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Journal of the House of Assembly of Newfoundland
Third Session of the Sixth General Assembly
St. John's

Letter to Hon. P.F. Little from Charles Cozens as found in the 1857
Journal of the House of Assembly of Newfoundland
Brigus, Feb 24, 1857

 

Sir,-

In reply to your questions relative to the Convention entered into by Great Britian and France respecting the Newfoundland Fishers, and how I have been connected with the same, &c., I would state that I have been in this country nearly fifty years. I have had establishments in different parts of this Island and also at Labrador, and carried on the seal and Cod Fishery extensively for nearly thirty years.

In asnwer to your first question, my opinion is, that the concessions made by thie Convention to France, will terminate in ruin to the trade and the people of this country.

During the French war I was on the French Shore myself one season, and afterwards supplied Planters there and at Green Bay; there was then abundant supply of fish at these places; but when the French returned to the shore, after the peace, they allowed our most experienced and active Planters to remain a few years till they had learnt the way to take fish with the Cod-seine (for before the French war the French caught only with hook and line) they then turned them off the shore.
In a few years the French were numerous on the shore, and encrouched on part of Green Bay. They excelled our Planters in taking fish having such large and deep seines, and with their bultows, &c., prevented the fish striking into Green Bay, and caused a total failure of fish there, which ruined several wealthy merchants in that neighbourhood as wel as the Planters and Fishermen.

The French had also failures of fish on their shore, caused by their deep seines and bultows destroying and preventing the mother fish going to the shore to spawn. If the French should have a right concurrently with British subjects to the Fish at Labrador, it will be ruinous to our fishermen up the Straits; they will not be able to compete with them either in taking fish or bait. In a few years the French would swarm on the shore and monopolise all the hauling places to themselves, and with their bultows, &c., would soon cause a failure of fish on that coast.

It is believed that if the French have the right granted to fish on Belle Isle Ledge, it will prevent the fish stiking in at that part of Labrador; and if they have a right granted to fish at Cape Charles, and take what herring they please, it will be ruinous to the Cod and Herring Fishery at Cape Charles, Battle Harbor, and Harbors adjacent where we have hitherto done so well.
On the South Coast I consider that the right of the French to take bait there would be ruinous to our trade and fishery, but you will be better informed on the subject by those residing there.

In reply to your second question, I would say that in my opinion the equivalent offered in the Treaty in return for the concessions asked for, is trifling when compared with the sacrifice and loss the Colony would sustain.

I am, Sir,
Your obedient Servant, C. Cozens

 

 

Transcribed by Linda Elkins-Schmitt (2008 02)

Page Last Modified March 06, 2013 (Craig Peterman)

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