B. Methods.


(d) Finance. (continued)

  373. If the scheme proves successful and is extended gradually to 12 schooners, as contemplated under paragraph 368 (3), it will be a question for consideration whether the fish caught should not be cured and dried by those in charge before being sold. The average price that would be received for dried fish would be in the neighbourhood of $4.00 to $5.00 a quintal, and possibly even higher prices would be obtained if the markets improved. The gross receipts from the operation of the schooners would thereby be greatly increased, but against this increase would have to be set the cost of the additional facilities for storage, curing and artificial drying that would be required at Bay Bulls, or alternatively of hiring such facilities elsewhere. A further consideration which would arise is that, if the whole operation of curing and drying was to be conducted by the Government, much additional work and responsibility would be thrown on the directing staff of the Laboratory. Such work, unless additional personnel could be provided, might interrupt the important research work which is now in progress and which must continue to be the main concern of the Laboratory. The operation of the schooners, and the experiments in canning and the production of fish-meal, etc., which would be rendered possible, would, however, in themselves, provide a valuable adjunct to the existing duties of the Laboratory, and so long as the fish is sold from salt bulk, i.e., without being dried or cured, the danger of the main work of the Laboratory being interrupted would not be likely to arise.

Head (b). Bait Depots.

374. (a) Capital Expenditure:--
Six depots at $20,000 each, completely equipped
  and left in running condition ..........................................
(b) Operating expenses:--
Catching of fish for depots and transfer from one
  depot to another, say .....................................................
Transfer of bait depots to bays by local vessels
  (mostly done by coastal steamers), say ...........................
Wages of operating staff at depots: one man at each
  depot with help as required, say $1,000 each ..................
Cost of electric power and incidentals, say
  $1,500 each ...................................................................




(c) Operating receipts:--
Sale of bait to schooners, companies and foreign
  vessels, say ..................................................................
Proceeds of tax of 2 cents a quintal on fish exported
  (average 1¼ million quintals) .........................................



  375. The foregoing estimate does not allow for the erection of small scale storage facilities in the Bays, other than those in which the depots are situated. Such storage is left, in the first instance, to the fishermen themselves, who should be encouraged to put away ice in the winter. If, however, funds should later be available, small scale storage facilities should be erected in the Bays and operated by the Government in connection with the main scheme. Such facilities would consist either of small refrigerating plants which could be erected at a cost of $1,500 each, or ice-salt freezing chambers which are cheaper, but not so simply operated, and are not so effective in holding the bait in sufficiently good condition. Ice itself will hold bait in fairly good condition for one to two weeks, if the gut (in the case of herring) has been removed.

Head (c). Concurrent experiments.

376. (a) Canning:--
The additional canning equipment necessary at Bay Bulls would
  cost some $3,000.
Operating expenses would be approximately $4,000 a year, and
  these should be more than covered by receipts which may be
  placed at about $5,000 a year.
(b) Fish-meal:-- Capital Expenditure.
Conversion of existing cold store, etc. ..............................
Installation of plant yielding 2½-5 tons a day ...................
   Operating Expenses.
It is estimated that these would amount to 2.15 cents a pound.
  Production would amount to about 250 tons a year. On the
  basis of a selling price of 3-4 cents a lb., costs would be
  covered with a production of 100-150 lb.
(e) General.

  377. It will be seen from these estimates of cost that provision has been made, in the case of the bait depots, for the imposition of a special tax of 2 cents a quintal on fish exported. A tax of this character and amount is in force at the present time, instituted under the Salt Codfish Exportation Act of 1933, but the proceeds are devoted towards the expenses of the Exportation Board, established under the Act. This Board we have recommended should be dissolved, its functions being assumed by the new Fisheries Bureau. We consider, however, that the tax should remain in force, the proceeds being devoted towards the expenses of operating the new bait depots to be constructed under Head (b) above. The institution of efficient arrangements for the collection and distribution of bait is one of the main needs of the fishing industry, and should prove of immense benefit to fisherman and exporter alike. On the other hand, this is a branch of activity which, in ordinary circumstances, would be expected to be assumed by the trade itself and we consider that, until such time as it is in a position to take over these duties, the imposition of a special tax which would save the Government from loss would be fully justified.

  378. We have pointed out that the time has come when the fishing industry must inevitably go through a process of reorganisation. We feel confident that, once modern and scientific methods are adopted, the industry will soon recover its lost ground, and will move forward to a new level of achievement. When this advance takes place, it will no doubt be capable of assuming entire charge of essential activities, such as the collection of bait, the regulation of shipments and other matters in which Government intervention has been brought about only by internal disunion in the ranks of the exporting firms. So also do we contemplate that it will later take over the operation of the schooner base and the subsidiary enterprises, to the development of which we attach much importance. The schemes we have recommended are designed primarily to give the industry a lead, to avert the collapse with which the industry, and with it the country, is threatened, and to provide the fisherman with a new chance of earning a livelihood during the period in which the industry is reorganising itself on the best basis for meeting foreign competition. So soon as this has been achieved, the operations conducted by the Government would doubtless be transferred to private enterprise.


  379. Encouragement should be given to the spread of improved apparatus in the outports, round which a practical form of centralisation may grow naturally and not artificially. Inexpensive fish dryers, for example, should be established by the trade in each outport of size and used judiciously. If this is done the fishermen will tend to take their fish to the dryer whenever indifferent curing weather is experienced. Improved apparatus for canning, or for the production of cod-liver oil, will lead to local centralisation of these subsidiary industries, in place of the waste or overlapping resulting from the concurrent operation of two or three small plants within a short distance of each other. Better facilities for the washing of fish are badly needed in many places, and efforts should be made to introduce these wherever practicable. Any expenditure undertaken by the Government could be recouped by making a small annual charge for the water supplied. In addition to the more widespread provision of running water in fish premises, attention should be given to the general problem of the water supply of the actual dwelling houses in the outports.

Calvert (Southern Shore), 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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  380. Government inspection of fish premises should be instituted and hints given where required. Inspection should be carried out by the District Fishery Officers and should apply to all premises, whether belonging to the fisherman or the exporter, where fish are handled. Regulations should be issued defining the standard requirements to be observed, and the penalties for their non-observance. Premises should be examined from the standpoint of their general suitability for the purpose in view, and in particular from that of cleanliness. Important factors in the case of fishermen's premises would be the water supply, and facilities for washing fish and for the disposal of waste. Many fishermen hardly recognise even yet that fish is an article of food; while we have seen fish treated in some of the premises of fish exporters in a manner which can only be described as primitive. The exercise of greater care, and the inculcation of higher standards, are essential if the industry is to re-establish itself in the respect of the world.

Image description updated May, 2004.

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