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Q. What is the halibut season up there?-A. On the Banks that is generally the year round. Of course they catch more in the summer than in the winter, but when the weather is not too boisterous they go the year round.
Q. Are any other kinds of fish taken there except mackerel and halibut?-A. Yes; they take salmon and some shad. I suppose you would not call them ocean fish, although many of them are caught in the bays.
Q. They are caught within 3 miles of the shore line?-A. Yes, sir; a great many salmon are caught in St. John Harbor.
Q. You do not get any salmon or haddock to speak of in those waters?-A. No, sir; I don't think they get any haddock down there to speak of; they may get a few around Digby.
METHODS OF TREATMENT.
Q. The codfish our people catch up there are salted there, are they not?—A. Yes; most of them are cured in the vessel.
Q. Is not that true also of mackerel?--A. Yes, sir; though no mackerel come from there except by steamer. We have had one steamer, called the Novelty, that has run four or five courses. She was built for that business, and generally runs four or five trips.
THE CASE OF THE NOVELTY.
Q. The Novelly is the vessel, is she not, about which there has been some diffi culty?-A. There has been some controversy; I hardly think there has been any difficulty. Captain Jones says he has not been molested to any extent, but they would not allow him to land to get coal. They claimed that coal was not provided for by the language of the treaty allowing vessels to land for wood, water, shelter, and to repair damages. They claimed that wood and water were all that was allowed to be landed for under the terms of the treaty, and they would not allow him to take in coal. He tried to land on the Magdalen Islands for coal, claiming that that was neutral ground, but they would not allow that.
Q. Is Boston the home port of that vessel?—A. No, sir; her home port is Portland.
TIE 3-MILE LIMIT.
Q. Tell us what you know and think as to what proportion of these fish, before the expiration of the last treaty, were caught within the 3-inile limit, saying nothing about the headland question.-A. I have made some inquiries at different seasons in regard to the fish caught within the 3-mile limit, and although I do not speak by anthority, yet, as nearly as I can ascertain, the amount of tish caught during the term of the last treaty, twelve years, did not exceed $764,000 worth in the markets.
By Senator FRYE: Q. Do you mean as sold in the markets?-A. Yes; that was the market value.
By Senator EDMUNDS: Q. What do our vessels have occasion (supposing they are not to fish inside the 3-mile limit) to go inside for?—A. A vessel might get out of ice when fresh fishing, or it might get out of stores, or water, or something of that description. Aside from that, nothing but stress of weather, I should suppose, would drive them in.
Q. How is it as to the question of bait?-A. Of course that is a contingency to be looked at; still I think there is no trouble about our vessels getting all the bait they want in our own waters, if the Canadian ports were closed entirely so that they could not go in there at all.
Q. Take mackerel, for instance; what is the bait used for them?-A. They are not taken with bait, but with seines.
Q. The great mass of mackerel are now taken in purse seines?-A. Yes; you might say the entire lot.
Q. What kind of bait is used for halibut?-A. Herring to some extent, but squid almost entirely. Sometimes they take out salt bait if fresh bait is not plentiful. My theory in regard to that subject is that our vessels have been so used to go into Canadian ports for bait because they can get it there so cheap, that it has done away with them taking a supply of bait with them when they sail. They are afraid to go for bait, for fear they can not find a market for it. I think herring can be taken in our own waters all the year round.
Another important point in that connection is the menhaden question. If our Gopernment would look at that question as we look at it, and prohibit those steamers from catching menhaden for oil, which has driven them off of our shores almost entirely, we would have plenty of menhaden all the time. But these steamers begin in the spring and catch them at all seasons, and grind them up for oil, and that has a strong tendency to drive the mendaden from our shores.
By Senator FRYE:
d. You would prohibit that entirely?-A. I don't know as to that. But it seems to me really that if this controversy is going to continue between the two countries in regard to the fisheries, we ought to use every endeavor and every resource we have to procure our own bait. These steamers go out and catch menhaden and porgies expressly for oil purposes; the steamers are built for that purpose; they take them in large quantities, and have done so for years, until the last year or two, when they have scarcely been able to get any. They take all that comes along and grind them up for oil. Our fishermen of course have to go without that bait, from the fact that they can not find any. If something was done by legislation to prevent those steamers from catching menhaden for a certain length of time we would have them back on our shores.
