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C


No. 1456.

MEMORANDUM BY JOHAN HJORT, Sc.D., F.R.S.
Professor in the University of Oslo, Norway.


In 1922, I was asked to express an opinion on the statement : “ the conditions existing in Lake Melville are so unfavourable for cod, that neither their spawning, nor their life-development, nor their adult life would be possible in the waters referred to.” This opinion was given in a statement (Document No. 1016, page 2403. Vol. V of Joint Appendix) which aimed at showing that the pelagic cod does not go up to Lake Melville, which therefore cannot be included in the coast, granted that the latter is interpreted as a field of activity for British fishermen. This was admitted in accordance with the Royal Proclamation of 7th October 1763 (Canada Case, p. 8). In an annex (Doc. No. 1018, Vol. V of Joint Appendix, page 2410) Professor Schetelig proved by means of the quaternary geological data that the geographical and hydrographical conditions in Lake Melville had not changed in character in this respect since 1763.
On examination of the communications and documents which I have now received I am unable to find that this statement is in any way weakened, but the question is dealt with also from other points of view. Thus the conception “ coast ” in general is discussed by Newfoundland (Counter-Case, Newfoundland, par. 17). For example, “ coast-line ” is defined as “ the line where the salt water touches the land” (Case, Colony of Newfoundland). In my view no absolute conception can be deduced from the terminology, neither scientific nor popular, as to the specific application of the word “ coast ” or what belongs to the coast.. A “ fjord,” for example, can quite rightly be understood to be a submersion of the surface plane of the land itself, which in the present geological period has sunk beneath the niveau of the sea and which has a certain characteristic configuration of its bottom. From that point of view a fjord is not coast—does not belong to the coast—even if tidal movement can be observed along its entire length and if layers of brackish water occur in a fairly long or short stretch of the fjord. It may be of some interest in this connection to remember that in Norway, whence the word fjord originates, this word is in many instances used for lakes which have no other connection with the sea than a descending river, which in some cases lies much higher than the sea level, but which have the same characteristic configuration as deep excavations of the superficial rocky plane of the land as the fjords which directly communicate with the sea (e.g. Tyrifjord, Skurdalsfjord and others).
On the other hand the word “ coast ” is given a clear, well-defined

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meaning, if it is used in relation to a definite occupation, as for example the large cod fisheries of Labrador. And my expression of opinion in 1922 was to the effect that Lake Melville from that point of view did not belong to the coast. “ Coast in its relation to Imperial Policy ” is of course also a clear idea (as proposed by Sir Fr. C. Learmonth, Doc. No. 1035, page 2522, Appendix).
In the Newfoundland Counter-Case, par. 18, it is further stated that it was also presumed that other livelihoods than the coast fisheries were to be assigned to Newfoundland in Labrador. In this event the foundation is quite different from that upon which I was required to base my opinion. It is not for me to criticise this historical-juridical foundation, which lies quite outside my province. But provided that in 1763 the opinion ruled that Newfoundland should protect the coastal fishing interests and administer the land territory which is of importance for this purpose, I take it for granted that Lake Melville can in no way be considered as included therein, as it clearly appears from old literature and that recently sent that the natural conditions of Lake Melville have not since 1763 been suitable for the influx of shoals of sea cod, for which reason no sea cod fishing has taken place there.
In a memorandum called “ The Hamilton Inlet,” C. Tate Regan discusses the question from a point of view different to this. In his conclusion, page 2520, he says : “ The general purport of the biological evidence put forward in support of the Canadian Case is to suggest that the marine fauna and flora do not extend beyond the Narrows owing to the reduced salinity of the water. I have disproved this contention by showing that the species specially selected to illustrate it are found elsewhere in water of salinity as low as, or lower than that of the Hamilton Inlet west of the Narrows.” Mr. Regan refers principally to the Baltic, in which marine animals and among them also the cod species are known to live in brackish waters of a salinity even lower than what seems to be characteristic, partly in any case, west of the narrows in “ Lake Melville.” Mr. Regan's contention that a fish belonging to the cod species might be found in “ Lake Melville ” may therefore be correct, if we suppose the salinity is the only dominating factor for the distribution of this species, and if other circumstances, e.g. lack of oxygen, would not prevent its appearance as in many Norwegian inlets with a very similar configuration of the bottom, that is inlets with comparatively shallow barriers at the entrance and deep excavations inside these barriers.
Questions like these, however, cannot be decided with certainty without special investigations of the kind. Such investigations would be of interest in themselves, but they seem to me unnecessary for the question, which I am discussing here. Neither Mr. Regan nor any other author has, as far as I have been able to discover, produced any positive information as to the appearance of the species of cod inside the “ Lake Melville.” In his interesting “ Report on Labrador Fisheries, 1892-1924 ” (Appendix, p. 2564), Mr. Wilfrid T. Grenfell says as follows : “ I have visited Labrador and cruised in my own steamer amongst the peoples of the coast for 32 years ” ;

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and page 2566, “ It is safe to say that few codfish enter Melville Bay, a fact that is attested by the Eskimo cod fishery at Caravalla. This is at 'the Narrows' or only entrance to Lake Melville, and is about 20 miles inside Rigolet. They have always led me to understand that all they get are Rock cod, a fish that so far has no value for Newfoundland fishermen. They are accustomed to reject these when taken by mistake amongst the cod on the outside. That no cod fishery (has been carried on) by Newfoundlanders or Canadians, or anyone except for Rock cod by native Labrador men, further up the Hamilton Inlet than the Narrows, or ever has been is fairly certain. At any rate during the past 32 years I would assert with great confidence that none has been.”
This information, which must be taken as the most reliable at hand, seems to me quite conclusive as a corroboration of my statement in the Memorandum of 1922, that the pelagic cod does not go up into Lake Melville.
It is in this connection of interest to consider the comparison which Mr. Regan has drawn between the one region, the coast of Labrador and the Hamilton Inlet on the one hand and on the other hand the North Sea and the Baltic. The quite correct statement that the species of cod occurs in the Baltic is by no means any proof of the pelagic cod of the Norwegian coast or the North Sea migrating into the Baltic. There is in the Baltic a characteristic race or stock of cod of a small size, quite different from the stock of cod living in the larger open areas of the sea, and individuals belonging to this latter stock are never known to migrate into the area of brackish water. to which the small-sized race is confined. Mr. Regan's comparison would, therefore, be a strong argument against “ Lake Melville ” being a ground for the stock of pelagic cod, but as the appearance even of the species of cod in the “ Lake Melville ” has not been recorded, it seems of little value to draw this comparison at all.
For the purposes of the British fishermen annually resorting to that coast, in the ordinary conduct of their fishing operations. for the purposes of “ the open and free fishery ” (Canada's contention in the Case of Canada, para. 4) “ Lake Melville ” may, therefore, be rightly claimed as a water quite apart from what has been intended by and can rightly be included in the conception of the word “ coast ” as used by the Royal Proclamation of the 7th October, 1763.

Oslo, 27th August, 1926.
JOHAN HJORT.

For the legalisation of the above official signature of Johan Hjort, Sc.D., F.R.S., Professor in the University of Oslo, Norway.
Dated at the British Consulate at Oslo this Thirtieth day of August 1926.

J. C. AIRD,                                            (Seal)
British Pro Consul.
Stamps
 9/6d.

[1927lab]


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