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Senator EDMUNDS. You can make any statement you desire.
The WITNESS. I would like to state that our vessels that have pursued our inshore or Georges fishing have produced more fish than usual, and not one of those vessels has bought any fresh bait whatever in the Provinces; all their bait has been taken upon our own American coast.
DIMINUTION OF FISH SUPPLY. Q. I wish you would state, as far as you know or understand it, whether it is the experience or opinion of fishermen that the quantity of fish on Georges Banks has increased or diminished. I do not mean one year rather than another, but taking it for, say, twenty years. Has the supply kept up, or has the continual catching decreased the stock on hand? I know the number varies from year to year more or less, but take it for a long period of years together.-A. I think during the last fifteen or twenty years they have diminished.
Q. It takes longer to make a fare?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. Is the same true of the Grand Bank and Western Bank?-A. I think not as to the Western Bank; it might be, but the Grand Bank is what we call inexhaustible. It seems to be considered that that is what we shall have to rely upon in future for our codfish.
MACKEREL FISHERY IN BRITISH WATERS FOR 1885. Senator FRYE. I want to ask Mr. Steele a question about the mackerel fishery of last year in the British waters, and as to where the fish were found in those waters.
The WITNESS. During only a small part of the season, while the American fleet has been in the North Bay, or waters off the provincial shore, have mackerel been found in any abundance, but fortunately when found were 10 to 20 miles from shore. Nearly all the past season the native shore fishermen have been unable to take but very few mackerel, the fish keeping wide out from shore, beyond the reach of their small boats. The total catch this year by the provincial fishermen will be found to be one of the smallest for many years, so much so that during the middle of the season at most of the fishing stations they gave up the catch entirely, but later on, as prices advanced, they were stimulated to make further exertions, because for a short time mackerel drew in near the shore, saving them from what would have been a very disastrous season. These facts are well known by all interested in the business, and can easily be proven if necessary.
This season up to the present time adds still another year to the many past showing that the inshore fisheries of the Provinces are of no value to American fishermen.
QUANTITY OF MACKEREL TAKEN IN THE PAST FIVE YEARS.
Senator Frye. State as to the amount of fish taken the past five years.
These figures show that only about 4 per cent of the aggregate catch were caught in provincial waters in the last tive years, during which time American fishermen had the privilege to fish anywhere.
By Senator FRYE: Q. You stated that you were president of an insurance company?-A. Yes, sir. Q. Are you president of a mutual insurance company here?-A. Yes, sir. Q. The bulk of your insurance is of what nature?-Å. On fishing vessels. Q. Stock or mutual company?-A. Mutual.
Q. What is the average cost of insurance for those fishing vessels annually?-A. I should say annually about 9 to 10 per cent.
Q. Nine to 10 per cent of the full value of the vessel?—A. Weil, yes, as valued by the directors.
Q. About what are your annual losses here in fishing vessels?–A. The losses to our Gloucester Mutual, I should think, would average somewhere in the vicinity of about 7 or 8 per cent.
ANNUAL LOSSES OF VESSELS AND MEN FROM THE GLOUCESTER FLEET.
Q. How many fishing vessels on the average are lost here every year ?-A. I should say 10 to 15.
Q. How many of the men are lost annually?-A. From all causes 100 to 150.
COMPARATIVE COST OF UNITED STATES AND CANADIAN VESSELS.
Q. Will you give a statement showing the comparative cost of a fishing vessel as between the United States and Canada?-A. A United States fisherman, a hundredton schooner, would cost about $80 per ton. A Nova Scotia vessel, I should say, would cost about $10 a ton.
Interest on the $8,000 capital invested in the United States vessel, which I shouid call a fair average for vessels, would be $180.
Insurance on the same, at 10 per cent, would be about, I should say, $800.
Deterioration marked off from our new vessels would be considered generally about 15 per cent; the percentage is larger on fishing vessels than on the coasting vessels; they depreciate and deteriorate very rapidly. That I should call about 15 per cent; 15 per cent of $8,000 would be $1,200.
Taxes on the capital of an $8,000 vessel here in Gloucester at about' 2 per cent, what I call city taxes, amount to about $160. The outfits would be about $1,800 on an average.
I would state here that our vessel outfits are all the way from $700 to $2,500, and average about $1,800. Two per cent of that would be $36.
Duties, direct and indirect, upon vessels, outfit, clothing, and provisions, I should say, about 30 per cent. Fisherinen all wear woolen clothes, and it is a pretty heavy
Deterioration only about, I should say, 10 per cent. I don't think those vessels, as a general thing, deteriorate so much as ours, on account of the lateness of the season when they start, and they do not fish so late in the year. They might fish from five to seven months, where we take from ten to twelve. So that the deterioration is more rapid on our vessels.
Duties, indirect and direct, as above, upon English vessels, none, with the exception of spirits.
