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Wednesday, 23 September 1936

Senator ARKINS (New South Wales) . - I commend the Government for its decision to construct a research vessel to investigate the possibilities of the fisheries industry in Australia. Senator Abbott has referred to the fact that an attempt was made by the Government of New South Wales to establish the fisheries industry in that State, and that a vessel was constructed to explore the coastal waters; but that attempt waa in the nature of an investigation of the possibilities of the successful commercial development of the industry. As the honorable senator has said, that attempt failed, and brought about something in the nature of a scandal. It is high time that the Commonwealth commenced a scientific investigation of the possibilities of exploiting the fisheries industry within tho waters under its control. I think it was Senator Payne who said that while on shipboard one night on his recent voyage to the Far East he thought he saw in the distance a modern city lit with a myriad lights. He was informed by one of the ship's officers that what he saw were merely the lights of a large Japanese trawling fleet. He was astonished to find that each boat which was electrically lighted was operating in conjunction with a highly modernized aerial fleet used for locating the fishing grounds. That is sufficient to show that the Japanese, who eat more fish than flesh, and to whom the industry is most essential, have a highly developed industry. Australian waters contain some remarkable fish, and the fishing industry has not been developed as it should he. It is probable that the fish to be found in Australian waters are not of the same quality as those in cooler regions, such as in the North Atlantic, or off the coast of Great Britain, but they have a definite value, and should be utilized.

We have been informed that Australian waters are teeming with pilchards, and that they are so numerous that they could be canned and also used as a fertilizer. An Australian named Abbott waa responsible for the introduction of the dehydrating process under which the nutritive qualities of fish are extracted and used in the production of a powder which is perhaps quite as beneficial as a food as is the fresh fish. With scientific aid this product is being commercialized, and is being sold even in the East, where fish is plentiful.

Senator Herbert Hays - It is largely a matter of price.

Senator ARKINS - Yes, coolies cannot purchase fish at ls. per lb., but they can pay1d. or½d. for fish powder. A Sydney man named Russell has for the last ten years been directing attention to the wealth which the sea can produce in the form of food, oil and fertilizers. When we realize that such men as Abbott and Russell have been trying for years to get the authorities to realize the value of sea products it is pleasing to find that at last the Government proposes to do something to develop the Australian fishing industry.

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