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By Senator FRYE: Q. Have you any idea of the profits of the owners?-A. In many places they have been out of pocket in the last ten years.
By Senator EDMUNDS: Q. For how many months would the average of $20 run?-A. For seven months. Q. That would be $210 a year?-A. Yes, sir.
WINTER OCCUPATIONS OF FISHERMEN.
Q. What occupation do these fishing men pursue when their voyages are over?A. A very few of them keep at the winter fishing; perhaps about one-third of the whole number only keep at it during the winter, as it is extra hazardous.
Q. Do the others find employment in the winter?-A. As a rule, they lie by.
INCREASE OF CANADIAN FISHING FLEET. By Senator FRYE: Q. What effect has the treaty of 1870–71 had upon our fisheries and upon the Canadian, within your observation, as to the increase of the fleets, etc.?-A. Nearly all their fishing fleet has been built since that. Several years ago there was a treaty similar to this under which they prospered and built up quite a fleet of vessels, then there came a change. In the meantime, between the old treaty and the new, their fishing industry died out and their vessels were sold or made way with, so that at the commencement of this last treaty they had a very small fishing interest outside of the States. The people of that country come here and engage in tishing during the summer, and then take their profits home and live during the winter. But free trade gives them a chance to live and do business at home.
Q. Has that increased their fleet immensely?-A. Yes; I judge two-thirds, if not nearly all of it, has been built up since that treaty went into effect.
Q. Have you noticed the result upon our fisheries since that treaty went into effect?-A. I know that there is nearly a whole year's catch ahead that they can not sell; an absolute failure, like this year's failure, gives a chance to work off the old supply; there has been a surplus ahead for three years.
Q. How about the increase in the fresh-fish business in the last fifteen years?A. I believe fifteen years ago there were in Boston some 10 or 15 firms in the freshfish business, and now-I haven't the exact figures, but I should say there are 50 to 75 in the same business in Boston.
Q. So that it has increased immensely?-A. Yes.
Q. By reason of the processes of freezing and transporting in refrigerator cars?A. Yes, sir; and the market has improved, and transportation is much more perfect, and they reach markets that formerly they did not reach.
Q. What effect, in your judgment, has that had upon the salt-fish business?-A. It has greatly reduced the demand in the Northern States, but in the Southern States it must remain nearly the same, because they can not get at the fresh fish.
Q. But on the whole it has reduced the demand for salt fish?-A. Yes, sir; and in time I think it will still further reduce it.
Q. The fresh-fish business has increased very heavily during the last six years of the treaty?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. In your opinion it will continue to increase, and thus still further affect the salt-fish business?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. Then, in your judgment, what would be the operation upon our fishery business of allowing them, under the item in the tariff bill, “fish, fresh, for immediate consumption," to bring in all these fresh fish?—A. In ten years from now you will see quite a change if the past treaty arrangement should go into force again, and they would undoubtedly conduct the whole of the fishing industry of the continent, because they don't have to live under the same conditions we do.
Q. So that you would look, if they had our markets, to see the gradual extinction of our fishery business?-A. I would. In fact, if I continued in the business under new treaty regulations, if I had nothing else to turn to in this country, I would move there and carry my business over there, because I could do the business there so much better.
Q. Do you think that would be the result to our fishermen?-A. I do.
NATIONALITY OF FISHERMEX. Q. What proportion of the men from New England engaged in the fishery business are American citizens?-A. I don't really have any chance to get at statistics to find
I think the most of them go from the State of Maine. During the season in the bay we had three that were formerly natives of the Province of Nova Scotia, but they now live in some part of the States.
Q. They are naturalized citizens of the United States?-A. Yes, sir.
TRASSSHIPMENT OF FISH OVERLAND. By Senator SAULSBURY: Q. If you had the privilege of landing your fish and shipping them by rail do you think you would be able to compete with the Canadians?-A. No, sir; that wouldn't make any difference, I guess, as long as the privilege remains; and in fact it is said
I now that we are no better off by the abrogation of this treaty, so far as fresh fish go. This is an exceptional year, however. Nobody was prepared for this year. Nobody was in any condition to manage fresh fish except myseli, because I have this steam vessel, and by means of the quicker transportation given by that steamer have saved time which amounted in the aggregate to some thirty days or more.
Q. What advantage would that be to the men engaged in fishing in schooners? Could or could they not, if they had that privilege, make more trips than they do make?-A. I don't know. It would require considerable preparation to have the salt, barrels, and other necessaries at the railroad terminus, and those things they would be obliged to buy from Canada. They might save sometimes. They use up from twelve to eighteen days on the round voyage between the fishing grounds and home, and they would only use about four to six days the other way; but they would have the transportation to pay as well as the large profits on the supplies they would have to buy there. So that the gain to them would not be so very much. "On the other hand, as a rule, they get better prices at home when the fish are handled from the vessel than they would to take them off the ship and send them over the railroads.
Q. You did not know, as I understood, what proportion of the men engaged in our fishery business were native-born Americans ?-A. No, sir. My own experience is that most of the men go from the State of Maine.
