JOHN LAWSON, Salmon Fisher, Portree (58)—examined.
9640. The Chairman.
—Will you endeavour shortly to make a statement of your own opinions with reference to the salmon fishery connected with the Isle of Skye?
—I am very sorry to say that I am not prepared to do anything of the kind, for I did not know that I was to be called forward. If you ask me any questions that I can answer I will be very glad to do so.
9641. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—We have been told that Mr Johnston has for the last two or three years conducted these fishings at a loss, but he says he thinks they may be improved by some form of legislation?
—That is, by extending them round the island. What we have on lease we cannot improve much more, but what he means to say, as I understand—I never knew anything about that till I heard Mr Darroch read it—is that if he was lessee of more of the Skye shores, he would extend the fishing still
further, and that would give more employment.
9642. Is he not able to take more fishings?
—He would take them if he could get them, but proprietors are not willing to go into the affair,
9643. The shores are not all fished?
9644. And Mr Johnston wishes to fish them?
—Yes, because I know he has tried.
9645. Professor Mackinnon.
—To what extent does your lease extend?
—We have Major Fraser's shore, Lord Macdonald's shore, and part of John Lawson, Macleod of Macleod's.
9646. Have you Mr Macallister's?
9647. Nor round the other shore between?
9648. And you would want to have the whole complete round of the island?
—We might slip parts of the island.
9649. Has any one else got the other shores?
—No, there is no fishing on the island but ours.
9650. How many people are employed?
—We employ one hundred and ten fishermen.
9651. Are they mostly natives of this place?
—They are all natives, except myself and my son.
9652. Supposing you got the whole fishings of Skye, how many would you employ?
—I cannot say exactly in the meantime. It would depend upon our success in opening up those fishings.
9653. Roughly, how many would you say?
—We employ one hundred and ten, and we might perhaps add another fifty or perhaps another
9654. By getting the rest of the shores you could improve the fishing of the whole place?
—It would only improve the shore that is lying waste.
9655. You would not increase the number of fish by your mode of fishing in any way?
—We would have to bring more to the ice-house, as we would be putting out more expense.
9656. It is just to stretch the length of your shore?
—That is all. We do not consider that we would diminish the fish on the ground we are
9657. Don't you think the limited ground you have is better, because there is no other person fishing?
—No, I don't believe that.
9658. So there would be no diminution of your profit even supposing another lessee took it up?
—No, supposing there were other one hundred and ten men fishing as strong as we do.
9659. You think the salmon could supply you all?
—Oh, the sea is wide between here and America.
9660. So it is just in proportion to the extent of the shore that you would develop the fishing?
—Yes ; besides the men I have mentioned, we have four carts driving to us and a small steamer.
9661. There would be more fish and more men?
—Yes, and more material put out.
9662. More fish caught over the island?