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Q. Have any of those vessels having these fishing licenses that have gone there this year taken what I will call commercial papers—that is, the same sort of papers as a vessel would take that wanted to go to Nova Scotia to trade?
Senator Frye. What you call a permit to trade.
A. There are two kinds of papers. Fishing papers permit them to fish, of course, and then if they wish to go coasting they take out a coasting license. If they are going to trade to Nova Scotia or any foreign port they take out a register. The fishermen who thought they were liable to go in for any purpose whatsoever, to repair damages or for other causes, have taken permits to touch and trade.
Q. (By Senator EDMUNDS.) As well as being registered?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. You speak of their being registered. If they are going in for the purpose of buying ice, for instance, would you call that trading?-A. No, sir. We consider a fishing vessel has authority to procure bait or anything that is necessary for the fishermen.
By Senator FRYE: Q. Under the permit to trade?-A. Under the fishing license. There has never been any question raised on that point.
By Senator EDMUNDS:
than before?-A. More of them have taken out permits to touch and trade, but very few have used them. Perhaps there may have been half a dozen vessels that have been in, either going to or coming from the Grand Banks; I think the number will not exceed that, and probably will fall short of it.
RETAIL AND WHOLESALE PRICES OF FISH.
I have some statistics in relation to the retail and wholesale prices of fish.
The Witness. I took pains to write to New Orleans, to Chicago, Milwaukee, New York, and Philadelphia, and saw some parties from Concord, N. H., and some fresh fish dealers of Boston who were here in regard to these prices. Generally we know here what the wholesale price of fish is in New York. The prices thus asked for and given were for December in 1872 and 1873, and up to 1885, so as to include the years before and after the treaty:
Q. Have you the prices for every month in the year, or only December?--A. I got only for December. It is a very difficult matter to get at these prices, and I had a good deal of trouble to get them.
Q. You have the prices for the same months in all the years for purposes of comparison?-A. Yes, sir. I thought December was perhaps as nearly a representative month as any.
In Boston fresh cod sold in 1872 from 8 to 10 cents retail; No. 1 mackerel from 20 to 25 cents.
Q. Twenty to 25 cents apiece?—A. Yes, sir; but the other item was 8 to 10 cents a pound.
In 1885 I found the prices the same as they were in 1872 and 1873.
Q. Do you mean salt mackerel or fresh?-A. I mean salt mackerel.
In 1878 cod sold at from 5 to 6 cents a pound and mackerel 15 cents. I will state that in that year the quality of the mackerel was exceedingly poor, and that accounts for the low price.
In 1885 cod retailed at 5 to 6 cents a pound, and mackerel were 18 cents.
In Concord, N. H., in 1883 and 1884 cod sold at 10 cents, as also in 1885; mackerel sold in those three years at 20 to 22 cents.
Q. Every time you speak of the price of mackerel do you mean by the piece?-A. Some were returned by the piece and some by the pound; but most of them by the piece.
Senator EDMUNDS. Then when you speak of the price of mackerel hereafter and mean to speak of the price per pound say so, and then we will understand when you give the price of mackerel only that you mean the price by the piece.
The WITNESS. In Milwaukee in 1873 and in 1878 cod sold for 8 cents a pound and mackerel at 20 to 25 cents each.
In 1885 the prices were precisely the same-8 cents for cod and 20 to 25 for mackerel.
In Chicago in 1873 cod sold at 10 to 12 cents a pound, and mackerel 20 cents each.
In New Orleans in 1872 cod sold for 12 cents a pound and mackerel at 23 cents
Q. How much will No. 1 salt mackerel ordinarily weigh?—A. A good mackerel ought to weigh a pound and a quarter.
Q. That would be the average in half a barrel?-A. They ought to weigh that. In 1878 in New Orleans the price of cod was 10 cents a pound and mackerel 171.
In 1879 and 1885 the price of cod was 10 cents a pound and mackerel 20 cents a pound.
The average during the treaty for No. 1 mackerel was $16.01 per barrel.
By Senator FRYE: Q. Less than the average during the treaty?-A. Yes. It was $16.01 during the treaty, and was $12.84} before and after the treaty.
During the present season, to show how this thing operates, our vessels have been to Boston with fresh cod, and could not obtain 25 cents a hundred pounds for them.