By Senator FRYE: Q. What is your opinion as to the propriety of a close term up to the 1st of June?A. Of course, their net fishing and trap fishing on the Nova Scotia coast affect the supply just the same as ours. We are all at work on the small fish, and we all would be equally benefited by a close time. I don't think there is anything to be gained in the long run by trying to fish for mackerel south.
Q. In your opinion it would be better to have a close time?-A. I think we should be benefited in five or ten years; it would take nearly that time to see any appreciable benefit.
Q. Do you think the mackerel supply has been diminished ?-A. I do.
Q. By taking them early in the spring?–A. Yes; and by destroying the hatching grounds.
Q. They are not good, I take it, in the spring ?-A. They seem to market very well when fresh. They are not good to use as salt fish. They are similar to shad and other kinds of fish that spawn at that season.
By Senator SAU'LSBURY: Q. Is the principal part of the fishing done, from Cape Hatteras, for instance, to opposite New York, by Northern men?-A. Yes, sir; by these Maine and Massachusetts vessels. There are no others engaged in the mackerel fisheries, that I know of, in the States.
HABITS OF MACKEREL.
By Senator EDMUNDS: Q. What time do the mackerel that are ready to spawn come in on the British coasts up there?-A. They come in during the month of June. It comes later than our season, because the fish do not get along so soon. Off New Jersey and New York they are with us in April and May. It takes that difference in time to make the passage.
Q. Do you think the same schools of fish that are found at Cape Hatteras go on northward to Block Island and clear up to the British coasts?-A. Oh, yes; we know they do; we follow them day after day. They easily make from 20 to 50 miles a day. Q. So that from your experience you think it is perfectly clear that the same schools move along the whole coast to the northeast?-A. Yes, sir; we know they do.
By Senator SAULSBURY: Q. How far off from shore do these schools of mackerel that you have followed usually go?-A. On the map you can see very plainly. When they are running in spring they seem to leave the Gulf Stream and make directly for shoal soundings. In the winter the shoal water is colder, but when the water gets warmer they make for deeper water north and east until the spawning time comes. They follow the shoal soundings until they get to Maine, Massachusetts, or Nova Scotia, and in some instances I think they go as far as Labrador to spawn.
By Senator EDMUNDS: Q. How far off shore down at Hatteras and along the Jersey coast do you ordinarily get the most fish?-A. About 25 to 35 miles.
Q. Then when you get up to Block Island they are closer in, I suppose?-A. No, sir; not often. Some seasons there they run 60 miles off shore, and other seasons they run within 5 to 10 miles off shore.
Q. Taking the whole eastern coast of the United States together, what would be the distance off shore that you would expect to get the great bulk of mackerel, if you were going to fish for ten years right along?-A. I should imagine it would be about 40 miles from the coast.
Q. So on our shores you would not count the three-mile limit as of any value at all?—A. No, sir; but then there are exceptions. Senator EDMUNDS. But I am speaking of it in a general way.
By Senator FRYE: Q. Is that true of British water?-A. No, sir; I don't think it is. Their coasts make differently, somehow. After the mackerel get in there they seem to be driven inshore by a species of large fish that pursues them within 10 or 15 miles of the coast. At any rate, we don't go outside, because where we find fish there is no occasion to go farther. Our average distance would perhaps be 5 miles up there.
Q. Suppose, in fishing up there 4 or 5 miles from the shore, outside of the threemile shore line, you run across a school of mackerel and the wind is toward the shore, how long does it take you to get into the three-mile limit?—A. A wind like that will cause us to drift nearly half a mile an hour.
Q. So that before you could gather in your school of mackerel you would be inside the three-mile limit?-A. With a very large school we would.
TAKING MACKEREL WITH PURSE SEINE.
By Senator EDMUNDS: Q. From the time you begin to swing around a school of mackerel how long would it ordinarily take, in weather that is not very rough, to get them up so that you could put your ship under sail and stand off?
The WITNESS. To take them aboard?
A. It takes usually about twenty minutes to get the fish ready for removal to the vessel, and then we can handle about 100 barrels an hour, with a very active crew. I should imagine they would consume nearly two hours on the average, however, with a hundred barrels.
Q. Can you not get under way until they are all in?-A. No, sir; we have to lie still; we couldn't move 50 feet without tearing the net. A hundred barrels of fish is a very heavy mass, and we are obliged to use as light netting as possible on account of convenience in handling.
Q. How many fish were there in the largest number you ever took in one haul, if you call it a haul, with a purse seine?-A. We have saved 600 barrels. In the Gulf of St. Lawrence the past year from one school we got 150 barrels. The schools run smaller there because the water is shoaler.
TESTIMONY OF CAPT. EDWIN T. LEWIS.
GLOUCESTER, Mass., October 4, 1886. Capt. EDWIN T. Lewis sworn and examined.
