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a people that live cheaper than ours, their vessels were built cheaper, and manned cheaper. They saw that that was their chance. They could outdo us in our own markets, for the reason that their materials were cheaper. They were people that had not got up to the highest standard of living, you might say, that we in New England had. They lived coarser, and they could come in and outdo us in our markets.
Q. That is, they could afford to sell cheaper than you could afford to sell?—A. Yes; and live by it. It is probably known to you that they have built up large fishing interests in the last ten or twelve years.
EFFECT OF DUTY UPON THE CONSUMER.
Q. Do you know anything about the retail market for fish?-A. Not specially; I have a general knowledge of how it is conducted.
Q. In your opinion, would taking off the duty make the fish cheaper to the consumer? I do not mean to the wholesaler.-A. That is a hard question to answer. There are so many ways of doing things that it would be doubtful to me if they would be furnished any cheaper to the consumer. I think the business would be very apt to be so managed through the traders and dealers that they would not get their fish any cheaper.
Q. Who is the direct purchaser from the Nova Scotia fishermen; the wholesaler, is he not?-A. The wholesaler, yes, in these large ports like Boston.
Q. Both fresh and salt fish they sell to the wholesaler?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. And in your opinion the effect of the duty is rather upon the wholesaler than upon the retailer or consumer?-A. Yes, sir.
THE FISHING INTERESTS OF WELLFLEET.
Q. Do you know how many vessels belonging to Wellfleet are engaged in mackerel fishing?-A. I think we have about thirty sail at the present time.
Q. How many have you ever had?-A. We have had as high as eighty to one hundred. At that time they did not average so large as they do now. But our fleet is very much reduced. The low class of mackerel taken these last two or three years has made the business very unprofitable.
FREE AMERICAN MARKET.
Q. State whether or not the liberty of our market to the Canadian does not render the business a little more uncertain and hazardous than it was before.-A. It operates in this way: If there is a large catch of mackerel on the Nova Scotia shores or in the Bay of St. Lawrence, those fish are so numerous in places up and down the Nova Scotia shore that they are brought into our markets and crowd the price of our fish down from a fair remuneration to a price that is not a living one. If the catch is small in the Nova Scotia waters, our market is kept at a fair kind of rate; but just as soon as they have a large catch, the depressing effect is felt on the prices of our fish.
Q. So that the tendency is to break the market between the fishermen and the wholesaler?-A. Yes, sir; so that the fishermen can not get a living out of the business.
REMUNERATION OF FISHERMEN,
Q. Do you know what portion of the retailer's price for fish the fisherman actually gets?—A. We will say, for instance, that a vessel comes in with a trip of mackerel of 200 barrels. The captain will sell his cargo to the wholesaler, say, for $10. If the wholesaler can get fifty cents or a dollar above that, he considers he has made a good trade. That is about the way it goes. Then after they get into the retailer's hands I don't know much about the business; they get what they can, I suppose.
Q. In your opinion does the fisherman get over two-fifths of the ultimate price of the fish?-A. I don't know as I understand the bearing of that question exactly.
Q. Suppose I pay 10 cents for a mackerel, as a consumer; in your opinion does the fisherman who originally caught that mackerel get over two-fifths of that 10 cents?-A. I should hardly think he did; it has to go through two or three hands.
Q. What is your remedy for this?-A. So far as the interests of the fishermen of New England are concerned, my remedy is that they should have the control of their own market; that is to say, they should have the preference of catching fish for the United States over foreigners.
THE THREE-MILE LIMIT.
Q. Suppose they should let you go in and fish within the three-mile shore line if · you let them send their fish in here free; would not that be a fair trade?-A. I don't think that would help the price of fish any ior our fishermen. Our fishermen must get a certain amount for their fish in order to make it remunerative enough to follow the business. If they can't do that, they must abandon it. The supply of our market by foreigners tends to depress the market to such a low standard that our fisherman can not survive.
Q. In your opinion is it to-day specially desirable to fish within their three-mile shore line. I do not mean measuring from headland to headland. I mean within the 3 miles, following the sinuosities of the shore?-A. I think it amounts to very little to us. As far as I have heard the reports this season, I think the fishermen say they have caught very few fish within those limits, and really there have been very few fish within those limits.
SEINE V. HOOK AND LINE.
Q. When you fished for mackerel you fished with hook and line?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. As a matter of fact, is it not dangerous to our giant purse seines to fish within 3 miles of that rocky coast?-A. It is very dangerous; the seines are apt to be torn badly.
Q. Do you know what those purse seines cost?-A. They cost from $600 to $800 or $1,000.
Q. If they are damaged on the bottom it causes serious trouble, does it not?-A. Yes, sir; it is almost ruinous to the voyage. We had one of our vessels that went down into the Bay of St. Lawrence this season; she arrived there just in the nick of time, when mackerel were plenty. But the first time the seine was thrown they tore it all to pieces. There they were, down there in the Bay of St. Lawrence, without any means of procuring a voyage.
