Page images

While in this position, the Argonaut and the French, on the morning of the day in question, cast their seines and surrounded schools of mackerel between four and five miles from the nearest land.?

After the Argonaut had cast her seine some difficulty ensued in pursing it up, one end of the seine becoming fouled, and as a result nearly an hour's time was spent in attempting to free it;' and, during the unusual delay which was caused by this accident, the tide, which was running heavily at the time, swept the seine laden with the fish nearer the shore. The captain of the Argonaut, who wa operating the seine boat, became convinced that it would be impossible in the strong tide to keep the deep seine full of fish from drifting further shoreward, and realized that the seine was likely to come within the three-mile limit before the fish could be removed from the seine and the seine taken on board. Desiring to avoid any possible appearance of violating the laws of Canada, he gave orders to his crew to turn out the fish and take up the seine.!" While the croir were thus engaged, releasing the fish alive and taking noile on board, except a few that were strongly meshed in ti. twine, the Canadian cutter Critic, which had been about it mile from the boat when the seine was pursed up," approached, seized the boat and soine, and arrested twelve members of the crew.12

The master of the Col. Jonas 11. French, after pursing up his seine so as to secure the fish, left the seine with the fish enclosed in charge of two men in a seine boat, and with another seine and boat went in search of other fish. The two men found that it was impossible for them to keep the deep seine with the fish enclosed from drifting with the strong tide towards the shore, and after about three-quarters of an hour, realizing that they were in danger of drift

[ocr errors][ocr errors]



ing within the three-mile limit, they endeavored to raise the seine so as to release the fish and take the seine on board.14 Before this could be done, the cutter Critic came up and seized the boat and seine and took the two men in charge.

No attempt was made by the commander of the Critic by taking bearings or otherwise to determine how far distant these boats and seines were from the shore, when they were seized, until more than three hours after the seizures were made.16 He attempted in each case to mark the place of seizure, first by putting over a piece of anchored timber, which was immediately carried beneath the surface by the force of the tide, and then by putting over a dingy or smali boat, anchored only by a ten-pound dipsey lead and in charge of a small boy, and took no steps to measure the distance from shore until he had succeeded in freeing the seine belonging to the Argonaut, which, as before stated, had become fouled." At the end of about three how's the Critic stood in towards the shore to a point which the commander estimated at one-half mile distant therefrom, and after throwing over a taffrail log to measure the distance, returned to where the boats were left more than three hours before to mark the places where the two seizures were made. The commander claimed that the log measured two miles, but he had no accurate means of determining how near he had stood in towards the shore when he threw over the log, nor how far the small boats had drifted landward in the strong tide.''

Competent seamen, eve witnesses to the seizure, testify that both boats and seines were fully three miles from the shore wlaen the seizures were made.2" Captain John S. Staples, ma ster of the schooner l'esta, who was fishing about one-quar -ter of a mile outside of where the Argonaut and French coast their seines, states that he took careful bear



ings before the seines were cast and found that he was five and one-quarter miles from land. After he had pursed his seine, which operation took about one hour's time, he again took bearings and found that he had drifted so that he was three and one-half miles from land. The Argonant's boat and seine were about one-quarter of a mile inside of Captain Staples' boat when he took his last bearings, and immediately after this the seizures were made.- The boat and seine of the French were seaward of those of the Argonaut when seized.22

The masters of the Argonaut and the Col. Jonus H. French, being deprived of their means of taking a fare of fish by reason of the seizure of their best boats and seines and the arrest and detention of members of their crews, found it necessary to abandon their fishing trips and return to Gloucester 2 While returning to their home port the masters of the two vessels heard that it was the intention of the Canadian authorities to seize the digonaut and French wherever they could be found outside of the territorial waters of the United States.24 Public notice was given by the Minister of Marine and Fisheries of this intention, and the collectors of the various ports along the straits of Canso were instructed to seize the two schooners should they attempt to pass through those waters.5

By reason of these unjustifiable threats and the fear of arrest which they caused, through the publicity given to them in American ports, the owners of the two schooner's found it impossible to obtain crews to man the vessels for further mackerel fishing anywhere in the vicinity of Canadian waters, and it became necessary to abandon mackerel fishing operations so far as these vessels were concerned."

The digonaut shortly thereafter was sent to George's Bank on a codlishing trip, but the voyage was unsuccessful. Finding it impossible to use her again in the mackerel fishery, for which she was especially equipped, the schooner was sold in March, 1888, to citizens of a foreign country at a loss of $3,000, the depreciation being due to the fact that the vessel had been rendered useless so far as the mackerel fisheries were concerned.27

The French lay idle for the remainder of the season of 1887, and was never thereafter of any profit to her owner.28

The boats and seines belonging to the Argonaut and the Col. Jonas H. French, seized on the 24th of July, 1887, as above described, were condemned in the Vice Admiralty Court of Prince Edward Island as forfeited to the Crown in ex parte proceedings held on the 6th of March, 1888.29

On the 30th of March, 1888, counsel for the owners requested that the sale, ordered pursuant to the decree of condemnation, be postponed until the owners could put in their defense.3" On the 14th of April, 1888, the Department of Fisheries replied that the case would be reopened upon security being given for costs.? When the matter was referred to the owners, it was found that important witnesses were away at sea and there would be an indefinite delay in obtaining the necessary evidence.32

In view of these facts, of the depreciation that had taken place in the boats and seines, and especially of the fact that the owners would still be without remedy for the loss sustained by reason of the breaking up of the voyages of their vessels and the damage occasioned them by reason of the unjustifiable threats of seizure and arrest by the Canadian authorities, it was decided to leave the redress of their wrongs to their Government, to whom the claims had been referred.33

The direct loss to the owners of the two vessels resulting from the wrongful seizures and condemnation of their boats

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

and seines and the threats of seizure of the vessels was as follows:

The Argonaut:

First, the fair market value of the property actually seized, $1,600, made up as follows: Seine

$1,100 Seine boat and fittings.

500 Second, the loss to the vessel's stock, resulting from the breaking up of her voyage.

6.000 Third, loss during remainder of season of 1887

14,000 Fourth, depreciation in the market value of

schooner, resulting from the unwarranted threats of seizure.




The Col. Jonas 11. French:

First, the fair market value of the property seized : Seine

$1,100.00 Seine boat

375.00 Stern roll lock.

1.25 9 roll locks.

7.50 10 oars

35.00 Purse davy

5.00 6 purse blocks.

15.00 6 purse weights.



Second, loss to the vessel's stock resulting from


breaking up of voyage. Third, loss to the vessel's stock during remain

der of season.



« PreviousContinue »