HOW CANADA PROTECTS HER FISHERIES
G. B. VANBLARICOM
Written for The Busy Man's Magazine
WHEN you enter the little store around the corner to buy a mackerel, a herring, or a halibut steak for your dinner, do you ever stop to think? Naturally you wonder what there is to think about if you have the necessary purchase price in your pocket, and the merchant has in stock the kind of fish you want.
Perhaps the value of Canada’s great fisheries has at some time or other attracted your attention, for any guide or hand-book will tell you that they are the most diversified and extensive in the world. In tabular form you are given statistical information that fish products of the Dominion amount to some thirty million dollars annually, that about one quarter of the people subsist on piscine diet, and that nearly one hundred thousand men are employed in this important industry etc. But there are many other thing« you can learn about the piscatorial wealth of Canada.
Are you aware that eight steel clad armed cruisers are constantly
engaged in patrolling Canadian waters guarding the fisheries ; that this protective' fleet is maintained at an annual outlay of a quarter million dollars and represents an investment of over three times that sum ; that the total expenditure on fisheries is a million dollars yearly, and that the fishery equipment in the Dominion is worth in the neighborhood of fifteen millions.
Will the fishery protection cruisers some day form the nucleus of a Canadian naval force? Ibis is a question frequently asked by those who think the time is rapidly approaching, if not alreadv at hand, when the loyal people of Great Britain’s brightest colony should provide an auxiliary to the great war fleet of the mistress of the seas—a spontaneous contribution bv the Dominicfn to the defensive equipment of the world’s mightiest empire. But that is another storv. The present is one on “How Canada Protects Her Fisheries?”
For this purpose the Canada, the Constance, the Curlew, the Petrel,
the Princess, the Vigilant, the Kestrel, and the Falcon, beside a number of smaller boats looking after the lobster fisheries, constitute the floating portion of the protective power not only from enemies without but foes within. Working in conjunction with the nautical patrol there are in different districts inspectors, overseers, and guardians, many of whom have Justice of the Peace powers, while the masters of the cruisers are also vested with full magisterial authority in so far as the provisions of the fisheries act are concerned. Illicit angling in Canadian waters is a costly pastime, the owners of poaching vessels being fined, their fishing gear and ships confiscated, and the proceeds forwarded to the Marine Department at Ottawa.
All the cruisers, with the exception of the Kestrel, are steel clad. The
largest, the Canada, 206 feet long,
and of 850 tons register, was built by Vickers, Sons & Maxim, at Barrow-on-Furness, England, in 1904. The second largest is the Vigilant. In length, 177 feet, and tonnage, 396, she was built in 1905 at the Poison Iron Works, Toronto. This company has also built three other cruisers of the service—tlie Curlew, the Constance, and the Petrel. The smallest defender i= the Falcon, which has a length of 70 feet, and next in size is the Constance, 115 feet long, and tonnage 185.
What waters do these vessels patrol, what is their armed equipment, their duties and territorial jurisdiction, and how are the provisions of the Fisheries Act carried out, are topics to which the average Canadian, not directly interested in piscatorial pursuits, has perhaps given little heed.
The Canada, the Constance, and the Petrel, patrol the deep sea wa-
ters from Cape Sable to Cape Breton, the Curlew is the sentinel on the Bay of Fundy, the Princess the marine constable on the St. Lawrence Gulf, the Vigilant the nautical watch-dog on Lake Erie, while
fishing craft are forbidden to come for the purpose of fishing. They are allowed to enter Canadian harbors for shelter, food and fuel, by first reporting at the nearest customs house. By paying so much
the Kestrel and the Falcon guard the fisheries of the vast Pacific.
W ithin the marine league, or as it is more familiarly known,* the three-mile limit, on the east and west Canadian coast lines, foreign
per ton to obtain a license, they are also permitted to enjoy the facilities of the ports of the Dominion for securing bait and ice. dressing fish, etc.
On the chain of lakes known as
the inland waters, fishing tugs from across the border are under no conditions supposed to come over the boundary line, which is midway between the north and south shores, for fishing purposes. Here a cruiser in keeping out poachers has to guard only the boundary line, but on the deep sea areas of the Atlantic and Pacific, the fleet has not only to protect the marine league, but also enforce the fishery laws and see that there are no violations of the act on the part of American fishing vessels or by Canadian and Newfoundland yawls. The implements of capture by Canadian and American fishermen must be looked after as well as the provisions regarding the "lose season for salmon, smelt, lobsters, and clams. The cruisers must see that no purse seines are used inside the three-mile limit, that no lobsters are taken in the close season, and that the regulation with respect to the legal length of the crustaceans is observed which, in some counties, is nine inches and in others ten.
Along the St. Croix, which is the boundary stream between New Brunswick and Maine, and empties into Passamaquoddy Bay, one of the northern arms of the Bay of Fundy, sardine herring abound. The divid-
ing line in the middle of the river must not be crossed. As fully eightv per cent, of the sardines can-
ned at Eastport, Maine, are caught in Canadian waters, it is evident that, if a seine could be used on this side by Uncle Sam’s fishermen,
the canneries would save the purchase price which last season was $6 a hogshead. Here, as in the
other parts of the Bay of Fundy, the Curlew is the naval minion of Canada’s interests.
