ISSUED BY THE
ALASKA TERRITORIAL FISH COMMISSION,
TERRITORIAL FISH COMMISSION
SCOTT C. BONE, Governor.
J. R. HECKMAN, Ketchikan.
Vice-Chairman and Executive Manager.
CALVIN C. HAZELET, Cordova.
H. E. ELLSWORTH, Seward.
P. H. GILDEA,
Superintendent of Hatcheries.
VIEWS OF PRESIDENT
[From his last speech, delivered at Seattle, Friday, July 27, on
his return from his tour of Alaska.]
The greatest Alaskan industry stands in an entirely different
relation than either gold or copper. I refer to the fisheries, which
in present wealth-producing potency far exceed the mines. In fact,
the fisheries product is now in value more than double that of all
metals and minerals. It is too great for the good of the Territory,
for if it shall continue without more general and effective regula-
tion than is now imposed, it will presumably exhaust the fish, and
leave no basis for the industry.
One must know the natural history of the salmon, the supremely
important Alaskan fish, to appraise the fisheries problem. We do
not need to enlighten Pacific Coast people, who understand the sub-
ect, but many others lack understanding. The salmon normally
begins and ends his life in fresh water, but grows and lives in the
ocean. A school of small fish, hatched in a particular stream, go
out to sea, and are lost for a period of years. In that same time
they grow into the magnificent creatures, we all know. Then they
return, with seemingly unerring instinct, to the very stream in
which they were hatched, to reproduce their kind, and then to die.
They congregate on their way back into great schools, plowing
their way up to the streams of their nativity. Full grown and
perfectly conditioned, they are now ripe for the enterprise of the
fisherman and the canner. Their habit of traveling in schools is
their undoing; for the fishermen with their nets and traps literally
scoop entire schools into their gear, and thus gradually exterminate
the entire fish population of a particular small stream. There-
after, that stream will be barren, unless a sufficient proportion of
the school is permitted to escape to spawn and perpetuate it. Too
often this does not happen, as is proved by the history of both
our Atlantic and Pacific coast salmon fisheries, and the record
of fisheries elsewhere which depend on fish with similar life habits.
The progressive disappearance of salmon along our coasts from
California northward is a story whose repetition ought to warn us
to protect it in Alaska before it is too late. The salmon pack not
only represents nine-tenths of the output of Alaska's commercial
fisheries, but it an important contribution to our national food
It is vastly more easy to declare for protection and conserva-
tion of such a resource than to formulate a practicable and equit-
able program. Fish hatcheries have been established to re-stock
streams, but the results are still conjectural and controversial. Argu-
ment is advanced for the abolition of one method of fishing in
one spot, the condemnation of another type in another, and so on,
until there is confusion of local controversies which no specific
and exclusive prohibition will solve. Even in his cruder pursuit of
the fish industry, the Indian seeks for himself the device which
he would have denied to the canner. But there is encouragement
in the almost unanimous agreement in Alaska that regulation must
and shall be enforced, and we must apply a practical wisdom to
the varied situations as the salvage of the industry demands.
Against any kind of prohibition, it is urged that the immense in-
vestment in Alaska's fisheries and canneries would be greatly in-
jured by such a reduction of the catch. To this it may well be re-
plied that the canneries would better have their catches restricted
by government regulation for a time than exterminated in a few
years through their own excesses. By the establishment of re-
serves along sections of the coast we have already accomplished
much. More restriction is necessary, and urgent. The conservation
must be affected. If Congress can not agree upon a program of
helpful legislation, the reservations and their regulations will be
further extended by executive order. There is an obligation to the
native Alaskan Indian, which conscience demands us to fulfill. More-
over, the salvation of the industry is no blow at vested interests;
it is a step toward protected investment and promoted public wel-
fare. We have invited co-operation and in the great majority of
cases it has been cordially and intelligently extended. If there is
defiance, it is better to destroy the defiant investor than to de-
molish a national resource, which needs only guarding against greed
to remain a permanent asset of incalculable value. Moreover, we
have ever to guard against the appeal of the demagogue, whose
play on popular preudice for political advantage has no place in
the solution of the great problems of national conservation.
