the Chief
356. During part of the winter
District Fishery Officers might be withdrawn from their districts and assigned to
special duties, either in the Fisheries Bureau at St. John's or the Research
Laboratory at Bay Bulls, where they might undergo special training according to
the needs of their districts. For part of the winter these officers would, no
doubt, be occupied in their districts in completing their reports, collecting
statistics and data, encouraging boat-building and organising courses of
instruction for the fishermen.
357. The existing Fisheries
Research Commission would be abolished and a new Fisheries Advisory Board would
be set up under the Chairmanship of the Commissioner. Members of this Board
would be the Administrative Secretary and the Director of the Research Laboratory,
and three representatives nominated by the exporters. Representative fishermen
would be called in as necessary. The Board would be purely advisory, all
executive powers being vested in the Commissioner.
358. Attached is a chart
showing the organisation of the Bureau (page 129).
359. We recommend that
immediate action should be taken to retire the credit system by stages, and
that to this end regulations should be issued providing that in 1934 no merchant
shall purchase fish from the fishermen without a minimum cash payment of 20 per
cent. of its value. Adequate steps should be taken to make this decision known
throughout the outports. The minimum could later be advanced by stages to say
80 per cent.
360. Consideration should be
given to the question of establishing auctions for fish on specified days in St.
John's and one or two chief centres. Steps of this kind, if found practicable,
would gradually accustom the people to the handling of money and would facilitate
the ultimate withdrawal of the credit system.
361. The formation of
Fishermen's Mutual Societies should also be encouraged, but under appropriate
safeguards. By purchasing at wholesale prices, such societies would enable
their members to obtain their supplies at rates far below those at present
charged; the reduction in costs which would be brought about by this means might
make all the difference in making the fishery pay. Such societies, if completely
organised and managed, would encourage a greater degree of community effort and
might prove a powerful factor in breaking down the credit system and establishing
the fisheries on a cash basis. Reference is invited in this connection to the
experiments with co-operative stores conducted by Sir Wilfred Grenfell in the
north of the Island and in Labrador.* What has been found possible in those
remote districts should be possible in localities with greater resources in
personnel and more readily susceptible of supervision.
* Sir W. Grenfell, "The Story of a Labrador Doctor," 10th edition, London, 1932, pp. 96-101.
Image description updated May, 2004.