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By Senator FRYE:
By Senator SaulSBURY:
UNCERTAINTY OF DEEP-SEA FISHING.
Gloucester has within the last two years lost, in provisions, vessels, and boats, several hundred thousand dollars in Southern tishing. But once in a while one vegsel will make a good stock. It is like a lottery-one loses and another makes a fortune.
THE QUESTION OF LOCALITY.
There is nothing against any locality that would enter into the case one particle. There is no feeling among the fishermen. There is no desire to deprive any man in any locality of his rights.
Šenator ŠAULSBURY. I was not thinking so much of the fishing interest as I was of the community who consume. I understand that the cans of spring fish are sold cheaper than those which are put up at a later season, and are better fish. If, therefore, you take away the privilege of a certain class of supplying poor people, the question is whether you would not deprive them of the opportunity of purchasing any fish and force them to do without.
Mr. WRIGHTINGTON. The quantity of these Southern fish canned is very small. The principal use they are put to is to salt them in barrels and packages.
Senator SAULSBURY. You mean that in that form they are sold better and at a lower figure than the fish caught at a later season?
Mr. WRIGATINGTON. Yes, sir.
The WITNESS. I would like to ask Mr. Wrightington if the better quality of mackerel are not sold as cheap and often cheaper than the early ones.
That is the case, isn't it?
Mr. WRIGHTINGTON. No; I don't know that it is. Of course, the price of fresh fish is determined to some extent by the quantity on hand, as well as by other considerations.
TESTIMONY OF EDWIN P. COOK.
PROVINCETOWN, Mass., October 1, 1886. Edwin P. Cook sworn and examined.
By Senator EDMUNDS:
Q. Where do the mackerel come from that you deal in?-A. The shores of St. Lawrence Bay.
Q. Have any vessels from your place been up there this year?–A. Very few.
Q. Did they have much of a catch?-A. It was not a successful voyage to them this year. There was only one vessel that brought in a full fare.
(1. Where are the mackerel generally caught up there, in respect of the inshore line, as it is called?
The Witness. Where I have been in the bay myself? Do you mean my knowledge? Senator Edmunds. Yes, your knowledge, and information as well.
AMERICAN FISHERY INTERESTS.
A. I have been up there three years. One year we caught the most of our fish off
Q. How near the shore were your catches made?-A. Within about a mile of shore.
Q. Did you fish near the shore because the fish were there, or because it was more convenient, or why?-A. The schools were there at that time, and that was the best fishing, of course.
Q. How long was that ago?-A. That was eighteen years ago.
Q. What is your information as to where our people fish up there?-A. They fish on the same grounds I have named, except Magdalen Islands; they haven't fished around there this season.
Q. What do you do up there for bait for mackerel; or do you fish with nets entirely?-A. We fish entirely with seines.
Q. So that the bait question is not a disturbing element?—A. No, sir.
Q. Where are the codfish caught up there that you deal in?-A. I am not dealing in codfish at the present time. I believe the last I had was caught on the Grand Banks.
Q. You do not deal in codfish now?-A. No, sir; I do not.
Q. Where are most of the codfish taken that come to Provincetown?-A. I have the only vessel in the place, and the only one for some twenty-five or thirty years.
Q. Your vessels are all mackerel catchers?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. What is the character of the mackerel that you catch up there compared with those caught off our coast, in respect of quality?--A. They are not so good as our shore mackerel.
Q. What is the reason? Are they not so large or so fat?-A. They are sometimes larger, but not so white and fat as our shore mackerel.
Q. But they are precisely the same fish, I suppose?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. What is your information from all these fishermen, and what is your own knowledge gained from experience in the business, in regard to the effect that the treaty of 1870 had upon your fishing interests—that treaty giving the British people the right to bring in fish free?-A. I think it was ruinous to the business. It drove me out of one branch of the business entirely, and caused me to lose every dollar I had put into it.
Q. What was its effect upon the retail market, so far as you know?
A. I had a fare of fish that averaged me $2 a quintal, and from my best information in regard to the fish as I sent them into the market—that is, without being prepared, skinned, or anything of the kind-they brought from 5 to 8 cents a pound; and the fish that I sold that were skinned and put into boxes the parties told me they got 10 to 12 cents a pound for at retail. I was selling at an average of 2 cents a pound when they cost me 3 cents a pound to catch and get them home here.
