Perhaps with all the richness of nature’s resources, there are none that yield so large a profit on the capital expended as do the harvests of the sea. Great as have been the riches gathered from golden sands, those from the sea have been still greater. The waters of British North America are unrivalled in the world, not only as to the quality, but also as regards the extent of their fisheries. This is owing chiefly to two reasons : First, there is the great extent of coastal waters, both on the Atlantic and Pacific, besides the vast inland lakes, thus affording ample room for the fish, and scope for the plying of this industry. The coast line of the Maritime Provinces, from Grand Manan, in New Brunswick, to the Straits of Belle Isle, represents a distance of about five thousand six hundred miles. This is exclusive of the coast line of Newfoundland, which is also very great, and everywhere abounds in fisheries. The coastal waters of British Columbia are even greater than those of the Atlantic, representing a distance of seven thousand one hundred and eighty miles, something more than double the coast line of the United Kingdom. It is also exclusive of minor indentations. The Canadian portion of the Great Lakes are estimated at seventy-two thousand square miles, and with Canada’s other inland waters, constitute a valuable fishery in themselves. Added to these must be the waters of the Hudson Bay, the value of which, from this stand-point, is said to be very great. When one considers this great area of productive waters, it in part explains the value of this industry, but only in part.
Another, and, perhaps, the chief reason for Canada’s pre-eminence in this great wealth of the sea, is her peculiarly favorable position in relation to northern ocean currents, making her coastal waters natural feeding grounds of the very first order, and rendering her fish fine and well flavored, as well as inexhaustible as to supply.
The following is a summary of the report of the fisheries for 1903, the latest at this time of writing. No less than 87,000 men were in that season earning their livelihood by exploiting our waters, using 5,506,760 fathoms of nets and other fishing gear, representing a capital of $12,000,000. Nearly twelve hundred schooners and tugs, manned by 9,200 sailors, as well as 77,800 other fishermen, using over 38,000 boats, found occupation in this industry. The lobster plant alone is estimated at $1,287,656 comprisng 723 canneries, dispersed on the seaboard of the Maritime Provinces. No less than 13,563 persons found employment in this branch of the fishing industry, using over 1,360,000 traps. The salmon preserving industry of British Columbia, comprising 69 canneries and representing a capital of $1,380,000, gives employment to 18,977 hands. The total value of the catch of fish in Canada was $21,959,433.