The Committee on this Point are of Opinion, that this Request ought not to be granted : The Inhabitants of Your Majesty's Colonies would think themselves entitled to the same Favour, and the Policy of the ancient Laws of Trade and Revenue, which oblige all Your Majesty's Subjects in America and the West Indies to import those Articles through Great Britain, would in such Case be defeated ; and the Inhabitants of Newfoundland, who cannot be deemed Colonists, and are supposed to go Yearly from Your Majesty's European Dominions, have less Reason than any others to expect such Indulgence.
The Merchants also desired, that Instructions might be given to the Governor to reduce the Number of Public Houses, and that in St. John's they should not exceed Twelve ; and that every Person keeping such Public House should give Security for their good Behaviour, and be obliged to keep One Fishing Shallop ; and that all Persons keeping Shops should also be obliged to keep one Fishing Shallop ; The Committee are of Opinion that this Request is very proper to be complied with, and that Your Majesty's Governor should be instructed accordingly.
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The Merchants also desired, that the Fishing Admirals might be allowed to name Deputies to act for them when absent and from the Shore, and to hear and determine Disputes between Masters, and Seamen, or Fishermen. The Committee do not think the ancient Custom in this Respect should be changed : Disputes that may arise should be determined in the Manner hitherto practised.
The Merchants also desired, that the Fishery on the Coast of Labrador might be under the same Regulations, and receive the same Encouragement, with that of Newfoundland. The Committee are of Opinion, that as the Coast of Labrador is included in the Commission to Your Majesty's Governor of Newfoundland, the Fishery on that Coast is in every Respect upon the same Footing with that carried on at that Island.
The Merchants further desired, that out of the Half of the Wages due to the Seamen and Fishermen to be remitted Home, they might be allowed to deduct the Monies that may be advanced to their Families during their Absence, and that the other full Half should be advanced to them at Newfoundland. Though, from Motives which could be alledged, the Committee might be induced to think this Request not wholly improper, and wish to grant it ; yet, from a Consideration that it might tend in various Ways totally to defeat the great Object for which the Legislature thought it proper this Money should be paid at Home ; viz. that of inducing the Fishermen to return, the Committee think it would be dangerous to consent to this Request, and that any Inconvenience ought rather to be submitted to.
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The Committee also heard the Agents for the Merchants of Jersey and Guernsey, as far as relates to the Interest of Your Majesty's Subjects in those Islands carrying on the Newfoundland Fishery. The Committee are of
Opinion, that they ought to have every Encouragement given to Your Majesty's other European Subjects, consistent with their local Situation, and such the Committee apprehend is the Case at present ; but that in making their Outfits, and bringing back the Produce of the Fishery, it is necessary, for the Interest of the Manufactures and Commerce of Great Britain, that they should continue subject to the Restrictions which by the Laws are now imposed upon them.
In the Course of their Enquiry many Transactions were stated to the Committee, tending to shew, in a comparative View, the Advantages under which the Subjects of Great Britain and France now carry on the Newfoundland Fishery, and the Success which has hitherto attended the Policy of the two Governments in this Respect ; and certain Arrets of the French King, issued in the Course of last Year, were laid before the Committee, granting considerable Bounties, as well on Fish catched by the Subjects of France, and imported by them into the French West India Islands, as on such Fish carried to the Foreign European Markets.
It appeared in Evidence, that the only Advantage the Subjects of France have over those of Your Majesty in carrying on the Fishery, is, that they hire their Men at lower Wages, and are not obliged to feed them so well ; but on the other Hand they labour under many Disadvantages. It is agreed by all Your Majesty's Officers, that the Part of Newfoundland allotted by the late Treaty of Peace to the French for carrying on their Fishery, is not so well adapted for that Purpose as that where we fish exclusively ; and although the Cod is as large on that Part of the Island where the French are allowed to fish, the Climate is more unfavourable for drying it, particularly near the Streights of Belleisle ; the Navigation on that Part of the Coast is more dangerous, and their Fishing Boats and Craft are more exposed to the Weather. There is hardly a Year in which many of them are not lost. They have not Bait either so early or in such Plenty as we have ; there is One particular Species of Bait of which they have none. As the French are not allowed to Winter there, they arrive too late to prepare their Stages, Flakes, &c. and to get the Stuff out of the Woods for the Purpose of covering them ; so that they are obliged to cover them with Ships Sails, which is more expensive, and does not answer the Purpose so well. It is owing to this that they cure their Fish so much on the Beach, which is not so good a Method as that practised by our Fishermen.
The Islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon are as well adapted to the Fishery as any Part of Newfoundland, but they have no Wood there for Stages or Flakes ; and the French in these Islands would not be able to carry on their Fishery without great Difficulty, if they were not allowed to cut and carry Wood from the Island of Newfoundland.
The Boats of the French Fishermen are by no Means so good as ours ; they are not near so large, and consequently do not stand the Sea so well ; many of them are lost when ours get safe into Port ; and it is of great Importance
that they should not be allowed to build their Boats in Newfoundland. It was proved to the Committee that their Seamen and Fishermen are not so expert as the British, and that they do not take, per Boat, above half the Number of Fish.
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Office of Committee of
Privy Council for Trade, A true Copy.
Whitehall, 11th March 1793.
Chr Clk Com. C1 Trade.
No. 768. C
1786. IMPERIAL ACT, 26 GEO. III., CAP. 26.
AN ACT TO ENCOURAGE THE NEWFOUNDLAND FISHERIES.
Vide Vol. I, page 273.
No. 769. C
1789. IMPERIAL ACT, 29 GEO. III., CAP. 53.
AN ACT FURTHER REGULATING THE NEWFOUNDLAND, GREENLAND AND SOUTHERN WHALE FISHERIES.
Vide Vol. I, page 286.