No. 254.

Circular relating to Canadian in-shore fisheries.

Sir: In compliance with the request of the Secretary of State, you are hereby authorized and directed to inform all masters of fishing vessels, at the time of clearance from your port, that the authorities of the Dominion of Canada have terminated the system of granting fishing licenses to foreign vessels, under which they have heretofore been permitted to fish within the maritime jurisdiction of the said Dominion, that is to say, within three marine miles of the shores thereof; and that all fishermen of the United States are prohibited from the use of such in shore fisheries, except so far as stipulated in the first article of the treaty of October 20, 1818, between the United States and Great Britain, in virtue of which the fishermen of the United States have, in common with the subjects of her Britannic Majesty, the liberty to take fish of every kind on that part of the southern coast of Newfoundland which extends from Cape Ray to the Ramean Islands, on the western and northern coast of Newfoundland, from the said Cape Ray to the Quirpon [Page 412]Islands, on the shores of the Magdalen Islands, and also on the coasts, bays, harbors, and creeks, from Mount Joly, which was, when the treaty was signed, on the southern coast of Labrador, to and through the straits of Belle Isle, and thence northwardly, indefinitely along the coast, without prejudice, however, to any exclusive rights of the Hudson’s Bay Company; and have also liberty forever to dry and cure fish in any of the unsettled bays, harbors, and creeks of the southern part of the coast of Newfoundland, above described, and of the coast of Labrador, unless the same or any portion thereof be settled, in which case it is not lawful for the said fishermen to dry or cure fish at such portion so settled, without previous agreement for such purpose with the inhabitants, proprietors, or possessors of the ground; and also, are admitted to enter any other bays or harbors for the purpose of shelter and of repairing damages therein, of purchasing wood, and of obtaining water, and for no other purpose whatever, subject to such restrictions as may be necessary to prevent their taking, drying, or curing fish therein, or in any other manner whatever abusing the privileges reserved to them as above expressed.

The Canadian law of the 22dofMay, 1868, 31 Victoria, cap. 61, entitled “An act respecting fishing by foreign vessels,” among other things, enacts that any commissioned officer of her Majesty’s navy, serving on board of any vessel of her Majesty’s navy, cruising and being in the waters of Canada for purpose of affording protection to her Majesty’s subjects engaged in the fisheries; or any commissioned officer of her Majesty’s navy, fishery officer, or stipendiary magistrate on board of any vessel belonging to or in the service of the government of Canada, and employed in the service of protecting the fisheries, or any officer of the customs of Canada, sheriff, magistrate, or other person duly commissioned for that purpose, may go on board of any ship, vessel, or boat within any harbor in Canada, or hovering (in British waters) within three marine miles of any of the coasts, bays, creeks, or harbors in Canada, and stay on board so long as she may remain within such place or distance. It also provides, that if such ship, vessel, or boat be bound elsewhere, and shall continue within such harbor or so hovering for twenty-four hours after the master shall have been required to depart, any one of such officers or persons as are above mentioned may bring such ship, vessel, or boat into port and search her cargo, and may also examine the master upon oath touching the cargo and voyage, and if the master or person in command shall not truly answer the questions put to him in such examination, he shall forfeit four hundred dollars; and if such ship, vessel, or boat be foreign, or not navigated according to the laws of the United Kingdom or of Canada, and have been found fishing, or preparing to fish, or to have been fishing (in British waters) within three marine miles of any of the coasts, bays, creeks, or harbors of Canada, not included within the above-mentioned limits, without a license, or after the expiration of the period named in the last license granted to such ship, vessel, or boat, under the first section of this act, such ship, vessel, or boat, and the tackle, rigging, apparel, furniture, stores, and cargo thereof, shall be forfeited; and that all goods, ships, vessels, and boats, and the tackle, rigging, apparel, furniture, stores, and cargo liable to forfeiture under this act, may be seized and secured by any officers or persons mentioned in the second section of this act; and every person opposing any officer or person in the execution of his duty under this act, or aiding or abetting any other person in any opposition, shall forfeit eight hundred dollars, and shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction be liable to imprisonment [Page 413]for a term not exceeding two years. On the 8th of January, 1870, the Governor General of the Dominion of Canada, in council, ordered that suitable sailing vessels, similar to La Canadienne,” be chartered and equipped for the service of protecting the Canadian in-shore fisheries against illegal encroachments by foreigners, these vessels to be connected with the police force of Canada, and to form a marine branch of the same. It is understood that, by a change of the boundaries between Canada and Labrador, the Canadian territory now includes Mount Joly and a portion of the shore to the east thereof, which in the treaty of 1818 was described as the southern coast of Labrador.

This municipal change of boundary does not, however, interfere with the rights of American fishermen, as defined by the treaty, on that portion of what was the southern coast of Labrador, east of Mount Joly.

Very respectfully,

GEO. S. BOUTWELL, Secretary.