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REPORT OF FISHERIES COMMISSIONER FOR BRITISH COLUMBIA. British Columbia. Legislative Assembly 1902

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 2 Ed 7 Report of Fisheries Commissioner. 821
REPORT
 OF-
FISHERIES COMMISSIONER FOR BRITISH COLUMBIA,
Victoria,.British Columbia,
December loth, 1901.
Hon. D. M. Eberts,
A ttorney-General.
Sir,—I have the honour to submit that, upon receiving my appointment as Fisheries
Commissioner on October 15th, 1901, I came to Victoria, and at a conference with the
Executive Council it was determined that, as at this time the sockeye salmon interests of the
Fraser River were of the greatest commercial value, I should at once proceed to investigate
the spawning grounds and habits of the sockeye (0. Nerka) of that river, with a view to the
location of suitable hatchery sites. During the investigation which immediately followed, I
visited Harrison Lake and River, and most of their tributaries. I ascended the Fraser River
to Lillooet, and spent a week at Seton and Anderson Lakes. I then went up the Fraser's
largest tributary, the Thompson, to its head at Shuswap Lake. In the Harrison and Lillooet
Districts I found the sockeye spawning in large numbers. The spawning season was over in
the Shuswap country, and I spent but little time there. I was fortunate, however, in being-
able to spend a day with Mr. William Roxburg at the new hatchery at Tappen Siding, on the
Salmon Arm of Shuswap Lake, and he gave me much information regarding the seasons and
movements of the sockeye in that vicinity. Upon my return from the Thompson it was considered desirable that I should proceed to Rivers Inlet and go over as many of the streams
entering Oweekayno Lake as the season would permit. I spent the week of November 18-25
there, and examined many of the streams tributary to the lake, which are the spawning
grounds of the sockeye and the other salmon that pass up Rivers Inlet.
On the trip to Harrison River I was accompanied by Mr. C. B. Sword, Inspector of
Fisheries of the Dominion Government, and I desire in this public way to make known to him
my hearty appreciation of his courteous manner and the valuable information he gave me.
With Mr. Sword I went to the spawning station on Morris Creek, situatedf our miles below
Harrison Lake. His assistants were there collecting the eggs of the sockeye, which he was
forwarding to the hatchery at Bon Accord, on the Fraser River, a few miles above New
Westminster. The late run of the sockeye congregates in considerable numbers at Morris
Creek, and the Dominion Government has operated at this point in the collection of their
eggs since 1884. This is the only point where spawn has been taken up to 1901, at which
time eggs were also secured at Scotch Creek, a tributary of Shuswap Lake, and transported
sixty miles to the new hatchery at Tappen. In addition to expressing my obligation to Mr.
C. B. Sword and Mr. William Roxburg, I desire to acknowledge my indebtedness to Mr.
George S. McTavish, the Superintendent of the British Columbia Canning Company at Rivers
Inlet, for his entertainment during my stay there ; for arranging the details of my trip up
Oweekayno Lake; for selecting the Indian boatmen, and for accompanying me on the trip at
great inconvenience to himself.    His services were invaluable.
With the above statement of my movements, I submit the following suggestions for
consideration:—
The salmon of the Province being the most valuable of its fishery interests, it commands
first  consideration.    The sockeye (0. Nerka), being the most important of the salmon runs 822 Report of Fisheries Commissioner. 1902
both in number and value, its propagation is first considered. As the run of sockeye in
the Fraser River is the most important, the greatest number of fishermen and cannery
employees are engaged there, and the capital invested is the largest of any section of the
Province, it is suggested that the first efforts of the Government should be directed towards
the support and maintenance of the run of fish in that great river; and that, as moneys are
available, other sections should, in accordance with their needs and importance, be taken up
and considered. The hatchery system of the Province, to be adequate, must be comprehensive
and expansive. An ideal hatchery location, to be available, should be situated upon a stream
naturally frequented by spawning fish, where the run of such fish can be depended upon with
the greatest certainty, where climatic conditions are the most favourable, where the eggs can
be immediately transferred to the hatchery, where the young fish can be liberated at the least
cost, and where sufficient local labour is assured. Such a location is found on the Fraser
River at the outlet of Seton Lake, in Lillooet District. Seton Lake is situated some fifty
miles north of the point where the Thompson enters the Fraser River, and three miles from
the town of Lillooet. The lake is seventeen miles in length, seldom exceeds a mile in width,
is of great depth, and is bounded on each side by high, snow-capped mountains that descend
abruptly to the shores.