Q. As a matter of fact, has not the invention of the giant purse seine and that method of fishing entirely broken up the old system of fishing?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. And it has taken away the usefulness of fishing within the 3-mile shore line off the Canada coast?-A. It has really, in my opinion.
Q. Our fishermen, as I understand it, start early in March down on the North Carolina coast, and use their seines from there northward. --A. Yes, sir. Probably it is known to you that there have been but very few mackerel caught on the New England or Southern coast this season.
We attribute it in a great measure to casting so inany of these seines early in the season down on the Southern coast. That has a tendency to turn the mackerel farther from the coast, and in consequence they have been driven down into the Bay of St. Lawrence.
Q. Your opinion is that there should be a close time on mackerel?-A. I think so.
Q. From Varch to June?-A. That is their spawning season. The theory is that where fish spawn there they are likely to return.
Q. I suppose that you do not regard mackerel as good in the spawning season?A. No, sir; they are very poor.
Q. What time do you think they get through spawning?-A. In the month of June they are pretty well through.
Q. When they are really spawning they are on the bottom, are they not?-A. That is a question I can't answer.
Q. You do not ordinarily take many mackerel from the first of June to the first of July?-A. Well, yes; considerable many. Some seasons not so many. They are then considered to be about on the coast of Maine.
Q. How do you regard the importance of buying bait in the Canadian waters?--A. That seems to me to be a privilege that ought not to be denied.
Q. How important is it to you?-A. It is more important to the cod fishers than to the mackerel men.
Q. I am talking now about cod fishing. -A. I am not really prepared to answer that question. These Provincetown people can answer that question better.
DUTY ON FISH.
By Senator SAULSBURY: Q. I understand you to say that your opinion is that the American fishermen ought to have and control the American market for fish?-A. That seems to me to be reasonable.
Q. This year, you say, there has been a very small catch of fish on our coast?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. What would be the effect upon the demand for fish if the Canadian fishermen were prohibited from selling here by such a tariff that they could not afford to do it?-A. You see that it has operated very favorably for the Canadians this season. The scarcity of mackerel on our own coast has caused the price of mackerel to be quite high. Therefore the Canadians have been able to pay the duties and bring their mackerel into our market and realize fair remuneration. If the fish had been plenty on our coast this season they could not have done such a thing; nor, if the prices had been low, could they have afforded to pay duties; it would not have afforded them a living remuneration.
Q. I want to inquire whether you think that the catch of fish in our waters would be sufficient to supply the demand of the country at all seasons for mackerel?-A. Well, I don't know about that, I am sure. Of course we shouldn't have so many fish as we should if the foreigners were allowed to bring them in.
Q. And that would necessarily enhance the price of the fish?-A. Well, yes; that would probably bring fish up to a living business for our fishermen.
MACKEREL FISHING ON OUR SOUTHERN COAST.
Q. Who are the parties that do the principal part of the fishing down on the Southern coast? Is it the Northern fishermen?-A. Yes, sir. Gloucester furnishes the larger part of the fleet in that business; the principal part. Portland also furnishes a part.
Q. And your opinion is that that work drives the fish out so that they do not strike our coast again soon?-A. Yes, sir; that is one theory we have. Not only so, but we think that destroying so many mackerel when they are full of spawn has a tendency to diminish the quantity of fish.
TESTIMONY OF BENJAMIN D. GIFFORD.
PROVINCETOWN, Mass., October 1, 1886. BENJAMIN D. GIFFORD, sworn and examined.
By Senator Frye:
FISHING INTEREST OF CHATHAM.
Q. Can you state generally about the fishing fleet?-A. Well, so far as this question under consideration is concerned, our fishermen come there very little.
Q. I mean how large is your fleet?-A. About twenty vessels.
Q. Are those vessels mackerel fishing?-A. At this season of the year, yes; but cod fishing earlier in the season.
Q. So they carry on both kinds of fishing?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. The codfish are taken with bait?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. So your fishermen from Chatham do not desire the privilege of touching in the British Provinces for bait?-A. No, sir.
Q. Where do they commence fishing for mackerel?—A. They commence on the coast and work down to Block Island, and then on down the coast of Maine a little
Q. Commencing when?–A. In the middle of summer; I should think about July.
Q. Do they fish within the 3-mile shore line?-A. No, sir.
The WITNENS. No; they do not, because they do not go there at all. Only one of our fleet has been there this season.
Q. What was his catch?-A. He caught 62 barrels.
Q. In your experience within the last ten years, since the invention of giant purse seines, is there any profit in fishing within the 3-mile limits of the shore line?A. I don't think there is. The damage that would be occasioned to the property would be sufficient, so far as I have understood, to make it unprofitable.