Q. The effect of that treaty and the practice under it, then, if I understand you, was not to make the fish any cheaper to the people who ate them, but only to undersell you in your trade with the wholesale dealers?--A. Yes, sir; and to overstock the market and give us no opportunity to combine, as other industries of the country have done.
EXTENT OF THE FISHING BUSINESS OF PROVINCETOWN.
Q. About what quantity of fish come into your place per season?
Q. Take it for ten years together, what would be the average?-A. As our fleet has been cut down nearly one-half during the last ten years, I could not give a fair estimate. During the past five years we landed about 30,000 barrels of mackerel.
Q. About what feet have you?-A. About thirty sail.
Q. Do they make more than one voyage a year usually?-A. In the mackerel business it is according to the catch. Some years we have made only one trip to the Bay shores, and come home and quit it.
Q. Have they fished in the Bay of Chaleur this year?-A. Part of the fleet.
Q. Were any of them interfered with in any way?-A. One of them has been seized.
Q. What was her name?-A. The Highland Light.
Q. Where was she, according to your information, when she was seized?—A. Off west of East Point, at a place called Chapels, I think.
Q. In the Bay of Chaleur?-A. No; on the north side of Prince Edwards Island. The northeast point of Prince Edwards Island is called East Point.
Q. Was she seized at sea, or where?-A. She was seized, as we understand, within the 3-mile limit.
Q. Have any of her officers come back here?-A. Yes, sir; her captain came home. Q. He is not here to-day?-A. No, sir; I don't know as he is in town.
Q. Was she seized on acccount of fishing within the 3-mile limit?-A. She was lying to, as vessels usually do to catch mackerel on the hook, as I understand, and was throwing bait, and one of the crew was catching codfish.
Q. Is that the only vessel from your place that has been interfered with?--A. Yes, sir.
Q. They did not undertake to seize any of them for fishing outside of the 3-mile limit in the Bay of Chaleur?-A. No, sir; they were never interrupted in their busi
Q. So you have known of no instance this year where the headland theory has been insisted upon?-A. No, sir; not a case.
AVERAGE QUANTITY OF MACKEREL TAKEN.
Q. I do not know how you answered my question,if you answered it I did not hear—as to the average quantity of mackerel taken by your fleet in ten years.---A. I said that I could not give the exact average, but there was one year that we landed in the neighborhood of 30,000, and this year 4,000. Mackerel fishing is very uneven fishing
Q. Do you bring any fresh fish from up there?—A. No, sir.
PRIVILEGE OF LANDING,
Q. You do not go ashore for any purpose except for supplies, I suppose?-A. No, sir; and they are not allowed to get those.
DUTY ON FISH.
Q. What has been the effect of the termination of the treaty last year? Do you get any better prices for your fish?–A. Last year at this time I could buy fish packed for $6.50, or $7 for unculled fish. This year I have paid for the same kind of fish, unculled, perhaps not so good, from $13 to $14.
Q. You say the catch is not nearly so great?-A. It has not been.
Q. Has the retail price of fish, according to your information, risen on account of this duty?–A. Yes, correspondingly. There is not so much profit made on fish this year in my business as there was last, fish being so high.
Q. I understand that. But taking the people who buy salted mackerel from the grocer in Boston, or Provincetown, or anywhere, how much more, if anything, do they have to pay on account of this duty?-A. I think, in proportion to the price of the fish, the dealers are not getting so high a profit as they did last year.
Q. We understand from the dealers in Boston that the retail prices to the people who actually buy the mackerel from the grocery are pretty much the same all the time; that there is a pretty large margin, as you describe, with the retail people, so that they do not follow the rise and fall of the market much?-A. I think it is more like that in the fresh-fish business; they have but one retail price for fresh codfish the year round.
CLASSIFICATION, REPACKING, AND SHIPMENT OF MACKEREL.
Q. Where do your mackerel go that come to this port?—A. New York, Boston, and Philadelphia, and some few to Baltimore.
Q. Do you take them out of barrels and repack them?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. Are they assorted at the time they are first taken on the fishing ground?-A. No, sir; they just catch them and put all sizes in one barrel.
Q. Then all the classification is done when they are repacked?—A. Yes, sir. If I buy them I recull them.
NATIONALITY OF FISHERMEN.
Q. What nationality are the people who are engaged in your fleet?-A. The captains are mostly natives of the town or of Cape Cod.
Q. What I mean is whether they are citizens of the United States or foreigners? A. The captains are obliged to be naturalized citizens, and most of the crews are not natives of the town; a great many are foreigners.