Q. Fresh cod in good condition?-A. Fresh cod in good condition. At the same time they were retailing for 8 to 10 cents a pound. The truth is that they have all over the country been kept up at the high prices that were established during the
Q. You mean the retail prices?-A. Yes.
It may be that some of the gentlemen present can give you better than I can the average prices for codfish in Boston, but according to the best information I have, I judge they have not been over $2 a quintal, that is, 112 pounds.
Q. That is the wholesale price?--A. That is the wholesale price during that time. I had a minute somewhere showing what the wholesale price was in Philadelphia during this time; but the wholesale price was not half these last three years in Philadelphia what it was from 1873 up to 1884, and the retail price is unchanged, or is a trifle lower.
EFFECT OF DUTY ON THE CONSUMER.
By Senator FRYE: Q. Then your idea is that the duty has nothing to do with the consumer?-A. Nothing at all. The fisherman can not realize the cost of his catch, while the consumer has to pay these large prices. Of course that tends to destroy consumption and operates to cut it off largely.
By Senator EDMUNDS: Q. Your conclusion is, then, from your information and observation in this business—and your opportunities certainly have been very good--that the provisions of the treaty of 1870 and 1871 did not operate at all to the actual advantage of the people who ate the fish?-A. No, sir; I think that is fully demonstrated.
Q. And that it operated to the disadvantage of the men who fitted out fishing vessels and the men who sailed in them?-A. Yes, sir. The profit is really reaped by the middlemen, by the dealers. It is for their advantage, undoubtedly, to have free fish; they invest a good deal less money and get larger profits.
THE COST OF CANADIAN OUTFITS, ETC. By Senator Frye: Q. You have investigated somewhat the cost of outfits, and of supplying vessels, and generally the advantages the Canadian has over us?—A. I have a little statement here that I took from a Canadian captain who happened in here with a load of salt fish last winter; and that will perhaps give you as good an idea in reference to that as I could give you in any other way.
By Senator EDMUNDS:
Q. Dry, or pickled?—A. Dry fish, exported in bond. They were bonded here and exported, because they could get them so much cheaper than they could get our tish, although the fish were rather inferior to ours in quality. In this statement I do not give the name of the vessel, because I thought if I gave the name of the master and vessel it might annoy the captain when he reached home, for of course the statement I make would be known, and consequently I thought it prudent not to state the name of the vessel.
The vessel belonged to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, and was of 79 tons burden. She made two trips to the Banks in the season of 1885, and returned with 2,400 quintals of codfish. The American schooner Benjamin F. Rich, of Provincetown, of 65 tons, owing to the greater distance from the fishing grounds, made one trip the same season, and brought into port 1,600 quintals of cod fish.
The cost of the British vessel prepared for fishing, was $4,000, or $50.63 per ton. The cost of the American schooner-17 tons less than the other, prepared for fishing-was $6,500, or $100 per ton. The outfits of the former, salt, bait, provisions, and fishing gear, together with wages paid the crew, amounted to between $1,900 and $2,000. The same items cost the American vessel $3,025. The wages paid the British crew were $75 to $82 per man. Those paid the American crew were from $125 to $190 per man.
Q. That is for the whole season?-A. Yes, sir; the season is one voyage with us. If our vessels are gone but two months it makes no difference, they get the same pay.
Q. The British vessel made two trips to the Banks?-A. Yes, sir.
The Canadian crew were required to prepare the vessel for sea, to receive and stow cargo, and to discharge her, and wash and stack or store the fish on her return to port. The American fishermen did not perform this service. The crew on the former vessel were obliged to wait for their pay until the fish were sold and money for them received, whereas the latter, the American crew, were promptly paid and discharged on arrival in port.
The curing, drying, and handling of the Canadian fish was done by women and girls. who received 6 cents an hour and 25 cents by the day. The curing, drying, ana nandling of the American fish was done by men, who received from 20 to 25 cents per hour, and that is always so.
WAGES, HOW PAID.
Q. When these men from this port on the fishing vessels are paid, are they generally paid in cash?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. They do not have to run up what is called a store account?-A. No, sir.