Q. Besides that, do they pay a bounty to their fishermen ?-A. Yes, sir. I may be mistaken, but I think in round numbers it amounts to some $2,000,000. I forget the amount, but I know it is a large amount.
EFFECT OF TREATY OF 1854.
Q. During the pendency of the treaty of 1854 what effect did it have upon the American fishery fleet?-A. We did not feel the effect of that reciprocity as much as we did of the recent treaty, first, on account of there not being the vessels in the business at the commencement of that treaty; and then, as the Senator has just suggested, we had a bounty, which expired, if I remember, in 1866, of nearly half a million dollars paid to the fishing interests, of which Gloucester received probably something like $130,000 to $150,000.
Then, if you will remember, in the year 1866–I want to say a little in regard to the valuation of the inshore fishery—they charged us 50 cents per ton as license for the privilege of fishing within the 3 miles, Then we had some three hundred and
odd licenses. In 1868 the license was carried up to $1 a ton. Then the number of licenses was reduced, and came down to 150 sail that availed themselves of that privilege. In 1869, when the license went up to $2 a ton, it was almost prohibitory. There were only about 13 vessels took that license.
CANADIAN LICENSES TO FISH.
Q. That was the Canadian license for fishing in their waters?-A. Yes. I only state this to show the little value we put upon that inshore fishing in those three or four years up to 1870, with the $2 prohibitory license. They would not pay that amount for that privilege; they didn't think it worth it. The number of licenses had dwindled down from 300 to 13.
EFFECT OF THE TREATY OF 1854.
As far as the treaty was concerned we did not feel the disadvantages at first, because at first we had a bounty, as I say, and then the English fleet was very small indeed. But they were afterwards stimulated.
TREATY OF 1870–71.
Q. Now come to the other treaty.-A. After the other treaty of 1871 of course they increased rapidly. They are almost fourfold, I might say, while we have really diminished.
By Senator SAULSBURY: Q. Have you diminished in tonnage as well as the number of vessels?—A. I should think we have diminished more in number than in tonnage, because our vessels have been built on a larger scale; but of course I have not those statistics and have only general knowledge.
By Senator FRYE: Q. Was your actual increase in tonnage the last six or eight years at all in proportion to the increase in the demand for fish product?-A. No, sir.
Q. Suppose you had supplied the American market the last ten years, how much larger would the fleet be than it is to-day?-A. I should think it would be one-third larver. I think we have the facilities on our coast and in our harbors to take all the fish that the people of the United States want, even if our population amounted to 100,000,000, if we could only have the demand for the catch.
GRAND BANKS INEXHAUSTIBLE.
Q. In your judgment would the price of fish he increased to the consumer?-A. I think not. It is well said that when the New England fishermen get on to any bank it is only a question of time when they will clean up that bank of fish, except one bank;
as I said before, the Grand Bank seems inexhaustible.
Q. What, in your judgment, has been the effect of allowing fresh fish to come in free for general market under this clause of the tariff, “Fishi
, fresh, for immediate consumption?”-A. I think it has been a detriment to us. I think they ought not to come in free. I think the fresh-lish business is going to be the largest part of the business within twenty years. What with the refrigerator storehouses and cars taking them all over the country as they do, I think the time is coming when fresh tish will take precedence of salt fish, because, as a general thing, people like to eat fresh fish in the room of salt if they can get them in good order.
FRESH HALIBUT ON ICE.
Q. We saw this morning a cargo of halibut being landed at your wharves; how long had those halibut probably been on that vessel?-A. Probably a fortnight or three weeks.
Q. Were they in good condition as they were landed?—A. I should say that they were; yes.
Q. And they had been kept in ice?-A. Yes, sir.
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Q. When they arrive in New York and Boston, what is done with them?-A. They are distributed all over the country to the consumers.
Q. In refrigerator cars?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. For how long may those fish be kept in good condition?-A. An indefinite period, I should say; as long as they can be kept frozen, whether one year, or two, or three.
By Senator EDMUNDS: Q. They are frozen at New York and Boston?-A. Yes, sir; they have a refrigerating storehouse in Boston where they are frozen, and remain, I think, an indefinite period.
By Senator FRYE: Q. Suppose this cargo of halibut which was being landed here this morning should be boxed and sent to New York, is there anything to prevent the smoking of all those halibut?-A. No, sir.
Q. Is there any way in which your collector here could follow those halibut and see that they were not cured?-A. I think not.
Q. So that those fresh fish which are brought in frozen may, without any difficulty at all, be transported elsewhere and cured?-A. Yes, sir.
Q. How long have the various methods of freezing fish and having refrigerators on cars and on fishing vessels been in existence?-A. For ten or fifteen years in connection with fresh halibut, I should think.
By Senator SAULSBURY: Q. Do you know whether, as a matter of fact, those fish that are sent to New York and Boston in ice are subsequently smoked and put on the market as dried and salt fish?—A. I could not say.
