REPORT OF JUDGE SWEETLAND ON THE SALMON FISHERIES.
COLONIAL OFFICE RECORD 197 / 41. JOURNAL OF THE ASSEMBLY,
Report of B. Sweetland, Esq., J.P., on the Salmon Fisheries on the Coast of Labrador.
10th September, 1865.
I beg leave to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 18th May last, directing our attention to the salmon fishery on the Coast of Labrador, and to report thereon. I have the honour to state, for His Excellency the Governor's information, that not having any account of the catch of former years, I am not able to say if there is decrease or increase in the quantity taken in the brooks, other than may be influenced by the number taken at the headlands as they approach the bays to seek their usual breeding places; nor have I been able to discover, except in one instance, any unfair means to prevent their access to the rivers, in the spawning season, neither is there any exclusive claim set up to any station that I can discover, all being situate in tide water; except that of Eagle River in Sandwich Bay, where there are nets in the eddies, leaving three-quarters of the river open for ingress or egress, and at Kenewichie in Lake Metvill [sic] in Exquimaux Bay; although no exclusive right is set up.
The fishery in Sandwich Bay is monopolised by Messrs. Hunt & Henley, and that in Exquimaux Bay is nearly so by the Hudson Bay Company. To these monopolies may be attributed in a great measure, the quantities taken in these two bays, as the gentlemen managing these fisheries are fully alive to the importance of preserving the small fish. The take on the whole coast as far as I can calculate, will be this year 1,657 tierces. On the south part of the coast the fishery has been a failure.
Although not within the limits of the directions contained in your letter, I cannot but remark the 4½ inch mesh used on this coast is a serious injury to the fish.
The first brook within our jurisdiction is that at Blanc Sablon, the tide flowing a mile or two before it meets a rapid. Not fished within its waters, one net set off its mouth by De Quetville & Co. does not supply their table.
Forteau is a large and rapid river, no fishing is carried on there; and not much in its neighbourhood.
Pinware Brook, so called, is the entrance to a Bar Harbor, the river being 3 miles up the arm. The fishing is in tide water, consequently a free fishery. It yields, on an average, 43 tierces. It is used by Messrs. Stab, Row & Co., by Odalls and by Dorsey. Messrs. Stab, Row & Co. attempted but failed to establish an exclusive right, the Odalls having fished it in common with them for 30 years. No use is made of the river.
Wiseman's Brook, about 3 miles from Red Bay, is occasionally fished by one and another; the take is very insignificant. Chateau Bay always yielded a fair catch until this year, has two considerable streams running into it; no use is made of either of them.
Lewis Inlet, “the Main River,” is fished for salmon, and yields on an average 7 tierces. It is not always used by the same persons; it was formerly claimed by Messrs. Slade, who have ceased to exercise their right to it.
Hawk's Harbor or Bat, near the main river, is a station yielding three tierces. Messrs. Slade also claimed this station but have abandoned it. Sand Hill, situated between Indian Tickle and Cape North has a river, near which is taken 40 tierces, mostly small.
Sandwich Bay yields the largest catch on the coast. There are three considerable rivers flowing into it, viz.:—
White Bear River, and
Eagle River is the only one used, the average about 40 tierces; the whole would average 700 tierces—24,000 tins of preserved salmon were put up this year.
Esquimaux Bay and Lake Melville above the narrows, into which there are several rivers flowing, two only of them are fished, viz.: the N.W. River and Kenewichie by the Hudson Bay Company. The former giving only a supply for the table; the latter averaging 8 tierces. Both these stations were purchased of the estate of Bird & Co.
The whole collection in this vay is 450 tierces. Mr. Norman participates in this fishery. Messrs. Hunt & Hill had a station here, but were purchased out by the Hudson Bay Company.
The N.W. River as well as Hamilton River, are said to be navigable for boats 40 miles, terminating in falls, over which salmon are known to ascend. The lakes and rivers above these falls abound in fish, affording means of support to the tribes of Indians occupying that part of the country.
I have, etc.,
(Signed) B. SWEETLAND, J.P.
Hon. John Beaminster,
Colonial Secretary, etc.