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History of Inverness County, Nova Scotia
Chapter IX - Our Fisheries


The fishing grounds of Inverness County are excelled nowhere. They extend from end to end of the County. Owing to the bold, uneven, character of the coast, and the absence of good harbors, the prosecution of our fisheries is laborious and difficult. The industry is carried on chiefly by longshore-men with small sized boats. Many of the men who engage in these fisheries are, also, farmers, who must divide the working season between the two callings. The mining and other industrial activities of the last two decades have drawn away from the farms large numbers of our young men. The comparatively few hands who are now left on the farms cannot devote much time to fishing. On this ice-frequented side of Cape Breton Island the fishing season is not longer than four months.

Even under such unfavorable circumstances, the spoils of the sea constitute a large part of the wealth of this county. We take the following facts and figures from the Dominion Statistics of 1917. We give only the different kinds of fish, and the value of what was marketed that year, leaving out of calculation what was used for home consumption:

"Alewives, $1,370; Cod, $196,775; Smoked fillets, $22,776; Fish oils, $4,557; Haddock, $154,814; Hake and Fillets, $29,403; Halibut, $7,470; Herring $34,914; Lobsters $107,278; Mackerel, $176,610; Oysters, $2,760; Salmon, $22,212; Pollock, $15,000; Smelts, $3,100; Soles, $1,180; Squid $4,800; Total value $784,936." That is quite a side of fish for one county, but it could be very much enlarged.

Under authority of "An Act to encourage the development of the Sea Fisheries and the building of fishing vessels," the sum of $160,000, is paid annually by the federal government to the fishermen of the Eastern Maritime Provinces.

For the year 1917 payment was made on the following basis:

To owners of vessels entitled to bounty; $1. per regtd. ton:
Payment to owner of any one vessel not to exceed $80:
To vessel fishermen entitled to bounty, $6.30 each:
To owners of boats measuring not less than 13 it. keel, $1. per boat:
To boat fishermen entitled to bounty $3.85 each.

We acknowledge, at once, that the policy of thus assisting a daring and deserving class is a wise and considerate policy. We are only too keenly conscious of the extraordinary strain which an unexampled world crisis now puts upon the governments of all nations. In such gripping times as these, the people should not ask anything of the State, except what is strictly essential to honest, decent livelihood.

But the position of the fishermen of Inverness is one of peculiar hardship. Larger craft is needed here for the service of the sea. The fishermen, themselves, could provide larger boats or small vessels but there would be no accommodation or protection for such on these inhospitable shores. The principal fishing stations are, Port Hawkesbury and Port Hastings; Creignish and Long Point`, Judique and Port Hood; Mabou and Inverness; Broad Cove Marsh and Margaree; Grand Etang, Cheticamp and Pleasant Bay. The last three named, as well as Port Hood, Port Hastings and Port Hawkesbury, already possess reasonable facilities for their fishing industry. All the other stations are woefully lacking in such facilities. At Margaree, Inverness and Mabou, useful harbours for large boats and small vessels could be made at a moderate cost. There ought to be a standing fleet of such craft at each of those three stations. Broad Cove Marsh, Judqiue and Long Point, require adequate wharf and pier accommodations to enable their fishermen to put to sea easily, and effect a landing safely, in ordinary wind and weather. Common prudence would suggest that the Dominion Government should see to these things.

We are aware that the state is already overburdened. How is the burden to be removed? Give the people a chance, and they will remove it. We know that we are passing through severe trials; but it is these trials, properly used, that purify and ennoble men and nations. In the present disconcerting situation, the only safety for the state, the only hope for the people, is to assist in every possible way the increased production of necessaries.


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