Seeing that no illegal means are
employed in the different methods of catching fish also keeps the cruisers busy. Mackerel, which travel in shoals, are corralled bv means of purse seines, salmon by drift nets, while cod, haddock, hake and halibut are captured with lines or trawls, to which as many as 3,000 snood hooks baited with herring, are attached. These trawls are anchored to the bottom at one end and fastened at the other to moveable buoys. Sardines and large sea herring are taken by means of weirs ánd nets, and white fish, lake herring, pickerel and other fresh water members of the finny tribe are enmeshed in nets spread by fishing tugs. The festive
lobster is made a prey to the ap-
petite of man by traps ballasted with stone to hold them on bottom.
Of the numerous varieties of fish found in Canadian waters, salmon, the run of which varies greatly, often takes the lead in value, but the race for first place is a keen one with cod and lobsters close rivals. According to the last available official figures the kinds and value of fish taken is Canada were : Salmon, $8,989,942 ; lobsters, $3,906,998 ; cod, $3,421,400; herring, $2,303,485; whitefish, $1,051,161 ; mackerel, $958,223 ; Sardines, $878,372 ; haddock, $806,743 ; pickerel, $784,988 ; trout, $735-743-
There were lesser catches of halibut, hake, smelts, pollock, clams, pike, sturgeon, etc. In the inland lakes, particularly Lake Erie, herring is the principal fish and for it there is no close season but, in the fall months by means of nets ,the largest numbers are caught, the run in November last being phenomenal. The Vigilant is the aquatic policeman in Lake Erie with headquarters
at Port Stanley. No fishing tugs from the United States have any business across the boundary line for fishing purposes, and the bul-
wark at the back of the command “Thus far shalt thou come and no farther” is a speedy Canadian cruiser.
The cruisers have roving commissions, subject to orders of the Marine Department at Ottawa (which is regularly advised of their movements), with headquarters at certain ports. The fleet is under Rear-Admiral C. E. Kingsmill, the officer commanding the marine service of Canada, a Canadian who has spent practically all his life in the British N avy.
The headquarters and captains
Canada, Halifax, Captain C. T. Knowlton ; Curlew, St. John, Captain Wm. J. Milne; Petrel, Souris, P.E.I., Captain W. H. Kent; Constance, Quebec, Captain Alex. MacLeod ; Princess, Gaspe, Quebec, Captain Wm. Wakeham; Vigilant, Port Stanley, Captain Paul C. Robinson; Kestrel, Vancouver, Cap-
tain Holmes Newcomb; Falcon, Vancouver, Captain A. O. Copp.
The more recently built cruisers are fitted with twin screws and triple expansion engines. The Canada has a speed of 17 knots an hour, and the Vigilant 15. The others are not quite as fast, but all the sentinels of Canada’s fisheries are swift enough to run down any troublesome tug or vessel. Each protector flies the pennant at the main, indicating that her captain has a commission as a fishery officer.
Should any foreign fishing tug or ship trespass, a signal to halt—three blasts of the whistle—is given. If this is not obeyed or the offender attempts to escape, the captain, if he has reason to believe that she has been poaching, instructs the gunner to fire across the bow of the intruder. Should the poacher not stop then, but continue to lead the pursuer a merry chase, an exploding shell, if extreme measures are deemed advisable, would be projected into her hull. But that is a final resort, and, before being put into effect, a captain must be absolutely satisfied and able to prove beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the fugitive has been guilty of fishing in Canadian waters. The average city policeman is furnished with á revolver, yet a constable of good judgment never makes use of the weapon unless in imminent danger of losing his own life and frequently not then, for he may be arraigned on the charge of murder or manslaughter. In the same manner the captain of a cruiser would think long and seriously before shattering an interloning fishing vessel with an exploding shell, for one rash or hotheaded act might precipitate grave international complications and, in an Admiralty Court incontestable evidence would have to be presented that a vessel had been poaching or had deliberately disobeyed all signals and warnings. If a poacher once gets in her own waters either by crossing the boundary line or the
three-mile limit she cannot be pursued farther.
Owing to the splendid patrol work of the protective service the fishery regulations are on the whole not violated to any great extent except off British Columbia. Now and then an offending boat is caught and confiscated and her nets or seines seized and sold. At times intruders have been fired upon for not halting when a signal was given, but shots from the quick-firing guns have not been aimed directly at the fugitive ship but discharged across her bow. This generally brings any transgressor to bay, although a few have been known, like a decamping burglar, to persist in their flight and effect an escape.
