B. Methods. (continued)


  381. An essential corollary to the encouragement of improved methods of catching and curing fish, and of improved relations between fisherman and exporter, is the introduction of an economic system of marketing. Shipments to foreign markets must be so spaced and controlled as to prevent individual markets being glutted and to ensure that the best returns are received by the exporter and, ultimately, by the fisherman. Had the plans tentatively under discussion by the Salt Codfish Exportation Board been further advanced, it might have been possible to leave the control of shipments to the trade itself, requiring it merely to render returns to the Government. In present circumstances, however, we doubt whether any comprehensive agreement could be reached among exporters without Government assistance, and be appointed, under the Chairmanship of the Commissioner in charge of the Fisheries Bureau, to deal with this subject. This Committee, which might be known as the Control of Shipments Committee, would be composed of six members, exclusive of the Chairman, such members to be nominated by, and representative of authorised exporters. The Committee would be purely an advisory committee, its object being to assist the Commissioner in arriving at a satisfactory arrangement for the spacing and control of shipments, and in smoothing over any difficulties which might be encountered from time to time. The Commissioner would endeavour to act, as far as possible, in agreement with the trade. In the event, however, of the Committee failing to agree upon any workable plan, it would be open to the Commissioner to recommend to the Commission of Government (which we propose) the issue of such regulations for the control of shipments as would, in his opinion, be to the general advantage of the industry.


  382. We have already indicated the serious loss which the country generally, and St. John's in particular, suffers through the absence of a local mercantile marine. It is, to say the least, highly anomalous that in a maritime country, proud of its sea-faring traditions, with an extensive European and South American trade, use should be made of foreign vessels to carry its products to market. It is still more anomalous that the foreign vessels generally employed for this purpose should be those of a nation which is one of Newfoundland's chief competitors in the codfish markets of the world. The decline in activity in St. John's which has resulted from the chartering of these vessels, coupled with the loss to the country of the sums annually remitted abroad on this account, represent a serious weakness which will need to be remedied before the country can rest content with its economic position. We need not reproduce here the arguments put before us in explanation of the present state of affairs. We content ourselves with recording the facts and suggesting that a special enquiry should be instituted, with a view to the elaboration of a practical scheme for encouraging the gradual formation of a local carrying fleet.


  383. More adequate collections of statistics relating to the fisheries should be made. Much of this work could be done by the District Fishery Officers, with the assistance of local officials in the outports. The District Fishery Officers would render regular returns to the Fisheries Bureau. The trade itself compiles certain statistics, e.g., relating to salmon and lobster catches, and such compilations could be systematised and made more general for periodical return to the Fisheries Bureau. Statistics relating to market conditions, such as prices, movements and stocks, shipments, proportion of qualities of fish, production in competing countries and so forth, might best be handled by the Newfoundland Board of Trade, whose co-operation might be enlisted for this purpose.


  384. The means for providing organised education in fishery matters should be investigated and practical education in such matters should be fostered. There are various ways in which this might be done:--

  (1) We suggest that a special educational branch should be established at the Fishery Research Laboratory at Bay Bulls. Short courses of instruction in the general structure of the fisheries, and in the most important considerations to be kept in view by the fisherman, might be organised by the Director and conducted by a member of the existing staff, who might be specially allotted to this work.
  (2) Vacation courses might be attended by teachers, who would appear to be the best agents for spreading useful information in the outports. Teachers might be required, as part of their training, to undergo such a course, and might then in turn organise outport courses of instruction. It is especially important that the interest of the younger generation in the fisheries should be quickened, and first principles inculcated which will afterwards serve them in good stead and lead to a progressive improvement in fishery methods.
  (3) Parties of young fishermen might also be selected for short courses of instruction at Bay Bulls, especially during the winter months. Two such courses have already been held with success and the experiment should be continued, with the aid, if necessary, of a small Government grant.
  (4) The courses should, in addition, be open to the attendance of any person interested in or connected with the fishery on payment of a small fee. The more widely a correct knowledge of requirements is disseminated, the more quickly will the industry be likely to recover.
  (5) Arrangements might also be made for occasional visits by members of the staff of the Laboratory to the outports, where they could have informal talks with the fishermen, give them hints in reconciling theory with practice, and arouse their interest by showing them lantern slides illustrating the points made. It is gratifying to learn that, during the 1933 fishing season, the Government provided the means for two members of the staff to make a tour of Placentia Bay, over 20 outports being visited. Informal discussions were entered into with the fishermen, with satisfactory results.
  (6) We suggest that the clergy might also be asked to use their influence in furthering all measures for the betterment of the fisheries. We feel sure that they will readily agree to do so.
  (7) In the winter months it would be desirable that training or instruction should be developed in such subjects as first-aid, hygiene, navigation, practical agriculture and domestic science. We make elsewhere the suggestion that every encouragement should be given to the fostering of home industries in connection with the fisheries.
  (8) Instruction in marine biology is already given at the Memorial College, at St. John's. Any students intending later to take up occupations connected with the fisheries should be encouraged to take up this subject and to devote a proportion of their time to practical work at Bay Bulls.

Pouch Cove Pouch Cove (18 miles from St. John's), 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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  385. What is needed in fact is a national campaign directed to the rehabilitation of the fishing industry, the discarding of any outworn and unscientific practices in favour of methods more in accordance with modern industrial standards, the substitution of team work for individual effort, and the development of a local market for the wide range of fishery products capable of being produced locally but now neglected. In this work all classes of the community have an interest and all can help.

Image description updated May, 2004.

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