Seton Lake is connected at its western end by a short stream with Anderson Lake, which
is its counterpart, though a mile less in length, and heads in the mountains farther to the
south.
The outlet of Seton Lake, known as Lake Creek, empties a mile from the lake into
Cayoosh Creek, a large stream cooling from the mountains a short distance south of Seton
Lake, and which empties into the Fraser River three miles below the lake. The outlet, while
carrying a considerable volume of water, is wide and shallow, and at several points affords
excellent opportunities for the placing of weirs to intercept the fish, and the location of the
hatcheries immediately adjoining. The sockeye enters Cayoosh Creek in great numbers every
year. The run begins late in July, and usually continues until about October 1st. The first
of the run passes through Seton Lake and Portage Creek into Anderson Lake. Later than
this first run, vast numbers spawn in Seton Lake and the outlet streams. During the past
season the run is said to have been the largest in twenty years, and it continued some three
weeks longer than usual. During the time of my inspection of these places (October 30th to
November 3rd) the fish were still running. The shores of the lakes and their tributary
streams were covered with dead fish and the whitened bones of those of the earlier run.
Dead, dying and spawning fish were seen in large numbers in Cayoosh, Lake and Portage
Creeks. The air along these streams and at the end of Seton Lake was sickening from the
stench of the dead salmon. I was told, however, that it had been much worse a month before,
and was as offensive every year during the run.
Mr. John Marshall, who has lived on Cayoosh Creek below Seton Lake for the past
twenty years, says that every year there is a large run of sockeye salmon, though the run is
much larger every fourth year; that the fish have not failed to run during August and
September ever since he has lived there; that the run this season was one-third greater than
in any previous year ; that the young salmon pass out of the lake on the first high water in
the spring, and continue to pass down until July; that the Indians annually catch many
thousands of the young salmon as they pass out of the lake.
Mr. E. S. Peters, who has lived at the outlet of Seton Lake for many years, and who
operates the saw-mill there, says the sockeye run begins in July and continues until October ;
that there is a good run every year, and that it is noticeably larger every fourth year ; that
the first of the run passes through Seton into Anderson Lake; that in passing up Seton Lake
they keep close to the surface and run in vast schools; that early in October, during the past
season, the surface of Seton Lake was covered with dead salmon ; that the young fish begin to
pass out of the lake about May 1st, on the rising water ; that they pass down in a continuous
procession, and that the Indians at that time, by means of traps, catch great numbers of them
every year.
The statements of Messrs. Marshall and Peters are confirmed by Mr. William Durban
and Mr. John Dunlap, who live near the outlet of Seton Lake, and by the Indians living at
Seton and Anderson Lakes.
Because of the statements above quoted, and those made by other residents of Lillooet,
and from my own observations, I am satisfied that there is a sufficiently extensive run of
sockeye every year to warrant large hatchery operations at Seton Lake.     This location offers 2 Ed. 7 Report of Fisheries Commissioner. 823
exceptional opportunities for the establishment of large hatcheries. The climatic conditions
could not be improved. As no rain falls during the spawning season the streams are not
subject to freshets, and weirs can be easily maintained and the fish thus successfully impounded
at the hatchery site. The waters of the outlet are clear, of equable temperature, and have
sufficient fall to make them available for use in the hatchery. There are numerous sites on
the stream where the necessary hatchery buildings can be erected, and where the eggs can be
taken and at once transferred to them. There is a saw-mill at the outlet of Seton Lake,
which will ensure cheap lumber at the hatchery site. The necessary labour can be obtained
from the town of Lillooet and the Indian villages close at hand, and finally and most important
there is an abundance of ripe fish and suitable waters for the distribution of the young fish.