By Senator EDMUNDS: Q. Would not the effect of that also be to bring in the bluefish, mackerel, and all other shore fish?-A. I should not be at all surprised if that would have some effect on those other fishes. We now get almost no bluetish.
Q. What kind of bait is found on the Banks and up to the northeast?-A. I do not know really in regard to that. I think you will get more information on that subject at Provincetown than I can give you, as I have never been engaged in that kind of fishery. I suppose, however, that they use the same bait that we do in our business-squid, herring, and those small fish.
Q. Are the codfish taken with salted bait?-A. They are very loath to bite salt bait.
Q. They have salt enough in the sea for their purposes?-A. Yes. They do not bite herring even as well as they do squid.
THE MARKET FOR FRESH FISH.
Q. Where do these great quantities of fresh fish go that pass through the hands of yourself and your fellow-dealers here in Boston?--A. They are shipped all over the country, far and near. We ship them as far west as St. Louis, and even at times as far as Kansas City. We ship them all through the western part of New York, to Michigan, Wisconsin, and through the Canadas, and north through our own Eastern and Middle States.
THE THREE-MILE LIMIT.
Q. Can you tell me in general what you think is the relative proportion, say of mackerel, that, before the 3-mile treaty expired, were caught within the 3 miles, to those caught without?-A. No, I don't think I can tell you perhaps as well as some gentlemen can at Gloucester on that point. My opinion, however, would be that the proportion caught inside would be very small; in fact, according to the statistics, that must be so. Again, it is very seldom that our vessels go down in the bay for mackerel when we have mackerel in our own bays. The bay is regarded by our fisherman as the last resort for mackerel when they can not be taken nearer. It is only when the mackerel are driven inshore by dog-fish or bluefish, or some of the larger fishes, that you can catch mackerel close to shore. They mostly keep out unless they are driven in by some fish obnoxious to them.
Q. How would that be with the cod?-A. I don't think that our men go there often for cod; I do not think there are many cod on the shores down there, I never heard of many being caught along shore; they are mostly taken on the banks and out to sea.
Senator EDMUNDS. I know that the fishermen on the north shore of the Bay of Chaleur and along that coast go off into the bay as much as 10 miles to catch their cod.
The WITNESS. Go down to Yarmouth, and you will find them out 10 to 12 miles from shore.
Q. Taking the results of your observation and information, what would you consider the real value to our fishermen of the right to fish within the 3-mile limit, saying nothing about the bait question?--A. As far as I can ascertain, from talking with our most intelligent fishermen, I think there would not be one dissenting voice if they were excluded entirely from the 3-mile limit; that is, that they should not go within 3 miles of the shore; I do not mean within a line drawn from headland to headland. The bluefish that are caught within the 3-mile limit are no account at all.
Q. Are not all the fish along our coast that amount to anything caught outside the 3-mile limit?—A. Yes, pretty much.
DUTIES ON FISH.
There is one thing perhaps I ought to state in regard to the duties on fish.
Senator EDMUNDS. That has a bearing upon the international question, and we would like to hear your views about that.
The WITNESS. I have studied this question somewhat, and have followed the legislation of Congress with some particularity as far as it has gone, and I have found that there was no one before the committee at Washington to explain to that committee what effect the duties on fish from a foreign port would have upon the consumer. I think I saw that Mr: West and Mr. Blackford, of New Yrok, and I think one or two from Boston-I think Mr. Jones was one of them—stated to that committee that they wanted free fish because it would cheapen food fishes to the consumer. In my opinion the result would be entirely different. The imposition of a dollar a hundred as duty on fish coming into our market would not have the effect to cheapen fish to the consumer. Everybody should understand the question as we see and know it to be. The retail markets all over the country-south, west, north, and east-always have a stated price the year round for fish-a certain price for cod fish, for haddock, for halibut, and for mackerel, and that is the price that they continue to have whether they buy cheap or dear. They buy, of course, at wholesale, like myself, as a rule. But whereas we rise and fall with the market, as the market is sustained by the quantity that is brought in, they have a steady price the year round. If they are worth $1.50, the addition of $1 duty would make them sell for $2.50. If there was no duty, they would sell for $1.50. But the consumer has to pay the same price with or without duty. The same principle holds good with reference to cod and haddock. I think the parties who made that statement before the committee, that free fish would tend to cheapen fish to the consumer, were laboring under a mistake.