Q. There is great risk of damage to the seines on account of the rocks in the shoal water?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. And only one of your fishermen has been in there this last year?—A. Yes, sir; he just arrived this morning.
Q. Do you know how it was when the treaty was in force?—A. They have never been in the habit of going there, to my knowledge.
Q. So that there is nothing that your fishermen of Chatham want of Canada?-A. Not anything at all.
Q. Then I take it that your opinion is that no treaty is necessary ?-A. No treaty is necessary.
Q. In your judgment, what would be the effect of any treaty that would admit fish free?--A. I only gather my information from the fishermen themselves. They all say that it would make the price of fish so low that they could not remain in the business.
Q. I suppose you mean the price that the wholesaler pays to the catchers?-A. Yes, sir; what they realize.
COST OF OUTFIT.
Q. Have you any idea what it costs your fishermen for an outfit?-A. No, sir; I don't know as I could make a very explicit answer to that. We had a new vessel built last year, which I think cost about $7,000.
Q. What was her tonnage?-A. She was about 75 tons.
Q. Do you know the difference of cost between Canadian fishing vessels and ours? A. I do not.
Q. What is the length of a codfish voyage of your vessels?-A. They go out Monday morning and come in Saturday night right along through the fishing season. They go from home off onto Nantucket Shoals. Q. They do not fish up on the Banks?-A. No, sir; not on the Grand Banks at all.
THREE-MILE LIMIT, ETC. Q. Do you know the length of a voyage for a fishing cruise to the Grand Banks?A. No, sir.
Q. Is there anything special that you know about these fishery matters that you desire to state?-A. No, sir; our fishermen at Chatham were all away, and they wanted somebody to come up from Chatham, and so I undertook to come, although I don't profess to know much about it.
Q. In what you say here do you express the views of your fishermen?-A. I do, so far as I know them.
Q. The views that you have learned from them?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. Have you heard any expression of a desire on their part for the privilege of fishing within the Canadian 3-mile limit?—A. They don't want that. I put down the words that the captain told me who arrived this morning. I asked him about that, and he said that the mackerel were mostly caught by the fleet this year outside of the 3-mile limit, and that he caught none of his 62 barrels inside of that limit.
Q. That is to say, outside the 3-mile limit when they were taking them off the Canadian coast?-A. Yes, sir.
TESTIMONY OF CAPT. HENRY COOK.
PROVINCETOWN, Mass., October 1, 1886. Capt. HENRY Cook sworn and examined.
By Senator FRYE:
Q. How long have you lived here?-A. I have lived here seventy-three years next November.
Q. You were born here?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. What has been your business?-A. My first business was going to sea in the fishing business and in the whaling business; for the last thirty-five years I have stayed ashore, owning a fleet of whaling and fishing vessels. I once had four whaling vessels, bnt Semmes took them and destroyed them. Previous to that I had some mackerel fishermen, but that business seemed to all run out. Since 1871, the commencement of the reciprocity treaty, it was not a profitable business, and I did not have many mackerel fishermen; I had only two or three, and as it was not a paying business I took them out. Since that time I have been in the codfish business, which was a profitable business until after the beginning of the reciprocity treaty; since then it has been dying out by inches.
I believe we have had had but one year since the beginning of the reciprocity treaty that we have made anything to speak of, and that was in 1882. I think in 1882 we averaged about $1.50 per quintal for our fish, and we made a good, fair business—we didn't need anything better than that. But since that time and for the last three years my vessels are every one in debt a good deal. I think I havn't paid the captains a dollar for the last three years, and they owe me $4,500. They are not able to pay me anything, and I suppose I shall have to lose that.
COST AND OUTFIT OF VESSELS.
Q. Select one of your best vessels and give me her name?—A. The largest one of them is the Lizzie IV. Madison.
Q. What did she cost?-A. Seventeen thousand dollars.
Q. What is her tonnage?-A. Since the tonnage has been cut down her tonnage is 187 or 188 tons.
Q. How many men does she take?-A. Twenty-two.
Q. Please state the length, on the average, for one of her cod-fishing trips. A. They average about three and a half to four months.
Q. What is the cost of her outfit?-A. That is about $3,000; the wages are about $3,000—that is, for this year; one year I paid $5,200 wages; that was the highest, and this year is the lowest.
Q. What would they be paid per man?-A. They would be paid $140 for the three months.
Q. Do your vessels fish on the Banks?-A. Yes, sir; on the Banks of Newfoundland altogether.
Q. What are your necessities about bait there?-A. We never went in without bait; I always put aboard all the bait we wanted.
Q. What kind of bait?–A. Clams. I put 130 barrels of bait aboard the Lizzie W. Madison and 55 barrels on the smaller ones.