CO-OPERATION WITH TERRITORY
U. S. S. Henderson, Sitka, Alaska,
July 23. 1923.
Governor Scott C. Bone,
In accordance with our discussions I have furnished you
today a memorandum concerning the handling of the Alaskan
salmon fisheries question.
In the matter of an advisory board it is my idea that such
a board should embrace the membership of the Territorial
Fish Commission in order that we may have co-ordination in
all efforts and that such a board should function under your
chairmanship in order that we may bring the government of
Alaska another step closer to her own people.
In formulating these suggestions I feel that I am doing
so in accordance with your own well considered view.
I wish to again thank you for the many instances of your
consideration on our most pleasant journey throughout Alaska.
Statement of Secretary Hoover, of the
Department of Commerce
I have now had an opportunity of consulting with scores of
people in Alaska on the fisheries question—with fishermen, can-
ners, public officials, business men and experts, in public hearings
and otherwise. There has not been a single dissent from the con-
clusion that there must be strong and immediate restrictions on
salmon fishing, if we are to preserve the industry from the same
destruction that has ruined many of our national fisheries else-
where. In fact, it should have been undertaken in Alaska years
ago. Moreover, through Western Alaska, where actual measures
have been taken, I have found unanimous support of the Depart-
ment's policy of reserves and other methods for the immediate limit-
ing of the amount of fish taken pending action by Congress.
The need for conservation in Alaska has been recognized for
over ten years and has been a constant subject of debate and dis
cussion, and I am greatly pleased to see the large measure of sup-
port given the Administration for having substituted action for pious
discussion. Restriction on activities naturally causes sacrifice and
trouble. I regret that the purpose of the reserves has been de-
liberately misrepresented to the people in Western Alaska and else-
where, not only as to purpose, but as to the actual methods in-
stalled. However, the working of the reserves for a season has
demonstrated to these people the untruth of these statements.
It is to be hoped that Congress will take immediate action to
give more constructive authority. In the meantime this Administra-
tion does not intend to sit idly by denying responsibility under
the authority already available, but to use it to the fullest effect.
This is the largest of Alaska's industries. More than halt her popu-
lation and more than half her Territorial revenues are dependent
upon it. It can in time be built up to much larger dimensions than
at present. If nothing is done, it will be lost in a few years. It
is of vital importance to the whole American people as a source of
national food supply. New legislation in order to be effective must
be of the broadest possible order, because of the different topo-
graphical and biological problems of each locality, together with
the differing rate of depletion of different species, and many other
factors. The method of regulation must vary with each locality, if
we would serve the primary purpose of securing a rebuilding of the
fish supply and at the same time do justice to the canners and the
fishermen in maintaining the industry and in the end gradually
build a permanent Alaskan population devoted to the fisheries. There
are no universal panaceas for this whole problem in Alaska. Neither
seasonal restrictions, nor limitations of pack, limitation of any
particular gear or its location, are universally applicable.
Every District is a problem to itself. The complete suppression
of canning -upon the Yukon has already increased the supplies for
natives, whites and dogs throughout the Interior, where before the
supply was insufficient and there was even actual starvation among
Indians and work dogs. In other places regulations have reduced
the pack of red salmon which is the most depleted, and a reduction
in the amount of gear that can be used by each cannery on every
species should tend to make the total pack less in proportion to
the total run and therefore permit a larger proportion of escape-
ment to the spawning grounds. As examples of variation of
methods, on Bristol Bay, the regulations abolished the whole of
the existing traps. In Cook’s Inlet, on the other hand, the inde-
pendent fishermen, as well as the canners, support the necessity of
the great majority of the take being by traps. This is due to the
physical character of the bays as well as to other factors.