Then, again, there is another thing which is going to be of very great importance to the fishers off our coast, if our Government gives them the free right to come into our markets with fresh fish as well as salt. I say if there is going to be duty on either let it be on both. Duties on salt fish will not help you if you leave the markets open for fresh fish. Halifax, St. John, Montreal, and Quebec are great railroad and steamboat centers. Now, if fish are allowed to come into our country free it will be the easiest thing in the world to distribute those fish from the 1st of November to the 1st of April from all those points all through our country at a good deal less price than we can buy them for from the vessels and at a less price than our vessels can afford to catch them for.
FRESH FISH SHIPPED TO THE WEST AND SUBSEQUENTLY CURED.
The duties on salt fish being so much, fresh fish might be shipped through to Chicago, and other points west, and there cured. How are you going to stop it?
Q. That is, they are shipped as fresh fish and cured afterwards?-A. Yes; shipped for immediate consumption, according to the construction of the law, but when they get there they are put into salt.
The Canadian government last summer passed a law imposing a duty of 50 cents on fish, and yet I ship to Quebec or Montreal, having to pay a duty of 50 cents a hundred. I can illustrate this by stating a transaction that took place at Yarmouth last spring. One of our vessels went out haddocking on the Georges and got blown out of her course.
Q. You mean Yarmouth, Nova Scotia?-A. Yes; he made port at Yarmouth. He had from 12,000 to 20,000 fish. Of course he did not want to keep them while going back to the Banks, for fear of losing them, and so he sold them in Yarmouth; I think he got $92 or $93 for what he had. Before he got paid for them and got away the custom-house folks came down on him and made him pay a little more for duty than he got for his fish. The purchasers boxed them up and sold them here in the Boston market. Q. The same identical fish?-A. The same identical fish.
By Senator FRYE: Q. Do you know what he got for them?-A. I think it was $2.56; they were scarce at the time when they happened to come in. It is quite a large question, of course, but the interest at stake here all along our coast I think is large enough to justify our Government in taking hold of it with a proper degree of earnestness. We have $37,000,000 invested in our fisheries, and it seems to me we have some right to protection at the hands of our Government.
NATIONALITY OF FISHERMEN. By Senator EDMUNDS: Q. What is the nationality of the majority of these fifteen or twenty men to the vessel who come to this port?--A. So far as I understand it I should say that they are about half Nova Scotiamen; perhaps the proportion is even larger than that. You can ascertain that more definitely in Gloucester. There are some very progressive men in Gloucester, and, if you are not acquainted with parties there, I can give you the names of some gentlemen who are large owners, and who are interested in the question accordingly.
Senator EDMUNDS. Before you leave the room, please write their names down and give the list to the clerk.
The WITNESS. You will also be able, I think, to obtain much information at Portland.
THE FISHERMEN'S SHARE OF THE PROFITS.
The WITNESS. You are speaking of our own fishermen and of fish caught in our own waters?
Senator FRYE. Yes.
A. To-day, for instance, the market is bare and prices are high. Haddock sold to-day as high as $5 a hundred.
By Senator EDMUNDS: Q. Do you mean a hundred pounds, or a hundred fish?—A. A hundred pounds. We paid $5 to the fishermen, and we sell them for $5.50.
By Senator FRYE: Q. What does the retailer get?-A. Different prices in different places; 7 cents a pound is the price for haddock and 10 cents for cod.
Q. What proportion will the retail price bear, on the average, to what the fishermen get? Will the fishermen get half?-A. Oh, no; I suppose they do not get over one-third. As a rule the fishermen get within half a cent of what the dealers get, whether the price is high or low. Sometimes they get more than the dealers, if the dealers happen to buy too high.
Q. What do you know about the freezing processes that have obtained in the last ten or twelve years?-A. I think they have been a great detriment to the business.