I consider this location one of the best, if not the best site I have ever seen for the establishment of a large hatchery. On Portage Creek, which unites Anderson and Seton Lakes, is
situated a hatchery site equally as desirable as that at Seton Lake, except that the expense of
securing lumber and labour would be larger. In my judgment, during the past season, one
hundred millions of eggs could have been secured at Seton and Anderson Lakes.
Attached hereto is a sketch map of Seton Lake and its outlet stream that may prove of
interest in considering the location.
In consideration of the fact that, during the season of 1901, some twenty-five millions of
adult sockeye were taken from the. waters of Puget Sound, the Straits of Georgia and the
Fraser River, while on their way to that stream to spawn, it must be conceded that hatching
operations should be conducted upon a large scale if the salmon interests are to be maintained
and a large run of fish insured every season. It is well known that there is a greater yearly
fluctuation in the numbers of the sockeye which run in the Fraser River than in any other
stream in the Pacific Coast. This periodicity is very marked, and never more so than during
the past two seasons. In 1900 only 311,000 cases of salmon were packed on the Fraser,
while in 1901 the pack was over 1,000,000 cases, and could have been larger had the market
conditions warranted. In my opinion, the periodicity of the big runs can be overcome by
planting millions of fry every year for a considerable period. If this result could be accomplished, or even if there were only a remote likelihood that such a result could be attained by
the propagation of millions of fry, how gross would be the neglect not to undertake it.
The value of the salmon pack of the Fraser District in the year 1901 reached $5,000,000,
while the pack of 1900 did not reach $2,500,000. I do not propose to consider, in this report,
the causes which occasion the remarkable fluctuations in the run of salmon in the Fraser River,
but simply refer to them to contrast the fluctuation in value and volume of the salmon interests
from year to year, in order to show the advantages of the proposed propagation.
To this end the following brief comparison is made between the natural and the so-called
artificial method of propagating the salmon.
Few authorities believe that ten per cent, of the eggs of the salmon naturally reach the
fry stage of development, and some experts beiieve the number is very much less. By the
hatchery method ninety per cent, of the eggs produce swimming fish. Under natural conditions the eggs are fertilised in the water after they leave the female. The eggs, being heavier
than the water, settle upon the bottom where they are helpless. If by good fortune the egg-
has come in contact with the milt of the male and is fertilised, and after settling upon the bed
of the stream it is swept by the currents under the stones and out of sight, and there remains
undisturbed during the four to six months which is necessary for its development into a
swimming fish, in water of the temperature of the streams under consideration, nature's
method has been accomplished. In other words, the egg is sterile when it is expressed from
the female, and in nature it must come in contact in the water with the germs of the male
within two and one-half minutes after it is expressed by the female, and it must then escape
the attention of its many enemies for months if it is to develop into a young salmon. Considering these facts it is plain that under natural conditions only a small percentage of the
three thousand or less eggs of the average female sockeye ever reach the swimming stage of
development.
Under the hatchery method the ripe fish are captured on or near their natural spawning
beds. The fish when ready for spawning are removed from the water, the eggs of the female
and the milt of the male are expressed at the same time into the same pan, where every egg
is brought into instant contact with the germs of the male and all the healthy eggs are thus
fertilised. 824 Report of Fisheries Commissioner. 1902
The eggs are then placed in the hatchery and carefully attended. They are kept free
from silt and the vegetable germs that are so fatal to them, until the alevin emerges from the
egg, its sack is absorbed, and it rises from the bottom of the hatchery trough a free, swimming
fish, when it is at once taken to the stream and liberated. Nature's method has been
improved upon. Almost all the eggs have been fertilised. The helpless egg and almost helpless alevin have been carefully cared for; and at the same time, and in almost the same place
where nature intended the fry should advance and attain self-control, he is placed a healthy,
free, swimming fish, where he begins his struggle for existence and his descent of the watercourse to the sea. The hatchery method places over ninety per cent, of the eggs back into
the water as swimming fish, while, by the natural method, only a possible ten per cent. The
little fish do not know that they have been reared by other than natural means ; that the
State has protected them during the helpless stages of their development. Their natural
instincts are unchanged. They find themselves free where nature intended them to be and
fully equipped with all their natural instincts. They have in no way been changed or handicapped by this treatment. They are in every way as capable of caring for themselves as they
would have been if hatched by nature's method. By means of hatchery methods a vastly
larger number of healthy young fish are placed in the streams, that have an equal chance,
with those hatched naturally, to pass to the sea. From even this general statement of the
hatchery method there is no doubt of the efficiency or desirability of such propagation, for, in
addition, we have the results attained in other sections to fully prove its value. Artificial
propagation in California has restored the salmon to the Sacramento River.