By Senator EDMUNDS:
Q. How long have you been engaged in fishing, whether as master or otherwise?A. I think about fifteen years.
Q. Where have you chiefly conducted the business?-A. Here.
Q. I mean when at sea. Where did you catch your fish?-A. The most of them on this coast.
Q. Have you ever fished in what we call British water-that is to say, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, on the Grand Banks, etc.?-A. I have fished in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Q. Did you fish for mackerel or cod?--Q. For mackerel.
Q. How many seasons have you fished in the Gulf of St. Lawrence?-A. Since I have been master of a vessel I have been there three seasons.
Q. How many while not master?-A. Two, I think.
Q. Have you seen, before, this map hanging on the wall of this room?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. Can you point out to us about the places where you fished?-A. Yes, sir. (The witness did so.]
Q. From your experience do you understand this map to be correct, and that this blue represents the chief mackerel-fishing grounds?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. How far out did you take the great bulk of your fish in the five years?-A. From 5 to 6 and 8 miles, probably.
Q. Have you been up there this year?-A. I have.
Q. Have you had any difficulty?-A. Not any. We never harbored but once, going and coming, except in stress.
Q. Did you go through the Strait of Canso?-A. We did.
COMPENSATION OF FISHERMEN.
Q. How many men did you employ this year?-A. I had 17.
Q. The share is the same as Captain Joyce stated, I suppose?-A. The shares are the same, but we go on a little different lay. Our crew gets a share, but they have a few expenses to pay extra.
Q. About how much do they make on a ten years' average?-A. I have only been master of a vessel about eight years. Probably they have made an average of $40 a month and better.
Q. For how many months?-A. For seven or eight months.
Q. What do they do the other four or five months?-A. Very few of them do any. thing; they lie by.
HOOK AND LINE VS. SEINE.
Q. Have you been a mackerel man all the time?-A. All the time. I was winter fishing one winter, haddocking.
Q. You fish, of course, with a purse seine?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. Do any of our fishing vessels, to your knowledge, fish for mackerel with a hock and line?-Å. They die very little.
Q. Do you go fitied out to try to make a catch that way?-A. Yes, sir; we go fitted for both ways, but we only catch very few on the hook.
Q. Why?--A. Because we can't.
Q. You get more by seining?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. Why do you go fitted out with hooks at all yourself?—A. There are times when you can't see them; schools don't always show, and then we lay by, hooking.
Q. What depth of water do you generally get them in when you catch them with a hook?-A. We fish on about the same ground as we do with a purse seine.
Q. But they do not show on the surface?-A. No; sometimes we sweep around the vessel and get some in that way.
Q. In that case why do you not run out your seine and take them in?-A. We do.
Q. I am now speaking of hook fishing. When is it you risk a hook?-A. They show at the surface when we catch them with the purse seine, and when they don't do that we touch them up with bait.
Q. And having got them there you purse them if you can?-A. If we can.
Q. Taking all your mackerel men together, according to your observation, do you think that the right to fish within the 3-mile shore line is of any substantial value to the mackerel-fishing interest of the United States?-A. I do not.
Q. You would not be willing, then, to have the United States give the Canadians any valuable privilege in return for the right to fish within their 3-mile shore line?-A. No, sir.
SALT AND FRESH FISH.
Q. Do you carry ice?-A. We do now on this shore; we never carried any that far. Q. All your sailing fishermen use salt up there, I suppose?-A. Yes, sir.
I Q. Do you assort your fish before you barrel them, or do you put them all together and assort them when you get home?-A. We put them in barrels and salt thein.
Q. Without arranging them by numbers?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. How long does it take you to run from Magdalen Islands here?-A. It will take from eight to ten days.
Q. How far is it?-A. About 700 miles, I should say.
Q. You can not make more than 100 miles in twenty-four hours, on an average? A. Not on an average; no.
NATIONALITY OF FISHERMEN.
Q. Of what nationality are the crews you employ?-A. Mine are Americans; mostly from the State of Maine.
Q. Do you find Canadian fishing vessels in the Gulf fishing on the same grounds where you fish?-A. Yes, sir; they fish on the same grounds we do. They fish inshore sometimes, and we do not.
Q. But, generally, were the Canadian vessels chiefly employed in fishing for mackerel inside or outside the 3 miles?-A. This year they fished with us all the season. I didn't see but very few within the 3-mile limit.
Q. They take their fish into what port?-A. To whatever port they sail from.
SALT AND FRESH FISH.
Q. They put up their fish in salt just the same as our fishermen do?-A. Yes, sir.
Senator EDMUNDS. I did not know but they took their fish fresh and carried them to a railway somewhere.
The WITNESS. Not that I know of.
Q. They get their salt and supplies from their own port?-A. I suppose they do, except I believe they get their purse seines from the United States.
RELATIVE COST OF UNITED STATES AND CANADIAN VESSELS.
Q. Are the provincial vessels about the same size as ours?—A. About the same. Q. And schooner-rigged?-A. Schooner-rigged.
Q. How do they compare in cost, so far as you know, with our vessels?-A. They only cost about two-thirds as much.
COMPENSATION OF FISHERMEX.
Q. Do their men fish on shares?-A. The same as we do, I think; I am not sure. Q. They have about the same lay, you suppose?-A. About the same.