Much experience will be required to evolve the most success-
ful method of balancing the factors and securing the recuperation
of the fish supply. Therefore all talk of definite laws universally
applicable is nonsense. There must be variable and constructive
regulation under broad authority. Furthermore, In dealing with
problems of so wide human and property interest there should be
established under such legislation an appropriate method of appeal
to some independent commission or authority.
The experience gained under the reserves will be of great value
in working out constructive legislation, and the Administration has
earnestly desired and received a great deal of constructive sug-
gestion from the people involved in the industry. In order that
there shall be definite machinery for recruiting such expression and
to secure the advice and co-operation of the various- elements of the
industry and the public at large in Alaska in the temporary meas-
ures now being applied, I shall, with the approval of the President,
create a Board in Alaska, to consider and advise with the Depart-
ment as to the regulations under the Reserves. This Advisory
Board will be able to advise upon methods and grievances and
will, I am confident, not only reinforce constructive work, but give
full voice to the Alaskan people and make impossible the deliberate
misrepresentation which has hitherto been current.
Our primary purpose is to restore this industry. The responsi-
bility rests on the officials who have the authority to translate it
into action. Pious statements, scientific discussion, and political
oratory will not spawn salmon. Conservation cannot be carried
out without a temporary reducton in the amount of fish taken on
the one hand and without constructive measures for enlarged pro-
pagation on the other. These are not agreeable duties but they are
part of the responsibility of public office and I am confident that
they will receive the support of the well-thinking men and women
of Alaska who treasure their country, not alone for themselves, but
also for their children.
WASTE IN THE FISHERIES
(From the Governor's Annual Report, 1922.)
Conservation of the fisheries is most urgent and can take prac-
tical form and be best brought about through regulation of the
yearly catch and closer supervision of the packing and canning
industry. In its own interest, no less than to safeguard the fish
supply of the future, the industry requires and should welcome regu-
lation and supervision. The welfare of the natives and of native
fishermen should, simultaneously, be protected. Overfishing during
the war, under the spur of seeming necessity, demoralized the trade
and apparently depleted the waters. Poor fishing seasons followed
and widespread alarm was felt lest salmon and halibut be Hearing
exhaustion. An unexpected and, in some waters, abnormal run dur-
ing the season just closed found the canneries unprepared and the
resultant waste of unmarketable fish dumped back into the sea
was large. Tens of thousands were thus destroyed. Immediate
facilities for canning and packing were lacking.
Under normal conditions, year after year, the waste is heavy in
the rejection of fish because of size or species. Wholesome fish food
in quantity sufficient to meet the needs of great communities in
populous centers, or suffering foreign lands, is annually cast to the
depths. Failure to utilize by-products involves further waste.
Developing in a haphazard way into collossal proportions, the
fishing, canning, and packing industry in Alaska, for the sake of its
perpetunity, stands in need of business coordination.
Attention is constantly given by the authorities and Congress
to collateral questions touching seines and traps to the exclusion of
consideration of the larger commercial and economic aspects of the
situation affecting not only Alaska but the country at large.
Inspection of the canning and packing plants, with strict en-
forcement of rules of health and sanitation, is urgently needed.
Some canneries are models of cleanliness, but others are shocking
to tourists and assuredly would never bear the scrutiny and receive
the approval of vigilant sanitary and health officers.
The Department of Commerce should have full authority over
the fisheries of Alaska, with its Bureau of Fisheries adequately
equipped and empowered to make and enforce rules and regula-
tions limiting the catch and number of traps and curtailing fishing
areas .and closing streams in the public good. If further reserves
be necessary to augment government authority, they should be
promptly ordered. The problems of the fisheries are general, not
local, except in respect to the guaranteed rights of the natives, which
must be respected and upheld. The Territorial fish commission is
cooperating closely with the Federal Bureau of Fisheries.
