1915 Canadian Fisheries Expedition

Noteworthy as the first oceanographic study of the Gulf of St Lawrence and Scotian Shelf, the expedition originated with E. E. Prince, dominion commissioner of fisheries.

Canadian Fisheries Expedition, 1915

Noteworthy as the first oceanographic study of the Gulf of St Lawrence and Scotian Shelf, the expedition originated with E.E. Prince, dominion commissioner of fisheries. Prince, with other members of the Biological Board of Canada, hoped to develop new fisheries, especially for herring, to offset overfishing of lobster and oyster. Johan Hjort, Norwegian director of fisheries, was chosen to investigate herring stocks and their environment.

Arriving in Toronto late in 1914, Hjort first analysed herring collections before beginning a series of oceanographic cruises in May 1915 using the government ships Princess and Acadia and a Scottish herring drifter. The results, including discussions of the plankton collections, fish catches, temperature and salinity measurements written by several specialists, including Hjort, were published in 1919. They showed the presence of 4 distinct herring stocks, indicated the northern properties of the waters, and gave quantitative calculations of the currents.

The expedition brought sophisticated European analyses of fish populations and mathematical physical oceanography to Canada for the first time. Nevertheless, it did not lead directly to new fisheries, probably because of economic conditions, and its physical oceanographic results were ignored until H.B. Hachey's work in the 1930s.