Senator EDMUNDS. From my experience in Canada--and by “Canada” I mean the whole of that eastern region—I understand, in general, that nine-tenths of all these British fishermen hardly ever see a dollar of their wages in cash; that they have a store account, just as is customary with some operative establishments, where goods are sold at very high prices, and the operative comes out at the end of the year with nothing due him. The consequence is that the outfitter has a lien on the fisherman all the time, and the amount of profit that is made by that Canadian outfitter and vessel owner is enormously greater for that reason, and the actual wages of the fishermen are very much less in proportion than the figures you give, because for every $75 that they earn they get not more than perhaps half of that amount in real value in goods, whereas our men, being paid in cash, can buy, like everybody else, at the lowest cash rate.
The WITNESs. Our men are generally paid in cash. This vessel I spoke of, the Pearl Nelson, arrived one day and the men were paid off the next, and that is the custom. Your statement confirms precisely what this captain told me, that they were obliged to take a considerable portion of their wages in stores. It is to the interest of the vessel owners for the men to go on shares, but it is found impracticable to get them to do so. They usually carry one or two sharesmen, and sometimes others of the crew will go on part shares. But the men here generally have families, and they don't want to take the risk. They prefer a fixed sum, so that they will know how to make their calculations, and so that when there is a loss that loss will fall upon the owners, as it has the last few years.
SUBSEQUENT CURING OF FISH BROUGHT IN FROZEN.
By Senator Frye: Q. I want to call your attention to this fresh-fish business.-A. It is a very serious matter in connection with the fisheries.
Q. Their admission free of duty?-A. Yes, sir; there is a very large amount brought in.
Q. You remember the language of the tariff act, “Fish, fresh for immediate consumption?"-A. Yes, sir.
Q. Under that, your experience shows, does it not, that all fish come in in a frozen condition?-A. Yes, sir. That has not come directly within my jurisdiction, because we do not have entries of that sort. But I know, from the general business, and our own reports, too, that that is the fact.
Q. From your experience in the custom-house, is there the slightest difficulty in bringing in a cargo of fresh halibut, for instance, in a frozen condition and transporting them to Boston, New York, or anywhere else, and subsequently curing them?-A. None at all; there is nothing to hinder it. The only question to settle at the custom-house is whether that fish has not been salted or cured in some way. If it is fresh, that is all we have to consider.
By Senator EDMUNDS: Q. Suppose I come to-day with 50 tons of frozen salmon into this port and want to make a regular entry, what would you do?-A. Under the ruling of the Department and precedents, I should be obliged to enter them free.
Q. You would consider that they were for immediate consumption?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. Suppose, further, that, having made my entry and paid my duty, I take my fish ashore, put them into ice houses, and come back and say to you, “Now, Mr. Gifford, I have got clear of you; 'immediate consumption' to me means that I am going to carry that stock of fish to supply the shoresmen here just as long as I can keep them frozen; the last one probably will not be eaten for six months;" what would you do then?-A. It would be beyond my jurisdiction. Q. Although I told you that I intended to do so?—A. Yes, sir.
By Senator Frye: Q. Take that same cargo, and is there any difficulty in transporting it to any point in the country under the present system of refrigerator cars?-A. Oh, no.
Q. Is there any difficulty in keeping them for months?-A. No, sir; they are just as much preserved as though they had been salted.
By Senator EDMUNDS: Q. Practically, I understand you to mean, then—it is obvious enough-that the words in the law, "for immediate consumption,” as to fresh fish do not amount to anything at all?—A. Not to anything at all for fish that come fresh.
By Senator Frye: Q. Has not this modern process of freezing fish and transporting them over the country in refrigerator cars immensely increased the consumption of fresh fish?— A. Oh, yes.
Q. What effect has that had upon the consumption of salt fish?--A. It has decreased it very much. For the past three years they have been running fish through to Chicago, both dried and fresh. They used to have a pretty large market in Chicago for our fish, but in the last three years that market has been principally supplied by the Canadian fish, run right through.
GRAY AND WHITE HALIBUT.
Q. Is it a fact that the gray halibut is the halibut that is smoked?—A. Yes, sir. Q. And the white is marketed fresh?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. Is it also true that the same cargo of halibut will have portions that will be gray and ought to be smoked and other portions white that ought to be marketed fresh?-A. Yes, sir.