In reviewing the history of the salmon and its propagation in the Sacramento River, we
find that under natural conditions, before the natural spawning grounds had been destroyed, the
catch in 1873 was a little over five million pounds. Hatcheries were established in 1875, and
two million fry were annually planted up to 1884, when the hatcheries were closed for four
years. In 1878 the catch was six and one-half million pounds. The annual catch reached its
greatest in 1880, when 10,837,000 pounds were taken, and the catch in each of the ensuing
three years was over 9,000,000 pounds.
Beginning with the fourth year following the closing of the hatcheries, the catch annually
decreased until 1892, when the lowest figures were reached, only 3,484,000 pounds being taken,
when the effect of the resumption of the hatchery work was again made manifest. The catch
has annually increased. The census for 1899, issued by the United States Commission of
Fish and Fisheries, gives the catch for that year as 7,232,645 pounds, and the catch for 1901
is placed by authorities at 9,000,000 pounds.
In this connection it should be remembered that the establishment of manufactories, the
diversion of waters for irrigation, extensive mining and agricultural methods during the last
ten years have almost entirely destroyed the natural spawning grounds of the salmon on the
Sacramento River. The propagation of salmon in California alone maintains the run of fish
in her streams. This statement cannot be, and is not, questioned by any authority on the
subject.
Shad and striped bass which were introduced into the waters of California are now taken
in great numbers. In 1879-81 a total of four hundred and fifty little fingerling striped bass
(an anadromous fish like the salmon, and not previously found in the Pacific) were liberated
in the Sacramento River. In 1900 over one and a half million pounds of this most valuable
fish were taken from the waters of California. Similar results followed the introduction of
shad. In commenting upon these results, Dr. Hugh M. Smith, of the United States Fish
Commission, says :—
" Of scarcely less consequence than the actual results of shad and striped bass introduction
on the west coast is the important bearing which the success of the experiment must have in
determining the outcome of artificial propagation in regions in wdiich it is not possible to
distinguish, with satisfactory accuracy, the natural from the artificial conditions. If these
far-reaching results attend the planting on a few occasions of small numbers of fry in waters
to which the fish are not indigenous, is it not permissible to assume that more striking consequences must follow the planting of enormous quantities of fry year after year in native waters.
There is no reasonable doubt that the perpetuation of the extensive shad fisheries in most of
the rivers of the Atlantic Coast has been accomplished entirely by artificial propagation. On
no other supposition can the maintenance and increase of the supply be accounted for."
In this report I have not touched upon the opportunities offered for propagation at other
points on the Fraser and Thompson Rivers, or at Oweekayno Lake above Rivers Inlet, though 2 Ed. 7 Report of Fisheries Commissioner. 825
they are numerous, for the reason that I consider it advisable to first establish one large
station at some point where conditions are most favourable, and there undertake the training
of a sufficient number of men to make a competent hatchery force available before other points
shall be determined upon.
In conclusion, I most respectfully urge that money be at once appropriated for the construction of a hatchery station at Seton Lake, with a hatching capacity of twenty-five millions
of sockeye eggs. In addition, consideration should be given to the investigation of conditions
affecting other fisheries and their development, and money appropriated tor that purpose.
All of which I have the honour to submit.
JOHN PEASE BABCOCK,
Fisheries Commissioner.
victoria, b. c.:
Printed by Richard Wolfenden, Printer to the King's Most Excellent Majesty.
190-2. 

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