In the long stretch of Pacific wa-
ters the Falcon and the Kestrel cannot adequately cover the immense territory teeming with halibut and cod. It is rumored that another cruiser may be built in the near future and placed in commission by the Marine Department to assist in patrolling the 7,000 miles of western coast line. So flagrant has been the poaching of United States fishermen within the three mile limit around
Queen Charlotte Islands that the Vancouver Board of Trade recently forwarded a protest to Sir Wilfrid Laurier in which it was stated that ten large steamers and forty schooners were constantly fishing in Canadian waters, and the Federal Government is urged to enforce Canadian sovereignty over the Hecate Straits between the islands and the main land.
A treaty made last year between Great Britain and the United States provides that international waters shall be under a commission which will make all regulations with respect to the fisheries, and the re-establishment of the location of that portion of the international boundary passing through the great lakes. The appointments on the British side will belong exclusively to Canada.
The armament of the Canadian cruisers, while naturally not of the formidable character of the battery of a Dreadnought, an Indomitable or an Invincible, is, nevertheless, sufficient for the work in which they are engaged. The Canada has a crew of 57 men, and the next largest, the Vigilant, 33, while the others carry a smaller number. The Canada and the Vigilant are each equipped with four Vickers-Maxim automatic quick-firing guns of 1.45 bore. Two are set at the fore and two at the after end. Each gun has a firing capacity of 300, one and one quarter pound explosive shells a minute, with a range of 3,000 yards and of sufficient force and velocity to penetrate two inches of steel at a distance of 1,000 yards. Set on a swivel a gun can be instantly trained in any desired direction. Single shots may be fired, or by moving a small lever shells may be expelled automatically at the rate of five per second. When on patrol duty an officer of a cruiser is always on the bridge, with a powerful marine glass in hand, looking out for poaching vessels.
In addition to her guns each
cruiser is provided with about twenty Ross rifles and an equal number of Colt’s revolvers. The smaller arms are intended for boarding purposes, should the crew of an intruding ship, which has been disabled or captured, offer resistance to either the seizure of herself or her fishing gear. Every man on board receives instructions in firing and is thoroughly trained in target practice which is held three times a week. They are also put through the manual and other exercises, including instruction in signalling, and become proficient in gunnery and markmanship.
The Canada has begun the training of naval cadets and in time this work may become as popular and widely known as the training of military cadets at the R.M.C., Kingston.
The first cadet accepted by the Canada was John A. Barron, a son of His Honor Judge Barron, Stratford, Ont. In the winter of 1905 the Canada, under the direction of her commander, C. T. Knowlton, sailed among the West India Islands as a training ship. Her crew of 57 men received instruction in gunnery, signalling and other exercises. The cruiser visited nearly all the harbors and the experience for the men
was a valuable one. Men have to be constantly trained for service on a cruiser. Several leave at the end of each season and the work of instruction has to be begun anew. They are not absolutely bound for any stipulated period and naturally, when they grow restless or strike something more attractive than the duties on a fishery protection vessel, they seek a release of their commission which is generally granted by the captain. Some do not care to stay with the ship over winter and, as a result, when spring arrives, the majority are new to the work, but they soon get into shape and take an interest in the various exercises. In Halifax, where the Canada is wintering, the members of the crew are put through regular training at the barracks in the Garrison City.
The cruisers patrol the waters and protect the boundary lines from the opening of navigation until the frost king reigns in the fall and stills the water along the shore in his icy grasp, then they go into winter quarters.
It is said that at some points there are spies or allies of American fishermen, who watch the movements of the cruisers and send despatches to owners of American fishing vessels as to what course a protector
takes when she sets sail. This is more particularly practised with the patrol service on Lake Erie, but, sometimes a cruiser, while heading from port in a certain direction, will as soon as the shore line disappears, double on her tracks, and occasionally there are surprises in store for too venturesome or avaricious fishing tugs. On the chain of inland waters only the boundary line on Lake Erie is protected. This is because the Erie fisheries are the most prolific in herring, pickerel, a*nd whitefish, and the richest angling is on the Canadian side. As there are many large cities on the south shore like Erie, Cleveland, Toledo and Sandusky, the temptation is stronger to set out from these populous centres than it is in the smaller and more scattered towns on the other and less wealthy lakes. It may be mentioned that the Ontario Government also owns several steamers as well as a number of gasolene launches for protective purposes. The Provincial Administration looks after all violations of the fishing laws by means of its patrol boats (which do not, of course, carry
arms), by its game and fisherywardens, and their deputies, and by overseers appointed in all parts of the country.
Generally speaking, the Dominion Government makes the fishery laws and regulations as to the close seasons, defines the implements of capture, and the size of the meshes, and protects the boundary lines, while the various provincial governments possess the right to issue licenses, appoint wardens, and overseers and collect the revenue. They also see that the conditions of the law are observed and that no fish are caught except by hook and line without a license.
With reference to the deep sea fisheries on the east and west coasts of Canada, it may be mentioned that the Federal Administration issues all licenses and receives the revenue therefrom. In return it bears the cost of maintaining the patrol service and enforcing the regulations.
And this, in brief, is the story of “How Canada Protects Her Fsher-