Q. What are the processes?
A. The cold air acts on the fish so as to preserve them, the same as salt does. Refrigerating houses are built in which the fish are hung on books until frozen. The interior of those houses is intersected with cold-air pipes and over the top of the interior are placed ice and salt. These pipes run into the freezing room and reduce the temperature down to a point considerably below zero sometimes, but as a rule from 5 to 10 above zero.
Q. How long can those fish be preserved in that way?-A. Just as long as they can be kept from thawing.
Q. Suppose a cargo of those frozen fish were to come from St. John, New Brunswick, in a car?--A. When the weather is not too warm you can keep them all winter.
Q. Do you keep them in refrigerators?-A. Not in the winter time.
Q. In the summer they have to be transported in refrigerator cars?-A. Yes; going West they generally go in refrigerator cars.
Q. So that a cargo of fish might arrive here in Boston in the summer and be distributed all over the country?--A. Yes.
Q. And be preserved for a considerable time?-A. Yes. There is no trouble about keeping fish after they are once frozen; they will continue to keep as long as they can be kept from thawing.
Q. Do most of the vessels take ice?-A. Yes; but the ice does not freeze the fish, it only serves to keep them.
Q. What do you do with them after you get them in the Boston market?-A. We take them out and put them in ice boxes and immediately ship them to the parties who order them.
Q. And you can send them all over the country?-A. Not in the summer time. It costs more to ship them in the summer than in the winter.
Q. What is the average time that they are kept fresh in the summer, from the time they are taken up to the time they are consumed?—A. I should say about six days from the time they are taken from the water—that is, averaging right through, all kinds of fish.
Q. Then it is six days after they are taken before the consumer gets them?-A. Yes; on the average.
Q. In the winter how long is the average?-A. That depends on the state of the fish. Sometimes fish are caught in extremely cold weather and the weather freezes them; such fish you can keep a long time. Fish that are brought in in ice in the winter will not keep any longer than in the summer.
Q. Suppose a cargo of halibut, frozen, comes into Gloucester?-A. They do not come in frozen. You can not freeze halibut with any advantage; that has been tried.
Q. Suppose a cargo of frozen hake comes to Gloucester?--A. We may take frozen hake and put them into a freezer, but no bake are handled from Boston. We have hail cargo after cargo from the Grand Banks in the middle of January and we had to keep them until the middle of March before they were cleared out.
Q. You spoke of supplying the West as far as Kansas City with fresh fish. What time is consumed from the time those fish are taken out until they are consumed in Kansas City?-A. Probably ten days.
Q. They can by their freezing processes keep the fish for months and months before they send them out?—A. Yes.
Q. And supply the market as they please with frozen fish?-A. Yes.
EXTENT OF FRESH FISHING INTERESTS.
Q. Have you any idea as to the extent of the fresh-fish market in this country?A. No, sir; I can not give you any reliable information except as to our own market. We handle here in Boston about 60,000,000 pounds per annum; that includes all kinds of fresh fish.
CURING OF FRESH FISH AFTER LANDING.
Q. Your idea is that that item of our tariff law which says “fish fresh for immediate consumption" ought not to apply to any of these frozen fish?—A. Yes. I do not see why frozen fish can not go on the list as cured fish, as well as salt fish. They are certainly cured for preservation, are they not? They are not cured for immediate consumption.
Q. Suppose a cargo of balibut comes into Gloucester fresh, and is shipped from Gloucester fresh to Boston; is there anything to prevent those fish being cured in Boston?
The WITNESS. Y mean foreign fish, from Nova Scotia?
A. Well, no, sir; there is nothing that I know of. I did hear this summer of a Nova Scotia vessel coming in, and they had to pay duties, but I am not sufficiently versed in that matter to give any accurate information about it.
Q. Is there any way, under the present tariff law, which admits free of duty fish fresh for immediate consumption, by which you can prevent the landing of fresh fish and their subsequent curing?-A. I do not know any possible way. Take this case: We had shipped to us from Halifax on last Monday's steamer between 113,000 and 114,000 mackerel; they were bought at Halifax by telegraph. We buy mackerel according to their lengths, those from 13} inches up being considered large. They telegraphed that the fish were from 111 to 13. We ordered them, and they were