Q: Then would not the result be that part of an ordinary cargo ought to be sold as fresh and part as smoked?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. What means would you, as a custom-house officer, have of knowing that half of a cargo of halibut was subsequently smoked and half of it was sold fresh?--A. Even if I did I don't see how I could interfere. The question is whether, when the entry is made, the cargo comes within the terms of the law admitting it free, and if it does that is as far as I can go with it.
Q. Under the decision of the Treasury Department in the case at Gloucester, you understand that it is fresh fish?-A. Yes, sir.
TARIFF ON BOTH SALT AND FRESH FISH.
Now, in relation to the tariff, I don't know of any good reason why we should not have a tariff on fresh tish as well as salt. The Canadians have a tariff on all fresh tish that come into their country, just as they have on salt fish. Their tariff is a cent a pound, and it is only a fair tariff as compared with the duty on other products. Three dollars and fifty cents would only be an ordinary and fair price for cod. That amounts, I think, to only about 13 per cent.
Q. That is “a tariff revenue only?" —A. A tariff for revenue only; that would perhaps be as high a duty as would be judicious to place upon it.
INSHORE FISHING AND OTHER CANADIAN PRIVILEGES.
Q. Do you know anything that our fishermen desire of Canada?-A. No, sir. They have only just one thing that is of any sort of value to us, and you have heard what that is—the privilege of going in there and of perhaps purchasing some little thing that they may be out of, as a matter of convenience; but that is a trivial matter. So far as transportation is concerned, I think we have in some cases availed ourselves of the privilege of transporting home the catch of mackerel.
Q. Through Canada?-A. Yes; to Boston. But, so far as the inshore fishery is concerned, it is not worth any contention. You will find that when Mr. Johnston was Canadian secretary of marine he stated that the shore fishermen who are pursuing this inshore fishery, as a class of men, are constantly poor and are really paupers; their Government is continually compelled to help them. He says they spend their lives in mending old nets and dogging around the shores without accomplishing anything
Q. Do you know the fact that it is shown by the statistics that during the twelve years of the treaty the average number of our vessels going within the 3-mile limit was 93} a year?-A. I have not examined that.
Q. Do you know that the statistics show that the actual cost of all the mackerel taken within the 3-mile shore line was double the price obtained for them?—A. I should judge it would be, from what experience we have had in the ports on the cape here; I should think it would cost all of that.
AVERAGE PAY OF FISHERMEN.
Q. It strikes me that you told me at Washington--can you tell me now?-about the average pay that fishermen all through this section get for a year's tishing?--A. No. I think likely it was Mr. Babson gave you that.
By Senator EDMUNDS: Q. Has any vessel from this district been interfered with?-A. I think Captain Kemp's is the only case. In fact, they have had very little chance to interfere with our vessels, because they have been kept away. This inshore fishery, you perfectly understand, is of advantage to the mackerel catchers only, and the mackerel interest is the smaller interest of the two. So that with our fishermen that privilege is perfectly valueless. We have never sent a vessel to fish inshore. During the treaty we had on an average about 10 codfish vessels that fished those British waters, but just out of sight of land.
Q. Mackerel vessels go from this port, do they not?—A. We have 18 mackerel vessels; 9 of them, on account of the scarcity of mackerel on our own coast this year, have gone there, and one of them made a full trip, but only one. We have averaged about 1 vessel a year.
TESTIMONY OF OTIS M. KNOWLES.
After the adjournment of the subcommittee at Provincetown on October 1, 1886, Otis M. Knowles, agent of the Union Fish Company, located at Provincetown, made the following statement, not under oath, which was ordered to be embodied in the testimony:
That his company is the owner of several mackerel fishermen; that during all the time of their ownership none of them have ever taken a mackerel within the 3-mile shore line of Canada; that in 1884 the fishing schooner Emma P. Curtis, Captain Rich, commanding, made a nine weeks' trip in the Bay of St. Lawrence, fishing outside the 3-mile shore line, and caught 125 barrels of mackerel, on which she stocked $916.79; that during the same time and the same length of time the schooner Alice captured on the American shore 956 barrels, on which she stocked $6,000; that also during the same time and the same length of time the schooner Sloweủ Sherman captured 700 barrels on the American shore, stocking $5,000.