Q. Where do you get them?-X. We pick them up in Boston and some in Nova Scotia.
COMPENSATION OF CREWS.
Q. Are the crews paid in money, or do they receive a share of the fish?-A. They are paid in different ways. Some are paid by the thousand on the stock; that is, some are paid $25 a thousand, some are paid one forty-fifth of the whole stock, and the remainder goes to the owner and the vessel.
DECREASE OF FISHING.
Q. Is the fishing business at your place reviving at all?-A. No, sir; it is declining every year.
Q. What is the reason for that?-A. The scarcity of fish. Previous to this year we had a winter business, which we have not now. If we still had a winter business we could weather these bad years, and get through them better than we do. Last winter was discouraging.
Q. You lost your winter business on account of the fact that there were no fish off our own coast?-A. No, sir; we never had anything to do with the Grand Bank business, but we had a run of oysters from Virginia to New York in the winter, and that is entirely gone.
Q. That is gone entirely on account of the railroads and steamships, I suppose?A. Yes, sir.
Q. What time in the year do you begin mackerel fishing?-A. We began about the 1st of June this year.
Q. Where?-Å. Off our coast.
Q. How far south?-A. I think none of the fleet went farther south than Block Island.
Q. And then they fished northward?—A. Yes; worked to the northward with the fish.
Q. What time does the mackerel season begin up in the Bay of Chaleur and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and around there?-A. They begin to catch fish in there as early as the middle of June.
Q. And how late does it continue?-A. They fish in that vicinity for fish to can, around Cape Breton and Sydney, as late as Thanksgiving and the last of November. The shore men catch fish there late every year.
Q. I mean the large fishing by the fleet. How late, ordinarily, would you expect to get a fare?-A. Our people usually come away about the middle of October if they spend the season in the Bay.
Q. Do they carry supplies enough to last them the whole season?-A. Yes, sir; for the trip.
Q. In an ordinary time, a fair, average fishing trip, how long would the vessel be gone from your port to make her fare and come back?-A. I have been gone on a 500-barrel trip three months, and made a successful voyage of it.
S. Doc. 231, pt 5-12
OUTFIT OF PROVISIONS.
Q. Do you ordinarily fit out your feet with five months' provisions?-A. No, sir; three months is the longest I have known.
Q. Is that the usual time?-A. Yes; about three months.
Q. So that the mackerel vessels would have very little occasion to touch for supplies of food?-A. Only for fresh provisions, potatoes, and such things.
Q. And water?-A. And water.
By Senator Frye:
A. I either want a treaty of the freest sort with them, or I want the highest tariff placed upon fish, one or the other, no half-way.
Q. Which do you prefer, high duties on fish, or a treaty which admits fish free?A. I would take my chances with a duty on fish, so that the Canadian fish could not be brought into our market.
Q. Is it any special object to you to fish for mackerel within the three-mile limits?A. Yes, sir.
Q. But for no other fish, of course?-A. I am not engaged in the cod fishing.
Q. You would like the privilege of fishing within the three-mile limit?-A. I would rather have a high protective tariff, and let them have their three-mile limit.
EFFECT OF TREATIES OF 1854 AND 1870.
Q. You spoke about the decline in your fisheries and of the cutting off of your winter business. Do you know what effect the treaty of 1870 and the reciprocity treaty of 1854 had on the fishermen?--A. No, sir.
TESTIMONY OF JOHN SWETT.
PROVINCETOWN, Mass., October 1, 1886. JOHN SWETT Sworn and examined.
By Senator Frye:
Q. Have you ever been a fish dealer?—A. I haven't been a fish dealer; I have been a tisherman for thirty years.
Q. In what capacity?-A. From cook to captain.
Q. From what year to what year?-A. I came ashore about 1845; before that time I was engaged in fishing from the time I was a boy.
Q. From 1845 forward you were engaged in the fishing business?—A. From 1845 back.
Q. So that you have not been engaged in the fishing business since either of these treaties went into effect?-A. Not actively, but I have lived in a fishing community, and of course have heard of everything going on.
EFFECT OF TREATIES.
Q. What, in your opinion, was the effect of those treaties upon our fishing interests?
The WITNESS. Do you speak of this last treaty of ten or twelve years' duration? Senator FRYE. Yes.
A. It has built up the Nova Scotia fisheries to the detriment of the New England fisheries, in my opinion.
Q. Why do you say that?-A. Because, in my opinion, the duties taken off of fish gave them the same privileges into our ports that we have in theirs, and they being