CHAPTER VI.--THE FISHERIES.

IV.--RECOMMENDATIONS.

A. Control.

1. ADMINISTRATIVE.

  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 Bureau.

  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.

Burin 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.
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  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 Fishery Officer.

  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).

2. COMMERCIAL.

  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.


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