.Supervision of the canneries calls, also, for closer inspection of
the alien labor brought to Alaska during the season and the living
conditions under which such labor is employed. Making due al-
lowance for probable exaggeration and appreciating the difficulty
of securing American fishermen, the type of imported labor and
living conditions are most undesirable in some cases, if not an
actual menace. The migratory character of the industry in certain
districts reduces to the minimum its benefit to Alaska, save in taxa-
tion imposed and paid. Great fleets come into the waters pro-
visioned for the shore season, with hordes of alien laborers, and
make their enormous catches and go out. Naturally there is not
American labor sufficient and available in remote regions for fishing
needs. As much of the land all along the coast is fertile and
adaptable to 'gardening and small farming, fishing villages should
spring up in course of time and it would seem the part of ultimate
wisdom for the big packing companies to aid in establishing such
(Comment of Governor Scott C. Bone on the
Presidents Seattle Speech.)
From the Alaska Daily Empire, July 28, 1923.
I am gratified that the President spoke out unqualifiedly and
in no compromising terms as to the fixed policy of the government
to regulate the fisheries of Alaska. There will be regulation and
strict supervision. Conservation of the fisheries is imperative. I
have never favored the reserve system or idea, but in the absence
of legislation it is today the only alternative.
The reserves in the waters to the Westward have operated
successfully during the past year. The outcry about fishermen being
denied their rights is without basis in fact. For months I have
sought a specific case of any man or set of men being injured by
the establishment of fishing zones and have been unable to find a
single instance. The curtailment of nets and other fishing gear
during the season has approximated forty per cent. This means
At Anchorage, Seward and Cordova Secretary Hoover held
hearings and not a complaint was submitted to him. It is im-
probable that legislation by Congress, vesting full authority in the
Department of Commerce, can be secured during the next short
session. Extremists meet whenever a fisheries law is under con-
sideration and equitable legislation is retarded and rendered well-
Conditions in the various fishing waters of Alaska are divergent
and regulations cannot be made uniform. Under the direction of
such a man as Herbert Hoover unquestionably all just rights will be
protected and maintained and real conservation achieved in the
interests, not only of Alaska, but the world at large.
It is patent that the fisheries problem will not be rightly solved
as a political issue and Alaskans may depend upon it that politics
will not be permitted to stand in the way of essential regulations.
[H. B. 49]
To supplement the fish laws of the United States applicable to
Alaska; to conserve the salmon supply of Alaska; to provide for
closed seasons for salmon fishing, and for other purposes, and
declaring an emergency.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of the Territory of Alaska:
Section 1. That it shall be unlawful to take or fish for salmon
for commercial purposes, except by trollers, in the waters of Alaska
between the 57th and 60th degrees of north latitude and east of
139th meridian west longitude from the tenth day of August to the
first day of September in each year.
Section 2. That it shall be unlawful to take or fish for salmon
for commercial purposes, except by trollers, in the waters of Alaska
south of the 57th degree of north latitude and east of 139th meridian
from the 20th day of August to the 9th day of September in each
Section 3. That any person, firm or corporation violating any
of the provisions of this act shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and
upon conviction thereof for each and every offense be punished by
a fine of not Jess than fifty dollars ($50.00) nor more than one
thousand dollars ($1,000.00), or by imprisonment in jail for not less
than ten days nor more than one year, or by both such fine and
imprisonment, in the discretion of the court.
Section 4. This Act shall not be so construed as in anywise
to alter, amend, modify or repeal any of the fish laws of the
United States applicable to Alaska, or any act of Congress whatso-
ever relating to the fisheries of Alaska whether designed to regu-
late the same or passed for any other purpose whatsoever, but all
such laws and acts of Congress shall be and remain in full force
and effect. The purpose of this Act is not to alter, amend, modify
or repeal any of such laws, but to provide for further and addi-
tional regulation of the fisheries with a view of giving additional
protection to the salmon and insuring a future supply thereof, and
this Act shall be construed so as to carry out the intention herein
expressed and not otherwise.
Section 5. An emergency is hereby declared to exist and this
act shall be in effect immediately upon its passage and approval.
Approved May 4, 1923.