By Senator Frye: Q. I suppose, as a matter of fact, many of these halibut that come in fresh—the gray halibut or gray parts of halibut are subsequently smoked?-A. Yes, sir. I will say that these halibut that come in here are smoked right here, and of course it could be done other places as well, if they wished.
By Senator EDMUNDS: Q. Why are they smoked here?-A. Because they make a business of smoking them here.
Q. Out of that cargo of, say, 24,000 or 25,000 pounds, how many fish would be smoked? Would it depend on the market in New York?-A. I think it depends on the market in New York and Boston. When they run low, as a general thing, they go to the cutters and are cut up and made smoked halibut of.
Q. So that these people whom we saw have these halibut this morning, if they found that they could not get a good profit in New York and Boston, would cut them up?-A. Yes, sir. They have a regular agreement with the cutters to take so many all the time when they are not marketable, and that depends on the condition of the fish,
SMOKING ESTABLISHMENTS AT GLOUCESTER.
Q. If I understand you, that smoking establishment is here at Gloucester.-A. There are some two or three establishments here.
Q. How extensive are those smoking works?-A. Quite extensive. They smoke millions of pounds every year. The vessels go out to Flemish Cap, two-thirds across the Atlantic, and the halibut they get are all salted and cut up on board the vessel; they then come here, and of course are only suitable for smoking. Senator Frye. They pay duty. Senator Edmunds. They come in American vessels.
By Senator FRYE: Q. If they came in Canadian vessels now they would not pay any duty.-A. No; they can be packed in ice, and also preserved by smoking.
DUTIES UPON ARTICLES ENTERING INTO THE CONSTRUCTION OF VESSELS.
I heard the Senator speak in regard to what duties we are paying. I think I can give you a little information in regard to the construction of our vessels.
Senator EDMUNDS. State it, if you wish to.
CABLES AND CORDAGE.
By Senator EDMUNDS: Q. Are the cables and cordage you use imported?—A. No, sir; they are manufactured in this country, but the tax I speak of is the tax on the raw material, what we call raw manila hemp, or manila grass, as it is sometimes called. There is no vessel sails that uses so many pounds as fishermen, on account of their 300 to 900 fathoms of 9-inch cable, which weighs a good many thousand pounds. In fitting out a vessel they will use 6,500 to 8,500 pounds of that manila, which is a very heavy tax.
Q. Do you know if that duty that is paid on the raw material were taken off the purchaser whether the cordage would cost any less? Is that clear to your mind?— A. Well, I don't know. Of course it is a question. Combinations are very strong in New York with the money power, and I think to-day manila is 2 or 3 cents higher than it costs to manufacture it on account of the ring. Whether they could sustain. that or not with the duty off I dont know. But really we are in the hands to-day of, say, four men, who control the whole importation of manila grass.
Q: You know the experience in taking off the duty from tea and coffee?—A. I don't think we should feel any benefit to take it off.
DUTY TAKEN OFF BY SHIPPING ACT.
By Senator FRYE: Q. Do you know, as a matter of fact, that the duty was all taken off to fishermen, in what was known as our shipping bill, at the last session of Congress?
The WITNESS. Was it?
Senator Frye. Yes; that is to say, under the law passed last winter a fishing vessel now has all the benefits which were given to our ships built for foreign trade.
The Witness. Do I understand you that there is no duty paid upon any manila we now use upon vessels?
Senator FRYE. I do not know whether it would include manila. A drawback is allowed.
The WITNESS. We have never had any drawback here.
Senator Frye. I know I had a provision put in the bill in the Senate which extended to fishermen all the privileges allowed to vessels built for the foreign trade, so that your vessels have the same privileges that are allowed to vessels engaged in foreign trade.
Senator EDMUNDS. Does that apply to the manila brought in for cordage?
Senator Edmunds. Undoubtedly, if he bought is cordage in London he would find he could not get it any cheaper.
ANCHORS AND CHAINS.
The WITNESS. If we wanted chains to-day for the vessel we would have to pay duty, but if the vessel should go into Halifax and buy them it would save the duty.
Senator EDMUNDS. How much would it save? The WITNESS. A cent or a cent and a half a pound; not over 2 cents; but a saving of 1 to 2 cents a pound on chains is quite an item. So it would be on anchors or any iron in the construction or running of a fishing vessel.
RUSSIAN BOLT ROPE. I would say now that there is a duty on Russia bolt rope of 3 cents a pound on the manufactured article, because we can't manufacture it in this country on account of not having the Russia tar, which makes it so supple and pliable; that quality is given to it by the tar that they use in Russia.
I heard some gentleman ask this morning about hooks. There is a duty of 45 per cent on hooks manufactured in a foreign country, and yet they won't allow you to import steel, from which hooks are made, without paying a duty of 60 per cent. I don't know why it is. Why should there be a duty of 45 per cent on the manufactured article, and 60 per cent on the raw material? We could compete in this country in the manufacture of fishhooks if we only had that raw material cheaper.